The newspapers have been full of reports of companies getting federal “bailout” money and after receiving the money holding a corporate retreat at a lavish spa or hotel in an exotic location. Needless to say, congressmen and constituents alike express outrage and disbelief.
I always smile when I hear of this situation because the company I work for holds its annual sales retreat in northern Indiana in the middle of January. With the average temperature outside hovering between 10 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit, everyone inside tends to remain focused on wheelchair lifts and wheelchair vans. The distractions of an exotic island resort or Las Vegas just don’t exist.
For a variety of reasons, BraunAbility is usually very kind to me and doesn’t make me leave Florida, where I’ve lived for over 30 years, in the dead of winter. However, I did attend one conference eight years ago. When I came out of the meeting I was surprised to find my rented Dodge Caravan covered with four inches of snow. Three of us piled into the van and I headed down the road only to realize my headlights were not working. Fortunately, our director of sales in Oslo, Norway, was with us and he knew what was wrong. After I found a safe place to stop, he jumped out and brushed the snow off the headlights and we made it safely to our hotel.
Coming from Florida, I didn’t realize that the snow was hiding the light. Coming from Norway, he knew exactly what happens during snowy conditions.
The old saying is “two heads are better than one.” Ignoring the humor for a second, at BraunAbility we find this saying to be very true. Most of our products are the result of input and work from multiple engineers, builders, and other employees. Over the years our staff has worked with advanced technology to improve the designs of previous years.
But our most important source of information is from the consumers, and we are lucky to have very direct consumer input. After all, Ralph Braun started building wheelchair lifts to solve his transportation problem. And, we have always had several persons who use wheelchairs employed by the company and their voices are also heard.
Just as important is the input from bus drivers, transportation professionals, family and caregivers of persons with disabilities. In many ways, our equipment is made for them. A good lift, a nice, comfortable Entervan or Rampvan or one of our many other products makes everyone’s life easier by reducing the physical demands of transporting a wheelchair to a minor inconvenience.
Listening also keeps us out of trouble. If the bankers and executives had been listening to their customers, maybe they would have been less extravagant with their Federal funds. We don’t have such worries because in addition to not receiving any bailout money, our sales staff once again survived another meeting during the Indiana Winter.