Wheel:Life, a global initiative that addresses wheelchair questions and mobility challenges, recently featured one of REV Group’s employees in an online Q&A feature. Here’s the Wheel:Life article …
When National Sales Manager Kristina Rhoades took the wheel at ElDorado Mobility, she found herself in the perfect place to help other people who use wheelchairs in getting on the road again. Here’s how Kristina drives home the ElDorado mission — to connect wheelchair users to their world — within her team through her own example of healthy, active living.
Wheel:Life – Would you mind sharing with our readers why you use a wheelchair, and how that has guided your career in serving others?
Kristina – I’ve been “pushing” for as long as I can remember, due to a T-5 complete spinal cord injury at just 10 months old. Growing up in a small town, I began getting involved in local disability organizations at a young age and always felt a motivation to help others. Even as the only kid in the school district in a wheelchair, I became a peer counselor with several certifications by middle school and enjoyed the opportunity to mentor newly-injured patients whenever I would visit my childhood hospital.
In 2005, I was crowned Ms. Wheelchair California and was honored to serve my state as a representative and advocate for people with disabilities and women everywhere. Service to our community, for those with and without disabilities, continues to be an important part of mine and my family’s lives, and I’m happy to be doing the important work of increasing and improving accessible transportation.
W:L – Many people wrongly think cars are a passion just for guys. How did you get involved in the car industry and why?
Kristina – I have had a love for cars since I was a young teen. I’ve been to countless car shows, cruises and races over the years, so this industry had a natural draw to me when the opportunity came along.
I had been an advocate, spokesperson and model in the disability community for some time, and the more I understood about the state of accessible transportation today, the more I understood that this was a space I needed to work in.
It soon became my mission to “fix” accessible transportation by drastically increasing the number of accessible taxis, rental cars, livery vehicles, ride shares and even personal vehicles that are available, safe and reliable for the millions of people that need them to access our world.
W:L – How does your role as national sales manager and a wheelchair user affect the perspective and customer service of all ElDorado representatives?
Kristina – The fact that I am a member of the disability community has a pretty profound impact on my team and how we operate.
I’m proud to say that our sales team is made up of a passionate, dedicated group of people that care deeply about this community and the people who use our vehicles.
Not only do they bring their own valuable industry experience, but due to all of our years of traveling together, they have an even deeper understanding of the challenges that people with disabilities face when trying to secure and rely on accessible transportation.
I’d also like to point out that I’m not the only wheelchair-user that we have on staff. My most recent hire for our sales team was a gentleman by the name of Reggie Bennett, who also happens to roll.
We don’t believe it’s enough to just do business with the disability community. We also want to understand their needs and challenges and do what we can as a company to make positive change and give more people the freedom they deserve through the service we provide.
W:L – As a mom, can you discuss the comfort and advantages of ElDorado vehicles for supporting your own driving needs as well as those of a parent with an active child?
Kristina – I LOVE my Amerivan. I drive a converted Chrysler Town and Country and I don’t know how my family got along without it before now!
From a driver’s perspective, I love the ease of a remote door and ramp deploy, as well as the flexibility to remove both the driver and passenger seats. The kneeling/auto-leveling system makes it super easy for me to wheel up the ramp (even with stuff or a kid in my lap!) and also allows for an industry-leading smooth and quiet ride.
I also have to rave about the responsiveness of the engine and fantastic fuel economy.
From the perspective a mother of a very active four-year-old, I couldn’t be happier! The wonderful storage, DVD player, awesome sound system, numerous charging ports, window shades and so much more have all made it the perfect family vehicle for us. Road trips are a breeze for us now.
W:L – What do you think people should know about ElDorado Mobility and their parent company, the REV Group?
Kristina – REV Group’s mission is to “connect and protect” people all over the world every day. From fire trucks to ambulances, school buses to mobility vehicles, REV companies innovate, design and build products that connect and protect thousands of people every day.
REV owns 26 brands including ElDorado Mobility, employs more than 6,000 people in 16 different plants in the U.S. and produces more than 20,000 specialty vehicles annually.
Based in Salina, Kansas, ElDorado vehicles are built to the highest quality standards, with features that stand apart from the competition. For example, we have the industry’s only full stainless-steel floor with a 7 year/70,000 mile no-rust warranty.
Other thoughtful features include a longer lowered floor with more footrest room in the front for larger chairs, and the widest fold-out ramp and doorway in the industry.
W:L – What kind of assistance does ElDorado Mobility offer for financing? What is the price range for your vehicles?
Kristina – The price range varies based on the features and trim level of the original chassis, whether it’s a lower-end Dodge or higher-end Chrysler. Converted for wheelchair access, our vehicles range from $40,000-$60,000 MSRP. We offer special extended financing through REV Finance, and your local ElDorado dealer is a great place to start when researching additional funding sources and grants.