From the Providence Business News, posted Friday August 5, 2016...
By Mary MacDonald
John Perrotti didn't set out to become a specialist in repair and resale of motorized wheelchairs and other mobility devices. His business started with a single donated wheelchair.
At the time, Perrotti worked in construction. One of his clients gave him a wheelchair and told him to sell it, if he could. When Perrotti couldn't find a retailer that wanted it, or that specialized in resale of durable medical goods, he knew he had found a business idea.
Three years after its launch, Mobility Equipment Recyclers recently moved into expanded space at 6802 Post Road in North Kingstown. The business accepts donations and will also purchase used mobility devices, including power chairs, patient lifts, motorized wheelchairs, scooters and other items.
Perrotti and his employees can fix what needs repair or sell at a discount. "We're doing it so people who otherwise can't afford it will be able to afford it," Perrotti said.
Recycling also is a theme. His idea, on launching the business, was to try to keep durable medical goods, which could be reused safely, out of landfills. When items are packed and shipped to customers, he uses shredded newspapers and boxes.
In addition to selling equipment, Perrotti said he has employees who will install ramps and other access improvements at customers' homes.
"I always wanted to start a business, do something and help others at the same time," Perrotti said.
Mobility Equipment Recyclers does not accept Medicare or Medicaid. It only handles durable medical goods, those that can be sold safely.
It fills a void for people who lack insurance or for people who are insured but who don't want to wait for an insurance approval or reimbursement before purchasing an item, Perrotti said.
The customers run the gamut, from senior citizens with mobility problems to people who have been disabled or have difficulty walking due to illness or accidents. Many of them can't wait for the insurance approvals, he said, and he is mindful that access to the mobility equipment gives them freedom of movement.
"People don't want to wait for that," he said. "Maybe some people can't wait."
Prices vary depending on condition and the equipment being sold, from a few hundred dollars up to tens of thousands of dollars. Electric wheelchairs can cost tens of thousands of dollars. "We deal with $30,000 to $40,000 power wheelchairs all the time," he said.
Since starting the business, he's used radio advertising, sponsorship of a car show and old-fashioned networking to spread the word about the specialty shop.
"We're providing equipment for people that make their lives easier," he said. "We want to get people mobile again."