Taking George Blue Thunder to GT Mobility
Having a reliable van mechanic/service station is about as essential to an individual with a disability as a wheelchair is. That may sound a bit dramatic. However, if you don’t have wheels, your world is very small. My mom has always relied on GT Mobility in Stevens Point. Recently, I decided to go with her to meet the staff she always talks about.
Soon after I acquired George Blue Thunder, we had an “oops” moment. We had free play money for Ho Chunk Casino and decided to venture there on a random Tuesday. My mom was lowering the ramp, when we heard a snap. This is not a good sound to hear when lowering a ramp! Low and behold, the cable that unfolds my ramp snapped in two! We could still manually unfold the ramp, so this thankfully did not interfere with my losing at the casino!
The fact that we could still manually unfold the ramp made getting it fixed not exactly a number one priority. However, the time came to fix George Blue Thunder and a call was made to Richard at GT Mobility. Although I had not yet met Richard, he has been a follower/supporter of my blog and Facebook page. I was really looking forward to finally meeting him.
GT Mobility History
GT Mobility was started by two partners, Todd and George. Todd and George have been friends since high school. Todd’s father lost his legs to diabetes. It was this life event that sparked Todd into forming a company which would not only provide a service, but one that would treat customers like family.
GT Mobility’s business model has been successful. Over the past 20 years, they have opened up three locations. GT Mobility can be found in Green Bay, Sun Prairie and Steven’s Point.
GT Mobility Services
Lift and ramp repair is not the only service they provide. GT Mobility also is a dealer of accessible vehicles. They do full conversions, install lifts, hand controls and much more. GT Mobility also sells new and used accessible vehicles. They have an array of vehicles to choose from, with many different options. They also help with in home equipment, like ramps and stair chairs.
GT Mobility understands the financial burden of having a disability and the cost of the much needed equipment. Their website provides information and links for various grants and assistance programs to obtain accessible transportation. Additionally, they provide assistance in obtaining financing for qualifying customers.
GT Mobility also has accessible rental vehicles. Finding accessible vehicle rentals is difficult. I was without a vehicle for months and renting from GT Mobility allowed me to go visit relatives on a holiday and to travel to Green Bay to watch WWE Monday Night Raw!
My Recent Visit
When I rolled into GT Mobility in Stevens Point, Richard came right up to me to shake my hand. This might not seem like a big deal, but sometimes shaking my hand is. My CP affects both of my hands and sometimes shaking my hand makes people uncomfortable. My first impression of Richard was that he is a kind, easy-going kind of guy. If your business revolves around individuals with disabilities, this is the guy you would want your customers to meet first.
GT Mobility does not have an automatic door. However, Richard’s work station faces the door and he has a clear view if someone were to need help. I have mentioned many times before the expense of automatic doors in regards to small businesses. When I interviewed Richard, he did mention that the lack of an automatic door was one of the first changes he would like to see happen. However, the cost makes that difficult. The rest of the building was very open and accessible.
I had the opportunity to sit and chat with Richard Nault about GT Mobility and the services they provide. Later I had the chance to also chat with GT Mobility’s technician, Jacob Pratt. During our chat a customer walked in, which gave me the chance to see both Richard and Jacob in action.
While I was chatting with Richard and Jacob, an elderly vet came in to have a walker fixed. They did not have an appointment, but that was not a concern. Richard and Jacob both assessed the need and the concerns this man and his companion had. Jacob took the walker into the back and checked it out, easily finding the issue that needed fixing. I have a real appreciation for the respectful and kind manner in which this man was treated.
My Mom Lost It One Day
My mom told me about a time she was over stressed with life and my old van. She juggles a lot on a daily basis. When things go wrong, it is really a struggle. My van had been giving her trouble and she had taken it in to be fixed. Unfortunately, it was a problem which could not be fixed right away and she had to return. We had a very important meeting to go to and when she lowered the ramp, it would not go back into the van.
There is no other way to describe what happened next other than to say my mom lost her shit! Really lost her shit. Richard and Jacob were on the receiving end of my mom’s meltdown. Jacob had offered to drive to Wausau to check it out and fix it. You can imagine my mom’s embarrassment when she discovered the controller switch was stuck because she had it shoved in a door compartment. She was really ashamed about the way she spoke to Richard and Jacob on the phone. They both remained not only calm, but continued to be polite and respectful.
On the follow up visit my mom profusely apologized to both Richard and Jacob. She said their response amazed and impressed her. They both empathized with my mom and the stress she experiences. They both understand that the stresses of care-giving and having a disability cause people to buckle. My mom has never forgotten the kindness and respect they showed her during that time.
Richard is the first contact customers have with GT Mobility. What a great fit for this position! You could say it is in his blood, as he is Todd’s son! Richard first worked for GT Mobility when he was 14. He initially cleaned at the Green Bay location. He left at the age of 18 and entered the health insurance business. Richard believes his experience in the insurance field has helped teach him compassion and hospitality. He started working at the Steven’s Point location 2 1/2 years ago and is now a certified mobility consultant through the National Mobility Dealer Association.
Richard’s favorite part of the job is the challenges of finding what works for his customers. He stated, “Not every solution works for everyone” However, it is so rewarding when “someone not being able to drive can now drive”.
There are difficult parts to this job. Richard finds it hard to watch others struggle with health and financial hardships. He also finds it humbling to work with individuals with disabilities stating “This has been an eye opening experience”. “Going that extra mile” is Richard’s work philosophy. We have experienced that “extra mile” like the time Richard gave up his own vehicle for a weekend so a rental van could be delivered to the Point location for me to attend WWE Raw!
Richard told us that he will be a “lifer” at GT Mobility. His future goals are to find more cost effective options for those in need of mobility. Considering the 50k average price tag for an accessible vehicle, Richard wants to find his clients more options at lower prices.
Outside of work, Richard is an avid gamer with a love of role playing games.
Jacob has also been at GT Mobility for about 2 1/2 years. Ironically, like the co-owners, Jacob and Richard are best friends from high school! Jacob’s career as a technician developed from on the job training and certifications. Like Richard he loves his job. Jacob’s favorite part of the job is saying to a customer “Here is your freedom back” He understands that it is not just a vehicle for his clients with disabilities, it is truly their freedom. This perspective makes him perfect for this job.
The worst part of his job is having to condemn a vehicle because it is not safe. Jacob had to do this with my van. The flooring in my van was replaced and the lift was damaged. He had to refuse installing it due to the safety concerns. I appreciate how hard this must be for him. However, it comes from a good place, keeping his customers safe.
Outside of work, time with his 4 year old son is Jacob’s priority. When he does have free time, video games are how he likes to spend his time.
Trust is so important when handing over your vehicle for repair. Search for a business that is customer driven. Additionally, patronize a business that will put your safety before profit. Finding a business which is knowledgeable in grant and assistance programs lessens the burden of navigating them on your own.
GT Mobility is one of those rare gems. This locally owned and operated business is customer driven. They go above and beyond to provide mobility to individuals with disabilities. Thank you for all you do!
Until next time, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’!
I was not compensated in any fashion for this review. All opinions and experiences are my own.
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