Phenomenally changing lives every single day
WHEN you run a business that dramatically and phenomenally changes someone's life, there is no doubt you will be determined to succeed in your job.
Cyclone Technologies in Ottringham is leading the way in its mission to provide innovative products to help improve disabled people's lives.
Four years ago, paraplegic Dave Hawkins decided to buy Cyclone with business partner Stuart Dunn. The firm supplies wheelchairs and fitness equipment to disabled people, importing products from the US, Europe and Israel.
Dave used to work in building and joinery but, after suffering a spinal injury in a road accident in 1980, he had to move away from his original career path and get to grips with the world of business.
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"People in wheelchairs are stereotyped," Dave said. "People assume we underachieve and are being helped with everything in life."
As he talks about his motivation for the business to thrive, while stroking his choc- olate Labrador "greeter", Bourbon, it is clear how dedicated he is to his company.
"On my 50th birthday I thought, I wonder if I could run a business and do something proper?" Dave said. "I realised my body wasn't going to let me carry on with what I was doing."
The entrepreneur said that when he came into the business, the company was on its knees and with his non-business orientated mind, he had to learn the many business terms to deal with.
Dave said: "I didn't understand margins or anything. It's been an incredible experience to get the mindset right."
But now, the hurdles of delving into business ownership are long gone.
The company sees clients travelling from all over the world, including New Zealand, Australia, Israel and Germany.
"We believe in the products and committed a serious amount of money setting it up and having all the training," Dave said.
Cyclone Technologies is focused on bringing new technologies to the forefront, and has a line of unique designs that can significantly improve people's lives.
"1,000 people break their neck or back each year. We can make an incredible difference to people's lives," Dave said.
"When we employ people, they need to be disabled. That has been a major factor in helping our business.
"We can pass on little snippets of life. We are all colourful people.
"Stuart and I are determined to have a good quality of life. To do that, we have to be healthy, so we look at active users who want to be able to walk again and do normal stuff. We are looking for products for that market of customer."
Cyclone's list of products is continually expanding. Much of the company's success has been down to pioneering technologies, such as the Functional Electrical Stimulation, a rehabilitation technique where electrical current is applied to an individual with a disability.
There is also the Rewalk – the product that helped Claire Lomas, who is paralysed from the chest down, complete the London Marathon.
Dave said: "It was phenomenal that she used this.
"It is still a product developing. It is a continually evolving technology and there is still a long way to go with it."
The workshop also does service and repair work as well as the manufacturing of the multi- gym – another unique product.
Dave, who was recently awarded the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs 2012, said: "Our product mix is quite unique in the world."
More new products are due to launch this year and as they do, the business will continue to develop.
"When we moved here, the only desire was to survive. We had no money but in that first year we had a really good turnover," Dave said.
"We had a business analyst come in and say it will be a million-pound turnover business. He was right."
Cyclone's annual turnover at the end of March is estimated to be £1.5m.
Dave said: "This will be our strongest year so far. It has been down to introducing new products."