The ‘Mobility Innovators’ category celebrates some of the most forward-thinking and brightest members of the mobility community.
These people have drawn on all their technical flare, knowledge and experience to push the envelope and help the industry to advance alongside other evolving sectors.
Breaking from tradition can be tough but it is absolutely necessary if the market is to advance and our ‘Mobility Innovators’ have seized the initiative instead of waiting for the industry to change on its own accord.
Flying the flag for innovation, each of these people represent the principles and ideas the mobility sector needs to progress in the future.
Steven Newman, Director, Ableworld Southampton
It is no coincidence that Ableworld’s most successful franchisee is also one of the most innovative in the retail group. Led by a father-and-son team, Ableworld Southampton commands a generous slice of business on the South Coast.
The last year in particular has been significant for the firm with Steven Newman pioneering a first for stairlifts in the mobility sector. A step-change in the retailer’s strategy, Steven, with his father’s support, has led on a new project that has seen the firm install a huge stairlift showroom with around 10 working demos and an in-house OT training facility.
The business recently beat its weekly sales record and with Ableworld Southampton turning over in excess of £1m, excluding contracted work, Steven is helping to further establish the dealer’s dominance in what is one of the most competitive mobility retail environments in the country.
Steven’s ambition has been to supercharge the firm’s development in recent months and he notes that the only limits placed on the business are those that he and his father impose.
His ultimate plan is for a string of stores down the South Coast and he is working with the team to perfect the Southampton model so it can be rolled out across the region. Steven and his father are certainly a duo to watch in the coming year.
Stuart Dunne, Managing Director, Cyclone Mobility
Stuart Dunne has a unique approach to the high-spec mobility equipment his business sells. Aiming to be honest and ethical, he will only sell products that the team members are comfortable using themselves. In spite of the rich diversity of products within the market, sourcing ones you know are going to work for the customer as well as the business is no mean feat.
Stuart has continually kept his finger on the pulse where equipment developments are concerned and recently brought in a new device which breaks from its traditional products. The ‘feeding robot’ from the US is just one example of how Stuart has more than ever been experimenting with products he feels could benefit Cyclone’s customer base.
His prime role at the dealer is now sourcing and he lives by the ethos of asking whether a product fits with the client base before acquiring it. With his ear to the ground, Stuart has ensured Cyclone has entered new markets and retained an edge over competition by offering highly specialist items.
The firm is now one of the UK’s key importers of high-end equipment and with a background in manufacturing, Stuart is able to support the sale and servicing of each bit of kit he brings in.
Mark Davies, Owner, Mark’s Mobility
Generally speaking, it takes a very long time for the industry’s manufacturers to push through new design innovations. R&D processes on a large scale are expensive and require countless hours of testing and adjustments.
However, frustrated with the apparent slow progress in technological advancements, Mark Davies has taken matters into his own hands this year. Using all his engineering nous, Mark has invented his own nifty mobility scooter safety device in the form of a special bumper that fits onto the front of equipment.
On impact with a heavy or unmoving object, the scooter stops immediately and is disabled until it is reset. Mark secured a patent for the device in January, which he now plans to produce and sell to consumers and fellow dealers. Aside from being a commercial decision, Mark hopes the new device will help to reduce accidents among users, which is an increasing concern in the industry.
Mark believes safety precautions should be prioritised in scooter design and he has not let the fact he is an independent dealer with limited resources stop him from tackling the issue head on. It sometimes takes an individual like Mark to seize the initiative and force small change forward to get the wider industry to start to develop.
Tracy Simmons, Business Manager, Parkgate Mobility
Being one of the region’s largest players does not mean Parkgate Mobility’s bosses ever rest on their laurels. Business manager, Tracy Simmons, along with owner, Stephen Holland, has been busy in the last year evolving and modernising an impressive store portfolio with new systems and processes to keep up with retail trends and drive efficiencies.
Tracy has been implementing changes including launching a new dedicated call centre and rolling out a new retail CRM package across its stores so that the retailer can cope with its estate expansion.
Anyone who knows Tracy knows that he likes to analyse everything. Parkgate is run on data and he has graphs, charts and statistics that cover every aspect of the operation including call handling, engineer effectiveness, marketing strategy, sales success, business efficiencies and customer satisfaction.
This approach is proving instrumental in Parkgate’s growing influence in the area and the business is now nearing 20 retail showrooms, making it one of the most significant players in the north of England. Tracy’s impact on the business in the last year has been vital, helping a large retail operation adapt and remain flexible in a changing market.
Mark Moore, R&D engineer, Sirus Automotive
Mark Moore has been Sirus Automotive’s research and development (R&D) engineer for the last four years. His role within the business is to work within the WAV dealer’s R&D team, continually developing new products and refining existing products.
Mark was one of the lead engineers on the development of the Ford Drive/Upfront conversion, which Sirus claims to be the most superior conversion to date. With many years of experience developing innovative vehicle conversions, Mark and the team have applied all of their knowledge and experience to this latest design in recent months.
He has helped to develop a product which offers a wide range of conversion features. For example, the unique side entry design allows access to the vehicle from the curb while the vehicle includes a standard size fuel tank and accurate fuel gauge for longer journeys. As one of the UK’s leading mobility conversion dealers, Sirus relies heavily on Mark’s ability to innovate and improve its product portfolio.
In a market where constant advancement is a must, Mark excels in his role to ensure Sirus is ahead of the pack and able to offer its customers highly specific solutions to meet very niche and varied needs.
Mark Perress, CEO, AJM Healthcare
Expanding any business can be tough, but on the wheelchair services and community equipment stage, scaling up requires a huge amount of logistical forethought, infrastructure and clinical capability. Mark Perress, CEO of AJM Healthcare, has spent the last year laying all the necessary foundations to ensure steady growth in what is one of the toughest yet most rewarding sectors.
Mark recently led a management buy-out at the company and with the backing of a professional team he is now working to have everything in place so AJM can follow its ambitious plans to become the primary provider of wheelchair services.
Opening new sites to support fresh tenders – including a recent prestigious MOD contract – and investing heavily in clinical staff, bespoke wheelchair systems and IT, Mark has worked hard to ensure the company can support its future plans and importantly, service users.
In the last 12 months, he has aimed to develop AJM’s innovative model that engages service users and takes a bottom-up approach. The challenges to AJM’s ambitions are significant, but thanks to an innovative approach, Mark feels the firm is well on its way to achieving the goal it has set for itself.
Nathan Bevan, Director, Motus Medical
Thanks to its experience and expertise in the field Motus is seen by many suppliers as the go-to distributor for advanced powered products. Over the summer Motus was appointed as Precision Rehab’s authorised dealer for the Midlands and north of the UK, which saw director, Nathan Bevan, tasked with reaching more clients with the innovative Paravan and UPnRIDE powerchairs.
Alongside co-founder Chris Taylor, Nathan has worked to uphold the firm’s standard of assessment, sales process and aftersales care in every client case. Chris’, Nathan’s and the team’s extensive knowledge of assessments, design and development mean Motus has managed to secure close ties with major powerchair manufacturers, which has been vital in the current market, which demands specialisms.
Nathan has a unique insight into new developments and not long back he helped to pioneer Motus’ custom design service. It means equipment can now be hydro dipped with the design of the customer’s choosing, setting the company apart from its competition. Nathan embodies Motus’ forward-thinking approach to the mobility industry and the firm is held in high regard by its peers and by manufacturers.