Twenty years ago, an entrepreneurial CPA with a background in healthcare and a passion for cars purchased a small company called New Era Transportation (now MobilityWorks®). With only one location in Akron, Ohio, New Era Transportation modified vehicles for transporting elderly and people in wheelchairs. Their largest customer was America’s Body Company. When America’s Body Company was sold, Bill Koeblitz jumped at the chance to capture their greatest asset, Taylor Clark, the Director of Sales and Marketing, who built his career in the Detroit automotive industry.
In 1997, the industry of vehicle modifiers and equipment was very fragmented and the majority of business came from the commercial sector. There weren’t any quality oversight or dealer qualifications required to service or sell accessible vehicles. A lot of vehicle modifiers were inexperienced garage shops that made custom vehicles with hopes that each customized van would work for their client. The door height and interior space of minivans in 1997 weren’t able to accommodate a wheelchair so the majority of accessible vehicles were large retrofitted vans.
Fast forward to 2017, and you’ll find a very different industry. The inexperienced garage shops are gone. They’ve been replaced with manufacturers like BraunAbility® and VMI® who build accessible minivans that are crash tested with lowered floors, in-floor ramps, and kneeling systems, and are now known for their safety and performance. There are now industry standards like the NMEDA QAP (Quality Assurance Program) certification process, that meet and exceed all federal and industry safety regulations to provide customers with safe and reliable adaptive transportation. Today, customers have the ability to go to a MobilityWorks location for a needs analysis, and then test drive an assortment of vehicles that will meet their needs prior to purchasing. MobilityWorks has evolved with the industry. Our one location has expanded to more than 67 and will continue to grow. We now have well over 1200 accessible vehicles with varying price points and features to fit the needs of our customers nationwide. What hasn’t changed since 1997 is the passion that Bill and Taylor share. Whether it be for their customers or employees, Bill and Taylor are dedicated to creating a 100-year-old company based on their passion for servicing others so that they can “be there”.
This year’s InMotion is a tribute to organizations and people like Bill and Taylor who in the last 20 years have let passion drive them in connecting with what matters most.