Houston, TX – A family tragedy in 1992 spurred a career change for Tom Poole. The mobility industry was unfamiliar territory, however, after helping a family member purchase a wheelchair van, Tom was drawn to the business and Adaptive Driving Access Inc. (ADA) was formed. By staying true to their family values and outstanding customer service, ADA has taken the Houston, TX area by storm and is looking to replicate their success in other markets.
Tragedies change people; some people have difficulties coping and adapting. However, some people take a personal misfortune and use that as motivation to make positive changes. Tom Poole did the latter. In 1992, a disastrous car accident left Tom’s brother-in-law, Lacy, a quadriplegic. After helping the family find a wheelchair van for Lacy, Tom decided to leave the construction industry and start up a mobility equipment dealership in 1995 with Mike Kizer. The opportunity to use his craftsmanship skills was a bonus to being able to help people gain back independence through mobility.
For the first couple of years, ADA grew purely by word of mouth. By 2004, ADA had eight employees and was enjoying their new spacious building. They also added VMI as a supplier along with their popular Northstar in-floor ramp wheelchair van which brought great new options for mobility solutions to ADA’s customers. In 2007, ADA opened up their second location in Northwest Houston. The city was growing and the market was growing, so to better service their customers, they expanded.
“In the beginning, we would go around to car dealers, getting to know people there,” describes Tom Poole. “We got connected with DARS (The Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services) which was a great resource. We had no clue how to market; we were a mom and pop shop with two pops but we survived. We continued a slow and steady growth and when we moved into our new building in 2003, we celebrated our best year, doubling sales from the previous year.”
“2003 was a tremendous year for VMI as well,” said Doug Eaton VMI’s President and CEO. “ADA made a big difference in our company. Professional and customer focused mobility equipment dealers like ADA make up our nationwide Select Dealer Network who showcase our products and their advantages coast to coast.” In particular, Eaton suggests their Northstar in-floor ramp system has unique advantages that are highlighted efficiently in dealer showrooms like ADA.
Today between the two locations, ADA has 27 employees including Tom’s wife Kerry, his childhood friend, Jeff Mulloy, and thousands of loyal and satisfied customers. The family environment is felt from the top down through to the customers. When Tom speaks of ADA, he says “we” and “our”, not “me” or “mine”. Hierarchy and titles are insignificant since every ADA employee does whatever needs to be done to take care of the customer and the company. ADA is continually looking for ways and opportunities to deliver the best experience for their customers.
“The biggest change over the past few years ad Adaptive Driving Access has been the expansion of our services to make the ADA experience more of a one-stop-shop,” said James Norris, ADA’s General Manager. “We offer oil changes, tire rotation, air conditioning repairs, etc. A thing like the air conditioning working properly is imperative because some of our customers’ lives depend on it. Some of our customers experience frustrations going to car dealerships and regular auto service centers because of accessibility issues and they are not as comfortable in the waiting area. They are comfortable coming to our facility so the expansion of other services was an easy decision.”
From their monthly electronic newsletter that features many things including technical tips and a recipe from Chef Jeff to their annual Customer Appreciation Day, the customers of Adaptive Driving Access are in good hands. Knowing that they have competent and compassionate people to help solve mobility solutions is a priceless. Poole concludes, “My family experienced tragedy and like all of our great customers, we overcame the challenges and strive each and everyday for triumph in life. Our best demonstration of this is the family we have created with our loyal customers and suppliers.”