Improving Lives through Mobility: A Case Study of Amigo Mobility International

Improving Lives through Mobility: A Case Study of Amigo Mobility International

Kaustav Misra
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8468-3.ch049
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Researchers must acknowledge that entrepreneurship studies could and should be carried out at multiple levels of analysis—conceptual, empirical, and practical frameworks. The authors argue that practical level analysis is critical but valuable, since the reasons for studying entrepreneurship in the practical level lies in the characteristics of the entrepreneurial phenomenon itself. Every entrepreneur is different, so it makes more sense to know them individually, and in this chapter, the authors attempt to discuss a case study on a how a successful entrepreneurial family has been running their business for half a century. While discussing mental entrepreneurial motivations, women entrepreneurs, copreneurs, and young entrepreneurs in this case study, they also focus on the external and internal challenges these entrepreneurs are facing on a daily basis. At the end, this case study makes recommendations for the prospective entrepreneur.
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Research suggests that entrepreneurship is the driver of economic development and growth (Acs, 2006; Audretsch & Acs, 1994; Schumpeter, 1934). Family firms are said to be the originating form of any business activity (Wakefield, 1995), dominating the economic landscape of most major economies in the world (Shanker et al., 1996; Klein, 2000; Heck et al., 2001; Morck et al., 2003; IFERA, 2003; Astrachan et al., 2003). Two thirds of all enterprises worldwide are said to be family-owned and/or managed (Gersick et al., 1997), but becoming a successful entrepreneur is challenging. This case illustrates the journey of an entrepreneur who gives mobility to thousands of immobile persons in this world. He uses simple things in innovative ways to build a mobile chair that helps physically challenged individuals to move independently. Yes, we are talking about the world famous company, Amigo Mobility International, whose creative thought has allowed thousands of people to live independent lives. The founder of this company, Mr. Al Thieme, started out as a plumbing and heating contractor. A creative mind never stops thinking and Al also never stopped thinking about how he could help make a family member mobile and independent. A continuous, persistent and honest drive helped him to put together some sketches to build a mobility device for that family member. His first design was small, compact and uncomfortable, but it was great for getting around in the store.

There are thousands and thousands immobile people in the world, but how, Al wondered, could he possibly make them mobile? This overarching question arouse in his mind and as a result, he founded the company, Amigo Mobility International, in 1968 which is the world’s first company devoted to satisfying the dream of mobility for thousands of immobile persons. Since then, the company has gone through several changes but they never stop thinking about immobile individuals and making mobile devices for them.

We are grateful to Al and Beth Thieme for their time and cooperation. Also, this research is supported by a grant from the Stevens Family Business Center for which the authors are indebted.

Currently this company is growing and the demand for their mobile devices is not only coming from the domestic market, these devices are gaining popularity in the international market as well. This mobile device maker has about 85 employees in their main location, which is in Bridgeport Township, Michigan. This is a classic case study where entrepreneurship creates entrepreneurships in that Al prepared his wife Beth Thieme for this business and now Mrs. Thieme is preparing her son and daughter as successors and the company’s future stakeholders. Hence, this case study demonstrates how to become an entrepreneur and how to prepare entrepreneurs as well.

In today’s world women entrepreneurs are not rare, but fifty years ago it was a challenge for a woman to enter into a business. This is also a story of successful women entrepreneurs. Despite many barriers and obstacles, Beth Thieme becomes the key person of this company, but the question is, how did she get there and how could she achieve these significant accomplishments? At the end, hopefully this case study will provide encouragement to readers and motivate them enough to become entrepreneurs. In the following sections we will explore more about this company, about the business and strategies of developing successors, and tactics to adjust market demand.

Figure 1.



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