Abilities Expo Returns to Los Angeles
Previously paused due to Covid-19, the in-person mobility use event returned to the City of Angels with a packed exhibit hall.
- By David Kopf
- Mar 10, 2022
With Covid-19 infection rates plummeting, the annual Abilities Expo (abilities.com) returned in-person to the Los Angeles Convention Center March 4-6 with an exhibit hall packed with mobility users, caregivers, and family checking out the latest offerings on display.
(Scroll down for photos of the event.)
No longer under pandemic lockdowns, attendees hailed from all parts of California and the West Coast, with many traveling some considerable distances to get there. Attendees’ cities of origin included San Francisco, Fresno, Napa, San Diego, and even Portland, Oregon. Suffice it to say, Abilities Expo is a hub for mobility users who were glad to get back after being on hiatus.
“It was wonderful being able to produce Abilities Expo Los Angeles last weekend after a two-year ‘break’ due to the pandemic,” said David Korse, president and CEO of Abilities Expo. “Seeing folks in person and watching visitors engaging with our exhibitors and sponsors made everyone on our team very happy. We had large crowds on all three days and we can’t wait to return March 10-12 next year.”
Of course, the exhibitors were just as happy to return to the expo, as well. At the Quantum Rehab booth, there was considerable interest in the company’s Stretto chair, while at the Pride Mobility Products booth, one of the big interest points was the iRide foldable scooter, given its light weight and usefulness as a travel scooter. (Pictures of both booths are below.)
“We’ve received more test drives this year than since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Debbie Gnall, marketing administrator with Pide. “Everyone wants to see our products and touch them and learn what they’re all about, as opposed to looking at them from afar. They’re ready to sit in them and go.”
“We saw a lot of people and got a lot of really good feedback on our products,” said Rock Magnota, a design engineer with Pride. “We had a really good event.”
Accessible autos were a big attention-getter at the show, with Toyota displaying its 2022 hybrid Sienna conversions, which just debuted in 2021, and BraunAbility showcasing its 50th Anniversary Dodge Entervan. The 50th-anniversary vehicle features the company’s original Entervan logo on the quarter panels, custom embroidery, and a number of the company’s auto access features.
“We’re coming out of a tough time, and people are excited to get out,” said Jessica Hester, dealer marketing coordinator for BraunAbility. “We talked to a lot of people who said this was their first time really getting out since Covid hit.”
The event featured lots of unique mobility solutions as well. For example, WHILL Inc. was demonstrating its Fi and C2 model chairs. The Fi model is a lightweight folding scooter with a battery capacity supporting up to 12 miles of use. The C2 is a retail mobility platform that is FDA approved and designed to work with various cushions and seatbacks typically associated with reimbursable complex rehab chairs. In fact, WHILL will be partnering with Stealth Products to provide customizations of the chair.
“We’ve been busy non-stop since we’ve opened,” Jon Jenning, vice president of marketing for WHILL, who noted that they had performed close to 300 test drives. “There’s a been a lot of interested in our foldable Fi model.”
The next Abilities Expos will be running April 29-May 1 in New York, May 13-14 in Toronto, June 24-26 in Chicago, Aug. 5-7 in Houston, Sept. 9-11 in Phoenix, Nov. 4-6 in Miami, Dec. 2-4 in Dallas, and March 10-12 once again in Los Angeles.
David Kopf is the Publisher HME Business, DME Pharmacy and Mobility Management magazines. He was Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy from 2008 to 2023. Follow him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/dkopf/ and on Twitter at @postacutenews.