We are excited to announce that Performance Vans, Inc., of Woodbury, NJ, is now VCI Mobility. The acquisition will enable us to provide a full breadth of mobility products and services to the Southern New Jersey marketplace.
“We are thrilled with the opportunity to become a part of the Gloucester County (NJ) community. As a local resident, it is especially significant for me to be in a position to service this area. Adding the Woodbury location to our family of mobility locations powerfully enhances our ability to successfully service all of our clients,” notes Susan Locklear, General Manager of both the Woodbury and Cinnaminson VCI Mobility locations.
In order to enhance the existing Woodbury location, we plan to remodel the facility to include a new indoor showroom and waiting room. The Woodbury location will now also offer wheelchair accessible van rentals, as well routine vehicle maintenance services including oil changes, brake service, and more.
In the coming weeks and months, we will be sharing more information on the transformation and renovation of the Woodbury location. In the interim, the location is open, and ready to service you!
Filmed in Cleveland Ohio, The Avengers movie will soon be hitting theaters throughout the country, but the real “Superheroes” recently descended on Indianapolis.
This past week, MobilityWorks attended the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) annual convention in Indiana. The event drew more than 5,000 attendees from all over the country and about 300 vendors. Occupational therapists are the heroes that work with our clients after suffering a debilitating event, such as a stroke or spinal cord injury, in order to regain the ability to do many of the physical tasks necessary to be independent. They transform lives for millions of Americans needing therapy services. Being an OT means having a lot of post-graduate training in many different medical areas – ranging from youth to elderly care. It also requires having a lot of patience and a strong desire to help people with physical needs at every stage of their recovery. Their goal is the same as ours, to allow people to live active lives again and to regain their independence as much as possible.
The AOTA convention vendors offered a wide array of different products and services to help clients with their rehabilitation process, such as improving motor skills, balance and hand-eye coordination. Academia was also well represented, as many colleges and universities were there to represent post-graduate curriculum. Many assisted living facilities were also there with displays looking to hire OT professionals. Even the Navy was on hand to recruit OTs. There were also driving simulators for training someone to drive again and wheelchair accessible vans made by BraunAbility.
While our mission was to connect with leaders in the occupational therapy world, the event was inspirational in that many of the younger graduates showed exceptional interest in our products and the SureGrip hand controls demonstration that we brought to the exhibit hall. Working alongside other organizations such as the Adaptive Driving Alliance, the National Mobility Dealers Association (NMEDA) and The Association of Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (ADED), our secondary mission was to educate new OTs attending on the importance of mobility products and the vast array of transportation options that are available. Soon they will be OT influencers guiding clients to our stores for adaptive quipment solutions.
MobilityWorks Expands into New Jersey with Monmouth Vans Access & Mobility
It’s not reality TV – but it is reality! MobilityWorks announced earlier this month that it had acquired the assets of Monmouth Vans Access & Mobility located in Farmingdale, NJ. Located just north of Wall Township and close to the Garden State Parkway, our new “Jersey Shores” location is only 7 miles from the coastline and less than an hour from Staten Island and New York City. Monmouth Vans will become part of the MobilityWorks family of accessible van showroom and service centers, now reaching 15 locations in 8 states!
For our new clients and friends in New Jersey and New York – Welcome to the family!
MobilityWorks offers a wide selection of vehicles and alternative wheelchair transportation options. While our core products are modified minivans with automated ramps and full-size vans with lifts, the same as Monmouth, the company also offers wheelchair accessible motorcycles and pickup trucks, a robotic arm for wheelchair storing, turning/lift-up seats, scooter lifts and hi-tech driving systems. In addition to significant operational support coming from the company’s Akron Ohio headquarters in areas such as accounting, human resources and marketing, the New Jersey location will realize many other benefits in becoming a part of MobilityWorks. Visit our New Jersey showroom page.
“I’m really looking forward to working with the new team. They have an outstanding reputation in the industry” said Ray Morton, who has been named as the location’s General Manager.
“MobilityWorks has made significant investments in a new Client Care Center, training programs, and in their network systems… just to name a few examples. Those types of things will really help us with serving our clients.”
Monmouth Vans owner Gene Morton (Ray Morton’s father) will be retiring soon after a distinguished career in the wheelchair van and adaptive equipment industry. Enjoy your retirement Gene! We wish you all the best and expect to see you often.
If you’re new to MobilityWorks, our entire inventory of more than 340 vans is searchable online and shared across all showroom stores. Drivers transport vans from one store (such as Albany, NY) to another if a particular make, model or type of conversion is preferred by a client. The Monmouth inventory will get ramped up with several new and pre-owned vans arriving from MobilityWorks shortly.
About Monmouth Vans Access & Mobility
Monmouth Vans Access & Mobility began in 1975 as Monmouth Equipment and Service Co. Inc. They were later acquired in 1983 and changed names to better identify themselves with wheelchair transportation. They were also part of ‘Accessible Vans & Mobility’ (AVM) in Cinnaminson, NJ. With the acquisition, they will no longer be a part of the AVM organization. Monmouth Mobility provides modified, personal-use vans, scooter lifts and driving aids to New Jersey communities such as Lakewood, Hamilton, Toms River, Trenton and Wall Township. They have on-site adaptive vehicles ready for sale and for rent. Experienced certified mobility consultants are on hand to assist with vehicle and equipment selection.
Most people reading our blog or following us on Facebook know MobilityWorks for its consumer wheelchair van showrooms, service and rental centers. In the business world, however, we also lead the industry with commercial-use accessible vans used by our business clients throughout the country. Today, MobilityWorks announced the acquisition of Liberty USA of Michigan, a prominent reseller of rear-entry minivans to commercial fleet owners. We will also be selling a new minivan conversion under the Liberty brand name.
This opportunity to expand our offerings came about as demand for accessible vans in the taxi market has steadily increased over the last two years. New state and city government regulations have been pressing taxi fleet owners in certain areas to have a minimum percentage of their vehicles to be wheelchair accessible. This has been a long time coming for people who live in larger metro areas, such as New York City, and rely heavily on taxis for transportation. With the cost of fuel taking a larger bite out of their profits, these taxi companies are exploring van alternatives that can provide better gas mileage and lower maintenance costs. This announcement will also affect our consumer stores, as some of the Liberty minivans will also be made available for personal-use sales.
MobilityWorks isn’t new to converting minivans for rear-entry accessibility. In fact, MobilityWorks has been building Dodge, Chrysler and Toyota wheelchair minivans for three years, in addition to its well-known Ford Transit Connect conversion. The difference with Liberty is in the engineering details of the design and the experience they bring to our commercial division.
“Liberty is a well-respected name in the commercial fleet business” said Taylor Clark, President of MobilityWorks Commercial. “They give us the expertise we need to best serve and grow the minivan taxi market.”
With a new focus on minivans, and new innovative products like the Flex-Flat Ramp for rear-entry vans, MobilityWorks Commercial will provide the Taxi, Senior Care and Hospitality industries with a lower cost, lower maintenance vehicle needed to efficiently transport people in wheelchairs.
“When I’m here on the golf course, I don’t think I have a problem… I forget everything.” — Manuel De Los Santos
My first experience with seeing a disabled golfer was memorable. I was around 16 years old when my father and uncle took me out to play at Shawnee Hills golf course in Bedford Ohio. While we were warming up at the tee, an elderly gentlemen approached with his pull-cart. “Mind if I play with you guys”, he said. As he got closer, I realized that he only had one arm. I remember thinking to myself, “how’s he going to do this”? My apprehension about his playing ability soon faded. His drives were down the middle, nearly 200 yards or more every time. I don’t remember the score, but let’s just say he beat all three of us.
It wasn’t until I was in my late 40’s that I would play another round of golf with someone who was physically challenged. I was working at MobilityWorks for only a few months when I was asked if I wanted to participate in a fund-raising golf event for Hattie Larlham, a local non-profit organization that provides care to children and adults with severe developmental disabilities. My playing partner was to be Don Johnston, a mobility consultant working for MobilityWorks at the time, who is in a wheelchair. I thought to myself, “how is this going to work”? Don was truly inspiring as he would hit the ball from his chair while using a self-modified driver. While not extremely long off the tee, he could hit a ball more than 150 yards on a consistent basis and almost always straight. After each hit, I would drive the golf cart up next to Don and he would transfer over into the seat. He would then pick up his wheelchair and hold it up on the side of the cart until we reached our balls down the fairway. He would roll up onto the green and make his putt, getting in and out of the cart several times for each hole (for all 18 holes). Cleveland Indians legend Lenny Barker was on the tee at the par 3, 10th hole when Don made it on the green with his drive. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Not because he was able to play the game pretty well, but because of his attitude and determination. And to challenge his own abilities. We played again not long after at Edwin Shaw Rehabilitation Institute Challenge Golf course in Akron Ohio. This was his “home course” and he was determined to show me up. Needless to say, I lost the 9-hole round. The guy in the wheelchair beat the AB (able-bodied person). It was very humbling.
I recalled these experiences with playing golf because they were so inspirational. I don’t remember the name of the elderly man with one arm, but I wish I did. Don eventually followed his passion and finished his teaching degree (another inspiring story for another day). He recently taught as a substitute teacher at my daughter’s high school and is hoping for a full-time position.
What brought about these fond memories, however, was a recent You Tube video sent to me by MobilityWorks President/CEO Bill Koeblitz. Bill wrote in his e-mail “this is really amazing”. And it is. The video is about a one-legged golfer named Manuel De los Santos. At the age of 18, Manuel was on top of the world. He was a talented young baseball player from the Dominican Republic and close to signing with the Toronto Blue Jays. Becoming a professional baseball player was all he could think about. It was every Dominican teenager’s dream. That was before a motorcycle accident that took most of his left leg. In an instant, his life changed.
What makes his story different isn’t that he continued to play sports with a prosthetic, as many of our amputee customers do. What makes De los Santos so unusual is his ability to swing a golf club without any prosthetic – balancing on one leg – and playing almost as good as a professional. After years of determined practice and thousands of swings, he now shoots in the 70s on some of the most challenging golf courses in the world. For those who follow professional golf, playing to a 3 handicap means that you are very, very good (with or without two legs).
According to Manuel, he decided to take up golf after watching the The Legend of Bagger Vance, a Robert Redford directed film starring Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron. The movie was more about the philosophical journey between two men (the pro golfer and his caddy) than the actual game of golf. When Manuel realized that he could balance and swing on one leg in his first attempt at a driving range, golf soon became his passion. Why he doesn’t play with the use of a prosthetic isn’t clear. Everyone deals with their own physical disability in his or her own way. Much like Bagger Vance, Manuel uses golf as a spiritual journey.
This You Tube video of him playing is amazing. His determination to get better is relentless. Now 26 years old, don’t be surprised if you see Manuel De Los Santos on television someday, playing alongside his golf idol Tiger Woods. This New Year’s Day, I’m going to make a resolution to challenge myself, like these three men have done. To do something special that I didn’t think I could do. I just don’t know what that is, just yet.