23/09/2013 - 09:20

Dreaming of the perfect fit (with video)

23/09/2013 - 09:20

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Darren Lomman and Dreamfit have gone from strength to strength during the past decade, and national expansion is on the cards.

Dreaming of the perfect fit (with video)

Darren Lomman and Dreamfit have gone from strength to strength during the past decade, and national expansion is on the cards.

Darren Lomman’s Dreamfit Foundation has entered a new phase of its development with the launch of a regional model to service the thousands of potential customers throughout Western Australia.

Mr Lomman’s work was recognised in 2007 when he and his not-for-profit organisation won a Business News 40under40 award.

Since then, demand for Dreamfit’s unique services has continued to grow.

Dreamfit adapts and designs equipment to the specific needs of people with disabilities, enabling them to engage in activities otherwise not possible due to their physical limitations.

Motorcycle riding, painting and jet skiing are just some of the pursuits that Dreamfit offers to its clients, as well as solutions to day-to-day problems.

Mr Lomman said there are about 400,000 people in WA with some form of disability, and consequently one of the organisation’s challenges was in being able to effectively service its vast market.

“Right now we are working on 147 projects for clients, which is just phenomenal,” Mr Lomman told Business News.

“We’re doing what we can to increase our capacity … even at 147 we’re really just scratching the surface of what we can do.”

Under Dreamfit’s recently launched regional model, team members travel out to remote areas of the state in order to advise families and individuals, and provide them with appropriate solutions.

In an effort to meet the ongoing demand, Dreamfit has begun to rely on other suppliers for generic solutions, so that it can tackle the more specific projects. 

“Our first port of call is always looking for other people who are already doing similar sort of work in that space,” Mr Lomman said.  

“For example, if someone is looking for hand rails or ramps, we’ll send them out to people that do that.

“We’ll only take on the work that no-one else is really doing, which means we’re always doing something different and exciting.”

A team of ‘drooglers’, or dream googlers, is dedicated to researching and finding equipment overseas so the engineers at Dreamfit are only required to make minor modifications to the technology, rather than having to always design and build the solution from scratch.

The organisation has produced hundreds of prototypes during its 10 years in business, but now is streamlining its production and manufacturing processes so these custom-made solutions can be sold in bulk, both nationally and internationally.

The revenue generated from these products will then be channelled back into research and development.

Among Dreamfit’s supporters are the University of Western Australia, Lotterywest, and a variety of corporate partners from mining, resources and banking sectors.

UWA has provided the organisation with its 1,500 square metre workshop, and Lotterywest recently granted Dreamfit more than $168,000 in funding.
The genesis of Dreamfit emerged from Mr Lomman’s days as an engineering student at UWA.
“It initially started off as a one-off university project, and as I got more and more people (with disabilities) approaching me, that’s when the idea of it becoming a business first arose,” he said.

Over the next few years, Mr Lomman hopes to expand the regional program nationally and also develop a base in Sydney.

He said the newly introduced national disability insurance scheme, DisabilityCare Australia, would have a major impact on the future of his business.

The scheme has already been partly launched in Tasmania and South Australia, and in certain areas of Victoria and New South Wales.

It is due to start in the remaining parts of the country in two stages – in mid 2014 and 2016.

“That’s really going to change the whole disability sector, because rather than big blocks of money going to traditional disability organisations, the money is going to individuals, who can then choose what is important to them,” Mr Lomman said. 


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