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Handicare has been providing lifting solutions to those with physical challenges for 130 years.
Handicare Stairlifts goes back to the 19th century. One of the company's founders, Mr Jan Hamer, started his own business in 1886 selling lifts and other items. In 1889, Mr Mulder became a partner and the company name was changed to Jan Hamer & Co. The business grew rapidly into the biggest Dutch manufacturer of lifts. When Mr Hamer died in 1919, the business continued under the control of Mr Mulder.
Proposals for the first seated stairlift were made just 75 years after the formation of Liftenfabriek Jan Hamer & Co. Mr Mulder's grandson first encountered this product in America in 1960. He was so impressed with the idea that he decided to develop a stairlift for the Dutch market. The first ever European stairlift followed in 1962.
In 1889, Mr Brinkman founded an engineering company for the dairy industry. In 1920, the company developed a special kind of lift, the column lift, for customers who had difficulty lifting goods vertically.
Both companies were taken over by Otis in the 1980s. They merged to form Liftenfabriek Brinkman Jan Hamer. This Otis subsidiary began to specialise more and more in stairlifts.
In 1996, the company became independent once more and was renamed Freelift B.V. in 1997. Freelift focused entirely on the design and manufacture of stairlifts.
Ten years later, at the end of 2007, Freelift became part of Handicare, an international organisation and one of the market leaders in the European health-care sector.
The first Minivator stairlift was developed by Dunstable Toolmakers in the UK in the 1970s. A few years later the design was purchased by Sunrise Medical. In 2000 a management buy out resulted in the creation of Minivator limited as Sunrise sold off its stairfit range. With stairlfits as their core product the range was able to benefit for focussed research and development and increased investment.
With the arrival of new investors in 2004, the Minivator Group was formed, incorporating Minivator Limited, Minivator Germany, Minivator Shanghai, Sterling Stairlifts (America) and Companion Stairlifts.
The Minivator Group was taken over by Handicare in 2010. On 1 July 2010, the merger of Minivator and Freelift resulted in the new company name Handicare Stairlifts B.V. in the Netherlands and Handicare Accessibility Limited in the UK. The Freelift and Minivator names are still used for product ranges.
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