If life gives you lemons, Brad Soden will likely tell you to make lemonade. He's just a no-excuses type of guy.
"People in wheelchair's got a problem? We'll fix it," the combat veteran told Businessweek in a video. "We don't care what your injury is. You got the desire, we'll get you off the sidewalk."
Soden, owner of Phoenix-based Tankchair, has built what some engineers told him was impossible -- a wheelchair (although the term hardly applies) that can pummel through muddy football fields, speed through multiple feet of water, and float "right over snow."
The Tankchair, customized for any weather Mother Nature has in store, is built off of a steel or aluminum frame and provides users -- predominantly people with limited mobility due to physical disabilities -- with confidence when exploring uneven terrain, according to the product's website.
Soden, who has no engineering experience or college degree, was determined to create a device that would allow his wife to enjoy all the same outdoor activities she had before an automobile accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down in 1999.
"She was crying one day after her injury, and she couldn't go camping anymore," Soden said of his wife's experience in Arizona's Hualapai Mountain Park in 2001. "Her exact words were, 'Go on without me.' I find that unacceptable, so I told her I would build her something. It took me two years and a bunch of beer in my garage to figure out the first model, but since then -- with now my applied science -- we've been making leaps and bounds."
The battery-powered Tankchair, which starts at $19,500 and is built to last 15-20 years, has come a long way since Soden's earliest creations. To the combat veteran, it took a tiring cycle of trial and error to get Tankchairs to where the model is today.
"Everybody can whine and cry about stuff," he said in the video by Businessweek. "Critics are so easy to find -- you can't swing a dead cat without hitting one. However, finding someone who actually comes up with the solution is what we take pride in."
What's more, Soden's groundbreaking idea isn't expanding his own bank account -- "money doesn't drive" him, he says. All of the revenue raised through the sales of each Tankchair goes back into research and development for future endeavors helping clients reach their potential.
"I'm not a big rah-rah type of guy," he said in the video. "I get more pleasure watching other people have fun. You see a kid smile, or you see happiness, and the tears of it ... I can't really describe it. Man, I can't tell you. It's just really cool."