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The Ripsaw, the Badger and the Termite, the Ripchair and the Bulldog. There’s intrigue in the names, and power.

They are the ultimate, extreme off-road machines designed and produced by Howe & Howe Technologies. They are unique. The Ripsaw and Ripchair can carry you into the back country over rough terrain. The Badger, Swat-Bot and Termite are popular with the military, law enforcement and public safety departments.

The identical twin brothers have been creative thinkers, inventors, designers and builders since they first disassembled a toaster at age 6. Now they are 39, the owners and operators of Howe & Howe Technologies, and have several of these machines to their name.

The Ripchair is a mobile unit that allows disabled folks to get off the beaten path; the Ripsaw is touted as the world’s fastest dual tracked vehicle, earning Invention of the Year honors in 2009 from Popular Science magazine; the Thermite is a durable, compact, and self-contained fire-fighting and emergency response robot; the Swat-Bot is a robotic ballistic shield; and the Badger was featured in the 2010 Guinness Book of Work Records as the world’s smallest armored assault vehicle. The Bulldog, described by Geoff Howe as an off-road pumper truck on steroids, might also be on display.

Although the Howes and their business are located in Waterboro, Maine, the brothers and their machines will make the trip west and be one of the headliners for the annual sportsmen and outdoor recreation shows in February. This will be the debut of the machines in Oregon.

The machines can maneuver through the woods, water, mud and swamps. They have the power and traction to surge ahead.

“This is what Mike and I have done our entire lives,” Geoff Howe said. “We build vehicles you can’t find or buy anywhere else in the world.

“We’re excited to visit Oregon,” he added. “We think there is a lot of similarities between Maine and Oregon. There’s kind of a laid back nature and people like to hunt, to fish and to get outdoors. We’re excited to see Oregon.”

Through their work and the notoriety the machines earned them, the Howes met a couple wheelchair bound men, one who had been injured in a logging accident and the other a disabled U.S. Navy veteran. The brothers were inspired to help these two and others like them to return to their outdoor pursuits to some degree.

The Ripchair was born. It combines power, durability and maneuverability into a sturdy, easy to control and understandable platform. The chair allows the user to back their own wheelchair into the Ripchair and lock it in place, eliminating the awkward situation of transferring the user. According to the Howes, it’s the only rugged, off-road wheelchair that is capable of supporting a power wheelchair. Or the Ripchair’s built-in seat can be extended out and down for ease of access, allowing a user to easily move from his personal chair to the Ripchair. Each Ripchair is completely customized to fit the requirements of the user.

“The Ripchair gets people outdoors again and there’s a true need for that,” Geoff Howe said. “I can’t stress how life changing it can be for disabled people. Most paralyzed people stay at home, but the Ripchair provides them hope to get out. They can ride down a road and sit by a stream again.”

The brothers began using power tools at age 8 when they built a one-room log cabin. At 16, they begin tinkering with vehicles. A few years later they remodeled the side of a school bus into a mobile stage for their band.

Vehicle creations followed, the first being the Ripsaw in 2001. The Army Research Development Engineering Center became interested in the Ripsaw in 2006 and Howe & Howe Technologies secured a contract to build the unit for the U.S. government.

At age 31, the brothers were reportedly the youngest ever to receive a U.S. military contract. The Howes said their success comes from thinking and working together. They are accustomed to creating vehicles that were never thought possible.

In 2010, the brothers starred in a reality television series, Black Ops Brothers, Howe & Howe Tech, on the Discovery Channel. They’ve also developed the concept of Outdoors Again, presently helping those in need with making outdoor excursions while also working on an 80-acre facility that would offer numerous outdoor activities to the disabled.

Most recently, the Howes founded Coastal Maine Charters, a “go fast” business that provides high-speed boats that at 60 mph can cover the 30- to 40-mile distance to offshore fishing waters faster.

“We put no box on ourselves,” Geoff Howe said of the brothers’ approach to enjoying the outdoors and sharing that joy.  

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