Celebrating National Inventors Month:
An interview with Lachlan Faulkner, co-founder of Stiltz Homelifts
What does your business design?
We are a designer, manufacturer and distributor of home lifts designed exclusively for the domestic market. Our products provide an assured solution for access between floors when using stairs starts to become a safety issue in the home. As a 21st century alternative to the 100 year old stairlift, Stiltz Homelifts are distributed around the world so individuals can futureproof their independence, avoid expensive building work and eliminate the need to relocate.
When and how did you get the idea of the Stiltz Homelift?
A few crude domestic lift designs came before ours. However, in 2008 we identified a gap in the global market where a new breed of attractive, shaftless through-floor lift, could thrive. With the right design we could ensure people with restricted mobility had safe, easy access between floors with a product they wanted in their home. We decided to set up Stiltz in the UK during 2010 with the aim of distributing our game-changing product across the world. Our design began to evolve an overcomplicated ‘Heath Robinson’ idea first seen in Tasmania to an efficient, streamlined product suitable for mass production – we took the home lift from shed to factory.
Why did you move from Australia to set up Stiltz in the UK?
When looking at the potential for global management, the UK was a logical place for us to establish Stiltz – it would simply not be possible from the other side of the world in my native Australia. We looked at America however it was just too tough to set up what we wanted to achieve and immigration was an issue, so we relocated to Britain. As manufacturing was established in China and our global network of distributors was building, the UK proved the ideal operational hub.
How have you evolved the domestic passenger lift concept?
The early designs for a domestic passenger elevator lacked modern safety features and some concepts didn’t even have a door! They were cumbersome and not products you would want in your home. Through our R&D commitment, we have totally transformed the homelift both on the surface and under the hood – resulting in a safe, contemporary and desirable product. Our homelifts are now hugely advanced with countless technical innovations unmatched by competitors. We meet an array of safety specifications including all the latest fire regulations – peace of mind for users and prescribing Occupational Therapists.
The step-change development for the market was when we launched our Plus range lifts, which are called Alta in the USA. Expanding the product range with more attractive, larger lifts and giving the consumer more choice solidified our offering. The ability to accommodate wheelchairs and the unique to us ThruCar solution, drew attention to Stiltz and opened up the market further.
Why is Stiltz unique in terms on innovation?
If we’re looking at celebrating originality in National Inventors Month, then it is true we did not invent the domestic through-floor lift. However, it can be said we did invent the pure ‘homelift’ and its marketplace.
Before Stiltz, we saw the UK as the ‘home of the stairlift’ – the perceived default product for everyone struggling to get up the stairs. Not anymore. We continue to democratize the homelift and disrupt the market as we have originated a new category in assistive technology. The Stiltz Homelift meets the need of individuals who seek ageing in place yet do not want a stigmatised stairlift. We understood what people wanted and we delivered. Yet the education continues, we have to remain laser-focused on selling the concept to the end user. The inherent mindset to see a stairlift as first choice is changing as Stiltz gives consumers a clear and commonly better alternative.
What has been the fundamental design aspect to breed success?
The development of vertical dual rail technology to replace the lift shaft has always been and will continue to be, fundamental to the success of our concept. The fact these rails allow our homelifts to be positioned pretty much anywhere in the home offers unbeatable flexibility for customer needs. Our electric motors are quiet and run on these rails, replacing noisy hydraulics seen from other manufacturers. If you look at other lift manufacturers they have attempted to shoe-horn industrial elevators into the home environment. We are different, we have come at this from the domestic situation first and with the end-user always front of mind.
Inventions for the future?
We are always looking towards the future. Stiltz continues to invest heavily in R&D with the next generation homelifts in the pipeline. Smart tech and web enablement are part of our vision to enhance our already market-leading products, along with the introduction of enhanced aesthetics and functionality. Usability and safety will remain a top priority for us, continually complemented by our renowned style.
We’re aiming to meet different needs and serve more tasks in years to come as we expand our range with different shapes and sizes. Modular design will benefit customers by giving them more choice and speeding up delivery through streamlined manufacturing. Being able to provide transit through several floors, whilst still using unobtrusive self-supporting rail technology, will be a key focus for us and the reason why our development team continues to grow.