‘Staff who use a wheelchair easier to relate to for customer’

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It is “much easier” for a customer buying mobility equipment to relate to staff who use a wheelchair themselves.

That’s the view of Vince Ross, whose Liverpool-based manufacturing and dealer business, Da Vinci Mobility, employs a number of wheelchair-using staff.

In an interview with the BBC’s Ellis Palmer, Ross, who is a wheelchair user himself, said that all of the company’s sales staff are wheelchair users.

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He told the BBC: “Employing local people to work here is an achievement for me.

“In fact, all the sales staff are wheelchair users. It’s much easier for a customer to relate to somebody that’s sat in a wheelchair, talking to them about what it’s like or what the wheelchair does.”

Ross shared his story of how the business started, explaining that in 1974 he was involved in a car accident and broke his spine.

After competing in the 1976 Paralympics he was inspired to get into wheelchair design.

Ross said: “A lot of the American players [at the Paralympics] made wheelchairs from scratch out of aluminium tubing. When I came home I built a wheelchair for myself.

“I was a toolmaker. It involved climbing over machines, a lot of moving around on a factory floor. Once I was in a wheelchair, that wasn’t possible anymore.

“So, I moved into the drawing office. I started to look at the design of wheelchairs which was pretty basic at the time.”

Ross was born in Liverpool and Da Vinci’s current factory is on the same site as where he first started work.

He added: “We’re not making thousands and thousands of wheelchairs that we want to send out of the door as quickly as possible.

“We want to make sure that every person who comes through the door goes away happy.”

There are a number of mobility dealers across the country who make a point of employing disabled staff in certain positions because they see it as an advantage for the business, especially when it comes to sales.

In an interview with AMP last year, boss of GBL Wheelchairs, Ian Laker, said that having wheelchair users in its ranks has helped the business over the years.

He said: “Empathy is our big thing and one of our biggest advantages. We’ve sold off that for years – not all our staff are disabled, but we do have some people with hidden disabilities, I myself am a wheelchair user.”

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Joe Peskett

The author Joe Peskett

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