- February 27, 2017
- Posted by: BHTA
- Category: BHTA Centenary
(Image: The photo was taken at the end of the training session in Santa Monica California and prior to the opening of manufacturing in Corby. It was taken in April 1977 outside of the office of Gerald M Jennings, president of Everest & Jennings Inc. Gerald is pictured on the left and the gentleman to the right was Loman Carpenter who was charged to manage the “set up” of the new UK operation. The picture was taken to announce the first chair hand made by the three new employee (Clive Harvey Middle back, Mike Cunnington Left front and Ron Davies Right front) for the new Corby manufacturing plant; they made 20 chairs in all from start to finish over four months of training; the chair pictured was serial number 0001 and was never sold, the other 19 were.
The E&J Story:
Herbert A. Everest and Harry C. Jennings Sr. were friends, and both were engineers. Herbert Everest was also physically disabled after surviving a mining accident in 1918. Everest complained to Jennings about the bulk of chairs available in the early 1930s, and in 1933, the pair designed and built a lightweight, collapsible model in Jennings’ garage. The design was patented in October 1937.
The pair soon went into business to manufacture their improved design. In the 1940s, they supplied disabled veterans of World War 2 through government contracts that established the company as a recognized name in rehabilitation equipment.
The Everest family sold its interest in the company in 1943, but Gerald Jennings, son of Harry Sr., was chief executive from 1952 until he retired in 1985.
By the early 1970s, Everest & Jennings International was “the world’s largest supplier of wheelchairs.
Everest & Jennings recorded sales of $145 million in 1980, and profits near $8 million. In the 1980s they launched “Avenues,” an adaptive clothing line for wheelchair users. Changes within the company and in the business landscape during the 1980s left Everest & Jennings struggling at decade’s end.
In 1992, facing financial difficulties from lost market share, Everest & Jennings moved from Carmarillo, California to St Louis, Missouri.
In 1993, the company acquired Medical Composite Technology, a carbon fiber technology company.
In 1996, still struggling with debt and falling sales, Everest & Jennings announced the sale of the company to Graham-Field Health Products. Graham-Field soon closed the Everett & Jennings plant in Missouri. Graham-Field continues to market wheelchairs under the Everest & Jennings name.