Kids Up Ceases Production, Closes Doors

Kids Up, the Montana-based manufacturer of dynamic seating systems for children, has shut its doors.

A customer service representative answering the phone on Dec. 17 said the company had stopped shipping product. The rep referenced "a few business issues" in explaining that Kids Up was closing.

By Dec. 20, callers to the Kids Up offices received a recorded explanation that the company had closed. "Kids Up is not able to accept or process any additional orders, including parts orders," the recorded message said. The message added that if parts were to become available, the Kids Up Web site (kidsupco.com) would be updated accordingly.

"We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this will no doubt cause and regret that this is the only option available at this time," the message said. "If you need additional help, we will do as much as possible, given the circumstances." Callers were invited to send e-mails to cs@kidsupco.com if they needed additional support.

In 2007, Kids Up announced a partnership with Sunrise Medical's A.R.T. Group, which would distribute and market the Kids Rock dynamic seating systems in the United States.

But by late 2009, that agreement had ended. In documents regarding an application for an economic development loan from the city of Belgrade, Mont. - where Kids Up was located - Kids Up President Dale Mandeville cited issues of competition with Sunrise Medical, and said that the partnership between the two had ended. Mandeville said the company expected "a substantial increase in revenue" for 2010, thanks in part to the launch of a new product that would accommodate larger children.

Kids Up described its dynamic seating system as one "that accommodates and encourages children with abnormal -- strong or weak -- extensor tone patterns by allowing a controlled range of extension at the hips and knees. The system allows the controlled movement while maintaining proper pelvic positioning."

The system had been the subject of research by Michael Hahn, Ph.D., Montana State University, who first presented his findings at the 2007 International Seating Symposium in Orlando, Fla. Kids Up said parents, therapists and teachers of children using the seating systems reported a range of benefits, including "increased interaction with peers, sleeping through the night, improved verbal skills (and) increased range of motion at the hips and knees."

Lee Johnson, Kids Up director of marketing and customer service, said a plan to rename and rebrand the company and its products fell through. "We had a link in that chain collapse," he said. While he couldn't definitively rule out the possibility of Kids Up being purchased or another future deal that would enable the company's technology to live on in some fashion, as 2010 was winding down Johnson said, "At this point, it's more an issue of an orderly shut-down."

He added, "Nobody does because we're making a million bucks. We do this because we believe in it. So it was a heartbreak for us."

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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