Manuel Lavin and Donna Gilkey-Lavin have turned the challenge of taking care of a parent in his last years of life into a growing small business based in Belleville,
Lavin Lift Straps
Lavin's father, a large man, struggled with Alzheimer's and needed home care a little more than a decade ago. As the disease progressed he needed more hands-on care to deal with his range of issues, including incontinence.
"It could literally take 3-4 people to change him," Gilkey-Lavin says. "He didn't know what they were doing and didn't appreciate it."
That led to Lavin creating a strap-pulley system with old seatbelts that allowed him to lift his father alone. Visiting nurses told him he should sell them, so he started what is now Lavin Lift Straps with a few online and word-of-mouth sales to home-care givers. The couple have now taken the company full-time and began making larger sales to institutions in 2010.
"We decided this was something other people could use so we tested them and began selling them to insitutions," Gilkey-Lavin says.
Today Lavin Lift Straps has lined up a couple of manufacturers across the country. It also won third place for the New Business Idea category at the Great Lakes Entrepreneur's Quest
business plan competition. Gilkey-Lavin expects to not only grow the company to a household name for home caregivers, but also be a job creator in Michigan.
"We're hoping to add full-time staff as we grow," Gilkey-Lavin says.
Source: Donna Gilkey-Lavin, vice president of sales & marketing for Lavin Lift Straps
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.