Bill Lasher’s road to a thriving business began when he was a 10th-grader and broke his back in car crash, losing the use of both of his legs.
Today, Lasher runs Lasher Sport out of a Las Vegas business center that opened in November 2013, fabricating the only full-suspension, off-road hand cycles in the country.
The mountain-bike hand cycles allow cyclists to deploy arm power to ride on unpaved turf such as the popular and scenic Cottonwood trails outside Blue Diamond. These top-of-the-line full-suspension hand cycles can cost as much as $12,000.
Lasher Sport also manufactures light-weight, magnesium wheelchairs, including some all-terrain ones. They also can cost as much as $12,000.
The hand-powered, wheeled machines have paid off for Lasher, who has carved out a unique business niche crafting custom-made hand cycles and wheelchairs.
Annual sales have hit $600,000, with Lasher projecting sales to increase 50 percent in 2016 because more customers are learning about the products. About 60 percent of sales are from wheelchairs while hand cycles account for 40 percent of the sales.
Lasher spent $200,000 to move his business from Anchorage, Alaska, and set up shop in a 3,500-square-foot space at Russell Road and Arville Street, about a mile west of Interstate 15. The front of Lasher Sport is a showroom, displaying the full-suspension hand cycles and wheelchairs. Fabrication is in the back area, where metal tubing, bicycle parts and orders are stacked on shelves.
He picked Las Vegas because 35 million people live within a six-hour car ride of Las Vegas and people are used to coming to Las Vegas for short visits. Customers are invited to visit his shop to check out the gear firsthand.
“Alaska is not a weekend spot,” Lasher said.
He employs three full-time workers to fabricate the hand-built hand cycles and wheelchairs, and has a part timer working on office duties.
Lasher has no sales force. He is both owner and his own salesman.
Lasher’s wheelchairs and hand cycles are sold in Australia, France, Germany, South Korea, Spain and the United Kingdom.
After suffering the broken back that paralyzed his legs in Anchorage in 1984, Lasher went on to earn a master’s degree in education from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., and become a middle-school teacher in Anchorage.
He used a folding wheelchair for about 18 years.
But in 2003 Lasher bought a tube bender, taught himself to weld and fabricated his first wheelchair for himself. His father asked him where he bought the wheelchair because he thought his son had purchased it.
Shortly after, Lasher asked his father to help him launch the business together and in 2004, Lasher Sport was born.
Today, Lasher, 47, still gets around in a wheelchair crafted by his company. That chair is a 9-year-old prototype from the first line of magnesium chairs.
“I wanted to make a new chair for myself, but I’m so busy making new chairs for other people,” Lasher said.
John Wordin, CEO of Ride 2 Recovery, the organization that uses cycling to help veterans, has purchased eight hand cycles that have been modified to fit the veterans’ needs. The hand cycles are built to specifications and can cost as much as $15,000 a piece, Wordin said.
“We visited him in Alaska to do custom work for amputees,” Wordin said. “He’s the best guy because he’s willing to work with us.”
Lasher also uses mostly American-made parts. The only foreign part is the pressed frame from China, but he uses local companies like Snail Motorsports in Las Vegas for powder coatings and Saber Cutting Solutions to cut custom-made parts.