Chuck Fortinberry, vice president and general manager, at right, and Kevin Bellant, mobility sales manager
BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Sparks fly as workers keep Clarkston on the cutting edge of wheelchair-accessibly vehicles.
“We’ve had a dozen hired in the last 60 days and we’re still hiring – we’re excited about it,” said Chuck Fortinberry, vice president and general manager at Revability, 8105 Big Lake Road in Springfield Township.
They introduced their new production plug-in gas/electric hybrid wheelchair accessible vehicle, the world’s first, recently at the LA Auto Show.
“Our customers expect the latest in vehicle technology, both from an accessibility standpoint, and a technological standpoint. We’re here to offer vehicles that provide maximum accessibility and freedom, and are also environmentally friendly,” said Fortinberry. “This vehicle continues REV Group’s tradition of providing the highest quality hand-crafted specialty vehicles to its customers based on the latest technology available.”
The base vehicle is the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, and the introduction was part of the FCA exhibit highlighting the breadth of its automotive technologies.
The introduction also marked the first public show for Revability, REV Group’s latest specialty vehicle brand.
“Our company motto is we ‘connect and protect,’” said REV Group president and CEO Tim Sullivan. “We design, produce and service the safest mobility vans in the industry to ensure those individuals that require our vehicles can connect. We are fully dedicated to serving the mobility industry with the most cost effective, highest quality vehicles possible. We believe that our conversion of the new Pacifica Hybrid vans provide our industry with the safest and most cost effective vehicle in the industry today.”
Revability was completely responsible for conversion of the plug-in gas/electric hybrid Pacifica, which was created at the Clarkston facility. Modifications included redesign and construction of flooring, deployable ramp, fabricating and relocating of a new gas tank, and other structural changes to ensure safety and stability.
Fortinberry converted his former Chrysler dealership, which was closed in 2009 as part of the auto maker’s restructuring agreement with the federal government, into Autoability, a wheelchair-conversion facility for minivans and other vehicles.
The REV Group, a $2.4 billion manufacturer of industry-leading specialty vehicle brands and leading provider of parts and services, bought it this past September.
They convert gas and hybrid vehicles for personal and commercial use at the Big Lake Road facility and a second location on Dixie Highway, with about 1,400 vehicles slated for 2018.
They have more than 100 dealers lined up so far, and buyers can also check out the vehicles in the Big Lake Road showroom.
“This facility is fantastic, state of the art,” said Kevin Bellant, mobility sales manager. “We’re excited to be here in Clarkston.”
More expansion is planned, as well as hiring of skilled welders and crafters. For more information, check Revgroup.com.