The SMA Story

The SMA Story

 

Riding to Freedom and Independence

Croydon, PA's Electric Bike Technologies is Thriving During the Pandemic While Also Helping Those in Dire Need of Mobility by Donating Trikes to Kids with Spinal Muscle Atrophy

Croydon, PA — Since last March, many everyday items have been difficult to find throughout the U.S. From free weights to typical household supplies, a national shortage of several products has been seen throughout the country. One of the most notable shortages America has seen is bicycles. With so many people working from home and looking for ways to get out, bicycles were one of the first items to sell out in stores and online last spring.

Meanwhile, Jason Kraft, CEO of Electric Bike Technologies in Croydon, PA, has seen business boom over the past several months. The Bucks County-based business, which has been around since 2008, produces electric bicycles, electric tricycles, and electric bike conversion kits under four separate brands; Electric Bike, E-Bike Kit, Liberty Trike, and Electric Trike. Their products have been flying off the warehouse floor since the pandemic began.

"This little company that nobody knew about before has turned into one of the most substantial electric bike producers on the East Coast," said Kraft, who lives in New Hope, PA. "We now have a huge footprint in the market. Biking was natural, and demand has exploded as a result of COVID-19."

While sales soared, it's the electric trikes that Kraft has given away at no cost which has brought him the most joy. In 2019, after finding Electric Bike Technologies online, Kim Heinrich and her daughter Allison drove three hours from Maryland to meet with Kraft. Kim wanted to find a mobility solution for Allison, who lives with spinal muscle atrophy (SMA), a fatal genetic disorder that attacks the central nervous system and weakens all the muscles in the body, eventually leaving the children unable to walk or move around.

"Allison and her mom drove hours to see us, as Kim wanted a non-medical device to help her daughter go on bike rides with her friends and family, and maintain some independence," Kraft said. "After speaking for only a few minutes, this pre-teen was pulling at my heartstrings. She needed a solution, and when she got on that trike, her face lit up with the biggest smile, which melted my heart and the hearts of our entire team. Within seconds of being assisted onto the trike, she was flying around our warehouse. I had never seen anything like it. She was smiling from ear to ear, and we all laughed and had to tell her to slow down. To see how happy it made her — as a parent myself with a daughter around the same age — it occurred to me that we were in a position to do something to help kids like her." Jason and his teammates immediately decided to give Kim and Allison the trike for free on the spot.

Everything changed that day for Kraft. His encounter with Kim and Allison transformed his paradigm and altered his business model. He not only gifted the trike to a family who needed it, bit it also ignited a commitment to give away as many electric trikes to children battling SMA as possible. In 2020, Electric Bike Technologies gave away 10 trikes to children fighting SMA. Next year, Kraft has committed to giving away 20 bikes to kids living with the debilitating disease, and he says that number will continue to grow.

"This initiative is all about giving back," Kraft said. "I saw first-hand how liberating our product can be for anyone dealing with a disability that limits or alters their movement. Kids should not be left behind, and we will do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen. As long as we are in business, we are going to continue to donate and give more to improve people's lives."

Most of Kraft's products are direct-to-consumer, manufactured and assembled by his 20-plus employees inside his 18,000 square foot facility. The wheels for all the bikes and trikes — 18 different types in all — are built by hand in his state-of-the-art Croydon, PA plant. Many bikes are custom-built, sized to order, and include custom tires. Even the boxes the company ships the kits and bikes in are custom produced locally. The Liberty Trike model has a 360-degree turning radius, can go in reverse, and reaches up to 12.5 miles-per-hour.

"When we launched, we knew that our electric bikes and trikes could help people with disabilities, but we didn’t fully realize the impact our products made until Kim and Allison walked into our lives," Kraft said. "We didn't see that coming. Those who have lost strength in their legs can now go out with their families and just enjoy life. Our products not only help these kids gain independence, mobility and freedom, but they provide their families with precious time with these children. Helping people is what this is all about. That’s why we’re excited to get up and go to work most days."

Kraft said that his original target demographic had mainly been senior citizens and people with mobility issues, with 65 percent of his customers being women. Since the pandemic hit, his customer base has expanded significantly, with people of all ages and from all walks of life. Now, thanks to Kim and Allison and the other families who have received complimentary electric trikes, he better understands that he’s doing much more than building and selling electric bikes — he’s seriously improving people’s lives.