Ralph Braun featured in a magazine.
Ralph Braun featured in a magazine. Smile Ralph!

The life and business journey of Ralph Braun inspire and challenges every able and challenged person, that when there is a will, there’ll surely also be a way. It’s a story that started with sadness but ended with joy. It all began with a physical challenge but ended with a lot of abilities and successes. Who could ever think the popular Braun Corporation in the US started the way it did.

Ralph Braun was born in 1940 and grew up in Winamac, Indiana. At age six, he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, a condition that limited his ability to use his limbs and move around like every other child of his age.

“Don’t Give Up…”

Those were the inspiring words of his father. At age 14, Braun was already confined to using a wheelchair for his movement but with help from his father, a motorized wagon was created to aid his movement a year later. The never-give-up inspiration from his father was all Braun ever needed to face life and business with courage. After dropping out of college just a year after entry due to mobility difficulty, he kept things going and wasn’t deterred by his physical challenges.

Ralph Braun Was Employed And Doing Well

Being physically challenged may be an issue but not to Braun. He was employed just like any able-bodied human. He worked in an automotive company and was holding a managerial position. He was the Quality Control Manager for the manufacturing company for several years. Companies which are sensitive to their environment provide an inclusive environment for people with disability. There shouldn’t be discrimination.

The Business Journey- There Is Ability In Challenges

Braun in his early years.
Braun in his early years starting his business venture.

The business life of Ralph Braun started out of the desire to solve a problem. The aim was to get a solution that will help him make moving around easier. If whatever he arrives at can help him, then, it can help a lot more people with similar conditions like his.

Five years after Ralph Braun got his motorized wagon through the help of his father, the first step he took to making something more suitable for himself was the battery-powered scooter. He built it using the knowledge he had gained from his cousin who worked with tractor equipment.

Skepticism Has No Place In Braun

Ralph Braun was very optimistic about his technology and was not prepared to give up on his inventive mind. He walked on the engineering and was hopeful the outcome will change his life and that of others. Braun got the scooter finally ready and the prototype was just perfect as he would want it to be. He used the scooter in the automotive company where he worked and the marketing started from there on autopilot. People around know others who would need the technology to help them move around.

He Started Small…

Ralph Braun in a scooter of his design.
Ralph Braun in a scooter of his design.

Ralph Braun has built a $200 million company but he started small in his father’s garage. It all began with an idea to make living easier for him. He got that right and shared the same practical solution to help others as well. He was neck-deep into all activities and outcomes because he had to use it first for himself.

Save-A-Step was Braun’s first manufacturing company where he built the first motorized scooter in 1963. Braun’s ingenuity continued and by 1966, he created a wheelchair platform lift for the physically challenged to drive their cars. He helped people convert their vehicles to be wheelchair accessible. By 1970, Ralph Braun has developed a technology and able to add wheelchair lifts to a full-sized van. Save-A-Step was later incorporated under a new name, The Braun Corporation.

Ralph Braun invented his first wheelchair accessible minivan after the Dodge Caravan design in 1991 and called it the Entervan. Braun Corporation has ever since grown bigger acquiring some related companies including Crow River Industries and IMS of Farmington.

Braun Corporation has a number of factories in its control and currently employs more than 700 people in Indiana. His was a young man that never allowed his challenges or disabilities to limit how he fulfills his dreams. With dedication and commitment, he lived out his dream and changed the world around him for the better. Passion was the drive and he kept it alive all through his life’s journey. The brand name, BraunAbility was adopted in 2006. The “Champion of Change”, he was named in 2012 by the former US president, Barack Obama. This is the success story of Braun who transcended beyond his challenges.