Oil prices, shmoil prices. At less than 30x10 feet, my editorial office can get a little small at times… not to mention that always staying "in-the-home" is a contraindication for a mobility magazine. So for this issue, we hit the road.
We talked to consumers in Edison, N.J., the first stop of the Abilities Expo tour. We enjoyed music, quad rugby demonstrations and catching up with consumer support groups. We also reached for the Excedrin as consumers boasted about price-bargaining with dealers and attempting their own equipment repairs. Expect future stories on how to deal with both topics, but for now, turn to page 8 for managing editor Sandra Bienkowski's report on what you missed.
We also dropped in on The Ability Center's newest retail location in Phoenix, with Chad Blake as GM.
I chatted with Theresa Otero (operations) and Joe Sewell (technician). Theresa comes from the hospitality industry — as former concierge for a four-star hotel, she often worked to find accessible vehicles for guests in town for golf tournaments or the Super Bowl. "It was like pulling teeth," she says of the lack of such vehicles. Now able to do something about that, Theresa has already let other concierges in the area know that The Ability Center rents accessible vehicles.
Blake, meanwhile — mindful that consumers often start their accessible vehicle searches by approaching car dealers — has been forging friendships with automotive dealerships in his new neighborhood. "We're not a new car dealer," he says, "so our attitude is 'You sell them the vehicle, we will sell the adaptive equipment.'" Blake hopes to avoid what he dubs the "Disneyland" approach, where an overeager car dealer will promise to deliver whatever the customer wants to hear.
Instead, Blake says, he invites car dealers to use The Ability Center as an accessibility consultant. "We'll come to the dealership, we'll evaluate the client and tell you what will work for them, and hopefully make it work for whatever brand the dealer may be selling," he says. How's that for making friends with the new neighbors?
We also took in National Seating & Mobility's annual symposium in Scottsdale, Ariz. This was the fifth consecutive year we've attended, but this gathering had a terrific twist: a concurrent conference for clinicians. RTS's, OTs and PTs also came together during meals and selected educational sessions to produce a real atmosphere of teamwork. More on that in the next issue.
And we finished our travels with a visit to ATG's national meeting in Denver. In addition to enjoying top-notch educational sessions — we can still hear Sharon Pratt's "Respect the sacrum!" cry — we chatted with ATG president Paul Bergantino about what the Assistive Technology Group's forward-looking plans. Look for details next issue, as well.
So for now, it's back to the desk. Until VGM's Heartland conference. And the AAHomecare Legislative Conference. And RESNA, and…
This article originally appeared in the June 2006 issue of Mobility Management.