Creating Independence thru Modified Vehicles for the Disabled and Elderly [Interview Transcript]


Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest: Peter Greig
Guest Bio: Peter Greig is the CEO of Les Brazier Special Vehicles Pty Ltd. With an Accountancy diploma, he had previously worked for the ANZ bank, Holdens/GMAC Finance and was self-employed with Signage for 18 years. He was born in Adelaide SA, married with two sons and two grandchildren.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Series, know more about the company Les Brazier Special Vehicles. It was formed to concentrate specifically on providing as wide a range as possible of transportation solutions and accessibility innovations in order to meet the ever changing needs of the disabled and elderly population.Their CEO Peter Greig is here to impart great information on their products and services which include vehicle conversion, internal wheelchair lifters, Amsafe restraints and more.

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. Today my guest is from Australia. I’m talking to him in Queensland, the firm is based in Adelaide. His name is Peter Greig. Peter welcome to Health Professional Radio.

Peter Greig: Thank you Wayne.

W: Now Peter, the firm is Les Brazier Specialist Vehicles. Tell us about the firm and what you do.

P: Okay. Well the company is one of 9 converters of wheelchair of motor vehicles Australia wide, where we convert vehicles for wheelchair accessibility. That is where the client that is confined to a wheelchair is able to enter a vehicle and travel seated in that chair and generally in the back of the vehicle.

W: Now geographically Peter, you provide these vehicles right across Australia?

P: Yes. Over the last few years we’ve done something in the vicinity of in excess of 700 vehicles. The lowest what we commonly would describe is a lowest motor vehicle, so that access in to the vehicle is through a tailgate and a ramp generally positioned at the rear of the vehicle and over those years, we’ve gone all over Australia.

W: Now we’re not talking here like only in you know specialist government and emergency service vehicles or taxi’s here, we’re talking vehicles here for home use?

P: Correct. Yeah our predominant market or market sector is actually generally so funded with retirees where one of the partner has had a perhaps a stroke or suffering from diabetes and may have lost a leg or something along those lines. So generally you know they don’t have to be a 100% confined to a chair. A lot of our clients are but certainly for those sort of clients where it’s easier for them to travel from point A to point B seated in a chair, be it a manual push chair or a power chair. One of our vehicles is very, very suitable. It gets people away from this quite ‘van’ scenario, these are little vehicles ranging from four and a half meters in length through to vehicles the size of a commodore station wagon.

W: Now Peter, it’s an intriguing problem and it’s one that kind of doesn’t occur to you until you have need of it. Do people start by buying a vehicle and sending it off to you for modification or can you advice on how they go about doing this? How does someone start the process?

P: Generally the process is started by a healthcare professional, generally an OT – an occupational therapist where somebody has been a major incident in their life and they suffering themselves, needing the use of a wheelchair which of course affects your independence, your ability to drive. So generally our referrals come to us from OT’s and allied healthcare professionals. We offer you know a no charge interview or a talk to people as long as it take to make sure that their fully informed as to their options and what’s possible and what’s not.

W: That sounds very interesting, from our listeners point of view many of whom are clinicians in acute care hospitals scenarios. So they would typically inquire with you to get an idea what you offer and then make referrals to you, I guess it’s not a medical referral. It’s just an informal referral to you as a suitable supplier, is that how it fits together?

P: Yes, correct. Yes we encourage OTs to use us as a reference source. And yes look generally when an OT refers a client to us, generally we will have the OT in attendance as well so that the client got both sides of the story, both from a health point of view and from a practicality point of view, what we can physically do to assist them.

W: And I guess like any motor vehicle to fill a big investment, you want to get it right.

P: Oh definitely, yes. Vehicles range anything from the most sort of $30,000 through to probably the most expensive conversion would have been upwards at probably $120,000.

W: Right. Now I have in my mind a very industrial kind of picture, are these all manual vehicles?

P: No, history has shown us that out of that 700 odd vehicles that we’ve done with the lowered floor type concept, from memory I can only recall 2 or 3 that have been a manual gear box type vehicles. Generally most people in Australia are at least, we’re very accustomed to driving automatic transmissions.

W: And is there a special licensing requirement?

P: Not where the situation is the person travelling physically in their chair as a passenger in the vehicle. Just a normal day to day motor vehicle driver’s license for the state the person resides in and is required. If in fact and we do this quite often, where the person, the chair has the ability to and has passed the test to be a driver then the occupational therapist will in fact certify the person in the wheelchair will have to undergo some testing and some instruction as to how to handle a motor vehicle using hand controls, and those will fit in. So you don’t have to be just the passenger, you can actually drive from your wheelchair.

W: Oh really. It’s often the things that I’ve never thought about in this job that surprise me the most. What about registration? Peter is that straight forward? I presume it’s a special kind of registration.

P: The modifications by law in Australia have to be noted to the corresponding state registration branch. We’re very fortunate in Adelaide to have an automotive university qualified automotive engineer that is well known both federally and in the state and he’s actually a signatory for all states of Australia state and territories. We work closely with him when we’re doing the prototype of the new vehicle. So all our vehicles has most of our competitors, are all engineering approved that goes through s specific process, so our box gets checked on the way through by the engineer and at the end of the conversion process when the vehicle is ready to be transported and delivered will then be supplied with an engineering certificate which goes with the vehicle as well as well as the relevant state which the vehicle is ending up. The registration branch in that state is advised, now the vehicle has been converted to cope with a wheelchair occupant, its sitting capacity and all the other little bits and pieces that the modifications that we’ve done with the vehicle meet or exceed AVR of Australia.

W: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and I’m in conversation with Peter Greig. Now Peter’s the director of a firm Les Brazier Special Vehicles. And has being telling me about the modifications and make the vehicles to accommodate wheelchair bound, both drivers and passengers. Peter what’s the message that you would like to get across to clinicians? What would you like them to know about your products and services that may not be apparent to them?

P: Look, I guess at the end of the day that the main thing is that if a client has got the desire to attain as much as possible of his or her independence. From a driving point of view, they’e able to get from point A to point B, be it under their own esteem or in conjunction with a carer. Generally given the reasonable circumstances here we can offer generally at least a couple of possible solutions that the client can able to make that have some value of judgment to them and hopefully we’re be able to keep their independence so going for as long as possible.

W: Now I guess if we triggered some interest in health professionals, but also I presume you’re just take directing inquiries from wheelchair bound patients. You don’t need a referral to get in contact with you, is the website of the best place?

P: Definitely. That’s the best place or people are more than welcome to gives us a telephone call if they’ve like to. We’re more than happy to assist them with whatever information we could give them.

W: Now Peter every time I do telephone numbers, I always get complains if I don’t give people warning to get their pen and paper, so fair warning listeners. It’s pen and paper time. What’s the number peter?

P: Okay. Well, we’re based in Adelaide so the area code is 08, the number itself is 8255 1947.

W: Now if you’ve missed that number, you’ll be able to pick it up from the transcript of this story that I’ll tell you where to find that in just a moment. Peter it’s been lovely having a chat with you this morning. Thank you for your time. Is there a misconception about your products and services that drives you nut and keeps you awake at night?

P: Look it’s … no, I’d better say it’s a very enjoyable industry to be in because the number of successes that we have is basically very, very large. It’s certainly not a luxury based item or purchase. And look, our items vary from you know something as simple as an $95 steering wheel, it has a knob where somebody may have a bit of a restrictive use in their wrist action. It helps them to steer the motor vehicle through to as I said earlier on, quite major and extensive motor vehicle conversions.

W: Now if you just joined us on Health Professional Radio, I’ve been in conversation with Peter Greig from Les Brazier Specialist Vehicles and we’ve been talking about the modifications that can be made to vehicles to accommodate patients who are wheelchair bound or who have other difficulties driving. If you’ve missed our story, you can see the transcript on our website and also a file in our sound archive. Both of those are available at This is Health Professional Radio, my name is Wayne Bucklar.

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