By Janet Stoica
There’s a new business in the area that specializes in transportation needs for those who are temporarily or permanently disabled and in need of mobile highway transportation.
Advanced Wheels of North Oxford sells and rents newly modified vans for those who require accessible vehicles with adaptive equipment such as wheelchair ramps, lifts, power doors, hand controls, tie-down equipment, scooter lifts, and transfer seats.
The vehicle brands for sale or rental are Toyota, Honda, Chrysler, Dodge and Ford, customized to customer requests. The repair department services all makes and models of mobility vans.
Rick Baker, General Manager of the Advanced Wheels Oxford location, recently relocated to the company’s newest site. “The Quandt family began this business 30 years ago,” he said, “seeing the need for such specialty vehicles and how they offered a sense of freedom for those who were physically challenged. They began their business in East Granby, Connecticut, expanded to the New Haven area, and now would like to assist those in need in the Central Massachusetts area.”
Mr. Baker gives an example. “We’ve worked with the elderly and veterans who want to get back on the road. “We can customize all types of driving equipment for them,” says Rick, “from modified steering and braking controls to left and right foot acceleration pedals.
Mr. Baker became associated with Advanced Wheels five years ago after selling automotive software throughout the New England area for many years. “It was a natural fit,” he said. “I knew the software for these vehicles and becoming more involved in the hardware area was comfortable. Advanced Wheels will work with each customer to analyze their needs as each individual is different. We’re trying to do the right thing for all of our customers. The Veterans Administration has programs that may fund part or all of a vehicle. One of our local representatives worked closely with a veteran client to secure funding for a wheelchair vehicle. We go to bat for our customers.”
Mr. Baker described a situation where a customer who was driving her newly-outfitted Advanced Wheels van was rear-ended by another vehicle. When emergency personnel evacuated her and her service dog from the vehicle, they left behind her specialized wheelchair which was docked in the driver’s position. “Christian Quandt, the company owner, drove out to the crash area, retrieved the woman’s electronic wheelchair, and brought it to her,” said Rick, “He wanted to ensure she still had access to her personal transportation. She was very grateful.”
The Quandt family are genuinely good people, said Mr. Baker. “They have donated vehicles and assisted others who are in great need. They are very compassionate when it comes to helping people.”
The company has done charitable work for local non-profits who cater to the homeless community. Some of the vans for those in need are outfitted with desks and small refrigerators that the non-profits use to advise the homeless of their benefits while also providing them with a little food or drink for their sustenance.
Advanced Wheels works closely with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission as well as Spaulding Rehab out of Boston. Clients are welcome to review the company’s existing inventory of vans or Advanced Wheels will gladly order a vehicle at a client’s request, which would require a 4-6-week lead time. They can adapt existing vehicles as well with hand controls, the most common adaptive devices.
“We can also assist with searching for funding for those who qualify,” said Mr. Baker.
Advanced Wheels, 6 Boulder Parkway (Route 20 West), North Oxford. Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Phone: (508) 731-0073. www.advancedwheels.com
Janet can be reached at [email protected]