Gear Heads

Gear Heads

With torque and tenacity, these two are impacting lives, one socket at a time.

In the punishing dry heat of the Texas summer, 17 year-old Randy Jorgensen put the final touches on his magnum opus, the result of a year’s worth of scavenging salvage yards and scrounging parts: a 1970 GTO Judge. With a turn of a key, this slab of American muscle cleared its throat and bellowed out the unique growl only a 400 horsepower Ram Air engine can muster–a primal sound that filled with teenager with a deep satisfaction.

Today, over three decades later, Randy is still in the shop, up to his elbows in WD-40 and 1/4″ sockets and filled with that same kind of satisfaction. But instead of Mustangs and GTOs, he spends his days working on Permobile C 500s and Winnie Lite Supreme Walkers and Pride Revo Three-Wheel Scooters.

Atech ServicesRandy is the Program Administrator for Crotched Mountain’s Refurbished Equipment Marketplace (REM). REM, which is part of Crotched Mountain’s Assistive Technology (ATECH) program, is New Hampshire’s largest distributor of used medical equipment, all priced to be extremely affordable. That Permobile C 500 for example? New, it costs $24,000, the same price as a 2017 Chevy Silverado. REM sells it for $500.

Here’s how it works: donated equipment rolls into ATECH’s Concord, NH location regularly. Some of it’s in good condition. Some have seen better days. Randy and his co-gearhead Mark Hall then put the equipment through its paces.

From simple walking canes to Hoyer lifts to the highest of high-end power chairs, they all get the full REM treatment: taken apart, cleaned, tweaked, torqued, and tested. If it passes muster, the equipment lands in the REM inventory, listed on the website for digital browsing and available to peruse at the Concord showroom.

Alternatively, if the equipment doesn’t get the Randy and Mark seal of approval, the piece is harvested for parts, which can be just as useful to potential customers. Currently, there is no used parts warehouse for medical devices in New Hampshire, and REM has been methodically building up inventory to address this market; you just need to take a look at the workshop, an impressive floor-to-ceiling cabinet of curiosities loaded with all manner of gizmos (many of which, new, cost more than your average BMW dealer part).

“I got a call one day by from someone looking for a computer display on a power chair,” Randy says. “This is a unit that is integral to the operation of the chair. But the manufacturer doesn’t even make it anymore. We had three of them.”

These parts–like their more complete brethren on the showroom floor–are served up at a major discount. The driving force of REM and ATECH is connecting people in need with the technology that will improve the quality of their lives. For those who, daily, rely on a patient lift or a wheelchair, this equipment, out of action, can have devastating effects.

Because, in the end, these devices are more than inert pieces of metal and circuitry; they are extensions of a person. Randy knows. He’s seen the bonds form between people and technology, and the impact it can have on their loved ones.

“I got a call one day by from someone looking for a computer display on a power chair,” Randy says. “This is a unit that is integral to the operation of the chair. But the manufacturer doesn’t even make it anymore. We had three of them.”

Like the woman who called him that day. Her husband had passed away a month ago. In the twilight of his life, his house had been modified for accessibility–lifts, wheelchairs, you name it. She finally felt ready to donate it all. As Randy inspected the equipment in her house, the woman was pacing. “Are you alright?” Randy asked. She broke down in tears. “How am I supposed to go on without him?” she said. The equipment was more than equipment; it’s what allowed him to remain in the home with her. Randy consoled her. Told her he knew the feeling, that he had lost both of his parents, that he had lost his brothers. The woman took a final, longing look at the equipment, then turned back to Randy and said:

“This will help somebody else,” she said. “And I am so happy that it will.”

So Randy bid farewell and drove back to Concord, his van loaded with a trove of life-changing metal, padded, and plastic treasure, bound for his workshop where he’d strap on the safety goggles, get out his 3/4″ wrench, and get down to doing what he’s always loved–restoring.


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