In 1989, as a college student in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Jay Johnson was in a single car accident, which left him a quadriplegic. Jay realized very quickly that he would never walk again, but came to the conclusion that the fact he could not walk, did not mean he could not stand and move around. This conclusion influenced Jay to purchase a standing power wheelchair. Much to his disappointment, the standing wheelchair was unattractive, lacked functionality, and was dangerously unstable. After falling over in the standing wheelchair, Jay decided he could do better.

In 1992, Jay founded FENA Design Inc. to develop a standing power mobility device that would be far superior in quality, function and style to anything on the market. Jay enlisted the help of St. Cloud State University, which provided FENA with engineering software, office space, and access to the faculty. Meanwhile, Jay continued working on degrees in Finance and Economics at the University and driving down to Minneapolis to continue vigorous rehab therapy several times a week.

From 1992 to 2000, FENA worked on designing and developing prototypes of a standing power
mobility unit. The result of these efforts has been the successful development of VERTRAN (VERtical TRANsportion), a standing power mobility device with unparalleled style, functionality, and stability. Unlike other standing wheelchairs, VERTRAN was designed with standing as its primary function.

After nine years of development, FENA secured its patent on VERTRAN’s central lift mechanism in May of 2001. In October of the same year, VERTRAN received 510(k) clearance from the FDA.

FENA began production of VERTRAN in the summer of 2002 and the first production unit was sold in the latter half of 2002. In the first quarter of 2003, FENA officially kicked off its sales and marketing campaign, which will greatly increase visibility within the industry and amongst users.

FENA will continue to challenge the complacent nature of the mobility industry with new innovations. Meanwhile, we are confident VERTRAN will redefine peoples’ lives, as it already has for many, through improved physical and emotional health, better access to daily activities, and more employment opportunities.