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Ann Arbor Spark

May 12, 2015

Lavin Lift Strap targets commercial medical facilities for growth

Lavin Lift Strap has made a name for itself by selling a product that makes home healthcare easier for caregivers and family members. Now the downtown Ypsilanti-based firm is aiming for much more rapid growth by targeting bulk sales to acute healthcare providers, big commercial players in the healthcare industry (think hospitals, nursing homes and other large institutions).

"It (our orders) will significantly increase," says Manuel Lavin, president of Lavin Lift Strap. "The home healthcare market is a onsey and twosey. With acute healthcare you're talking boxes, pallets."

The 5-year-old firm got its start when Lavin and his wife, Donna Gilkey-Lavin, had to find a way to help take care of his father who was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and obesity. They created a strap and pulley system that made it easy for one person to lift and clean the patient where previously it took multiple people.

The technology acts as a mini crane that helps raise the patient's legs or entire lower half off the bed. The family turned the invention into a product and began selling it to people and companies specializing in elder care through word-of-mouth and the firm's website. It leveraged Ann Arbor SPARK's services to further commercialize the product and set up its first office in the SPARK East Business Incubator in downtown Ypsilanti.

Lavin Lift Strap now has three patents and another one pending on its products. It is also planning to file a few more patents later this year. The company has hired a few sales pros to expand its team to 13 people and sales of the Lift Strap are up 25 percent over the last year. The company expects those sales figures to spike over the next year as it starts to fill some large  orders.
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"It's a tough slog," Gilkey-Lavin says. "Hospitals are not as quick to adapt to new technology as you would think. It can take years."

Source: Manuel Lavin, president of Lavin Lift Strap; and Donna Gilkey-Lavin, vice president of sales & marketing for Lavin Lift Strap
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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