Operations

A Passion For Compassionate Transportation

Posted on August 9, 2017 by Lexi Tucker - Also by this author

EAST ELMHURST, N.Y. — Just because one cannot walk, it shouldn’t preclude experiencing the luxury of chauffeured transportation. Just like farm-in and farm-out work, moving the differently abled takes more attention to detail and caring.

Unique Accommodations, Similar Service

Vili Korn, owner of VR Worldwide Inc., and Cory Zucker, executive VP of sales and marketing, have worked together to ensure clients in the New York tristate area have access to a dignified ride. After starting the business with wheelchair accessible vehicles under the name Vega Transportation Company in 1985, Korn decided to downsize his large fleet and only deal with high-end consumers. He renamed the company VR Worldwide in 1987.

“His goal was to provide a level of luxury for those in the ADA world who weren’t used to,” Zucker says. “He was one of the pioneers of revolutionizing the quality of service for ADA vehicle transportation.” While Zucker was hired to handle the sedan and SUV side of the business, he has learned the ins and outs of ADA business during his time with the company.

Fast Facts

Location: E. Elmhurst, N.Y.

Owner: Vili Korn

Founded: 1985 (under the name Vega Transportation Company); 1987 (Became VR Worldwide)

Vehicle types: Sedans, SUVs, vans, and minicoaches

ADA fleet size: 12 (includes wheelchair lifts)

Total fleet size: 42

Employees: 19

Website: http://www.vrwwinc.com/

Phone: (866) 302-2201

To maintain the quality of their business, the focus must be on customer care, he says. “You have to pay extreme attention to people’s needs; it’s unique and unlike any other form of transportation,” he says. Every client getting into a vehicle has very different needs, and you have to stay attuned.

For example, depending on where a customer lives, he might need several people to help get down flights of stairs. For every reservation, you have to check on what it entails to just get the person into the vehicle, Zucker says.

“You have to find out what type of wheelchair they operate, as well as the total weight capacity for the lift in the vehicle,” he says. Older passengers often require more attention, so the company will send a driver more familiar with providing the kind of service needed. “Every detail no matter how big or small [affects] every ride.”

Established Reputation

To succeed, generate good word of mouth, Korn says. Especially in the age of email, Facebook, and Yelp, people in the ADA community talk to each other all over the world. If you don’t maximize your client care, people will hear about it.

“That’s why we get clients from countries all over the world who want to use us when they come to visit the New York tristate area,” Korn says. They’ve worked with people from Great Britain, Australia, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Poland, and Africa, and have provided service for gatherings at the UN, IRS, and FBI. “You name it, we’ve worked with them.”

Ady Genik, executive VP of operations; Vili Korn, owner of VR Worldwide Inc.; and Cory Zucker, executive VP of sales and marketing
Ady Genik, executive VP of operations; Vili Korn, owner of VR Worldwide Inc.; and Cory Zucker, executive VP of sales and marketing
This level of prestige only comes with proving yourself time and again, Korn says. You have to constantly be punctual, keep your vehicles in pristine condition, and select and train the right kind of drivers. Communication and being on time are most important, he says.

Every driver must have a TLC driver’s license and pass a fingerprint background check. The company only hires applicants who have worked with wheelchair accessible vehicles in the past, and they are required to train up to four days.

This includes hospitality training which teaches them how to properly handle clients with special needs. This and a fair wage has helped the business keep some drivers for 17 years. “The people who work with us tend to stick with us,” Korn says.

Passed by Congress in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the nation’s first comprehensive civil rights law addressing the needs of people with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination in employment, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications.

Source: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The vehicles are equipped with wheelchair lifts, seen here.
The vehicles are equipped with wheelchair lifts, seen here.
In Demand

VR Worldwide is often the go-to company for affiliates with ADA transportation demand. “There are people who won’t use us for sedan work because they are happy with other long-term relationships they’ve had for 20 plus years — but when it comes to ADA transfers, we’re the only name they’d consider,” Zucker says.

One of the company’s ADA accessible vehicles.
One of the company’s ADA accessible vehicles.
For operators interested in serving this niche market, Zucker suggests incorporating the same level of service you would for regular sedan work. “A lot of people still do it like it was a Medicare/Medicaid job, but the need for a luxury version is out there and it’s definitely, to some degree, not being met.”

There’s so much demand worldwide that the company is looking to affiliate with more businesses running ADA compliant vehicles (see side box). If operators are unsure where to start, go to your local government agencies handling transportation rules and they’ll guide you, Korn says.

“The population is getting older and people are living longer. More are getting to a point where they can’t walk…that’s why I feel this is a good niche to work in,” Korn says. As self-driving vehicles become more of a threat to the industry, there’s seemingly little talk about robots that can load people in wheelchairs in and out of vehicle yet.

To stay ahead of the game, Korn and Zucker attend trade shows focused on learning, acquiring, and providing the latest technology and amenities for their clientele (see side box).   

[email protected]

Learn More, Earn More

One such event is the National ADA Symposium, the premier conference on the Americans with Disabilities Act. During the past 20 years, it earned the reputation as the most comprehensive training event available on the ADA and disability related laws. Information: http://www.adasymposium.org

Source: National ADA Symposium website

Cory Zucker is working with operators to create a list of affiliates specifically for luxury ADA transportation. If you are interested in being a part of this endeavor, please contact him at [email protected] or (917) 525-9999

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