Bussani Mobility: An Automotive Dealership for People with Disabilities
At Bussani Mobility the day starts at a budding 7 am, in a customer’s car, which is being prepared by technician Bobbee for the car's owner, Gian Rosa. Together, they are meticulously going over every detail; they’ll cover every square inch of the vehicle. From every knob to every dial, to every button and lever, Bobbee is having Gian go over everything in his car to ensure that he can not only reach everything with a 100% success rate, but that there are also multiple fail-safe systems in place. The work to Gian’s car cannot be “good enough,” it must be nothing short of perfect.
Bussani’s service team are dedicated technicians who go the extra mile for each of their customers; they feel an obligation to bring top quality service to each person’s vehicle they service. This is due to Bussani’s clients, who are not your average car buyers. All of Bussani’s customers require mobility vehicles.
A mobility vehicle by definition, is a specially modified car to accommodate those who live with disabilities. Bussani sells, builds, service and rents vehicles for people with disabilities. These disabilities can range from quadriplegic’s to carpal tunnel syndrome – all are treated with the same care. Keeping up with new vehicles and technology is only half the battle - each customer requires special modifications to fit their individual needs. To Bussani’s Team, every customer is a new opportunity to tackle an obstacle in a new and relatable way.
The car’s owner Gian, a man who has spent his life in a wheelchair, gave us his insight into what this new vehicle means to him. He first describes to us the unique process of traveling via plane, pointing out that there is no way for him to seat himself without assistance. He also tells us how it is difficult to travel in transit, using his backup wheelchair instead of his main. Gian takes a deep breath and says “freedom,” knowing that with Bussani’s help, he is now able to be independent in his travels. Behind the wheel of his new vehicle, Gian is just another average American, independently traveling from point A to point B. Gian now has the freedom to drive himself to his favorite concerts and sporting events – trips that he takes together with his brother.
On our way out, we caught up with Bussani’s Co-owner, Dan Walsh, and asked him what drives him to continue to push the bar in mobility. Walsh says “Good business drives good business,” and to him, it's just that simple. To Walsh, his best customers are his employees, and it is evident that he cares about them just as much as everyone else that walks through his doors. We heard a story of Dan going to someone’s house that was in a wheelchair and had not left his house in 10 years due to his disability and self-conscious mindset. He felt his friends would make jokes about his current state saying, “imagine what they will say when they see me in a wheelchair.” Walsh, disappointed in his response and not quick to soften the blow simply said, “imagine what they will say seeing you for the first time in ten years, knowing now that you’re not dead!” Dan did not say this as a joke. In fact, he takes stories like this to heart. Getting people out in the world doing their normal tasks is what he truly wants. There are so many stories like this one that it’s not surprising that Dan is so passionate about his career.
We asked Walsh what the most common topic talked about is when purchasing a car from Bussani for the first time. He said without hesitation, “it’s always the ‘big trip.” When a customer purchases a new car, they always think about the one trip they are going on, whether it’s driving down south to visit family or just hit the open road to see where they end up. Frankly put, he could care less about those trips. Stunned by his response, we asked him what he meant. Walsh doesn’t recommend building cars for these one-off trips. Even though he cares about these types of drives, he is focused on a different goal. His goal for these builds seem small at first, but after thinking about it for some time, we see that it is more important than just those big trips. He asks them, “What about going out to dinner? What about getting your medication? What about going to the doctor?” These are all trips you will take 100 times over before a big vacation, and these are the trips that matter the most. Think about all the different people you would have to ask for a ride or even assistance to get there. Now imagine you can do it yourself.
It’s hard to pinpoint why Walsh got into this business after talking with him. Reflecting on all the stories and after conversing with a collection of people that know him best, it’s actually quite humbling. “Equality and fairness” and “What’s right is right,” The two ideals drive Walsh and his team, each and every day to do what they do best and they deliver those ideals to each customer one car at a time.
The enthusiasm is contagious, and it’s hard not to be affected by his drive. It is clear that his staff is just as dedicated and knowledgeable as Walsh, working together to overcome an individual’s needs and obstacles.
Speaking with Brian Molina, Bussani’s Service Manager, as he was working on a particularly interesting installation. This car can be completely controlled from the driver seat for a customer with only the limited use of his arms. There is a control panel mounted on the driver side door, which has a button to control everything in the car. The steering wheel was similar to a plane’s yaw system; the whole assembly moved closer and farther away from the driver to control the accelerations and braking of the car. The amount of work involved to complete a job like this is staggering.
Bussani is a dealership for mobility vehicles. However, what really sets them apart is their ability to meet the needs of the owner, continuing with consistent quality jobs on any car a customer wants. Brian will offer to build any car as long as the car will fit the needs of the owner. He recently had a customer who has carpal-tunnel syndrome and needed a simpler way to roll his windows up and down. Brian had the window switches modified by adding a small knob on each switch. The solution was simple and sweet; he prides himself on tackling any job no matter the size.
At Bussani, their service plays just as big of a role as sales, offering both full automotive services for the vehicle as well as their own custom installations. Brian offers what he calls “my fault insurance”; everything that goes wrong on a customer’s car is his fault until proved otherwise. That’s just the kind of guy he is. This gives a customer a relationship they need and holds Bussani accountable for all the work they do.
Bussani’s founder, John Bussani, came home from the war and saw his friends, injured by battle, needing ways to drive. He started by installing hand controls in the owner’s driveways and one by one he was building cars. From there, the Bussani business has grown into what you see here today: a full dealership with multiple locations where you pick your car with color and other options along with custom modifications. Walsh started at Bussani 14 years ago as a service manager and worked all the way up to Chief Operating Officer and Co-Owner. He has had some experience as a Service Manager before working at Bussani but quickly fell in love with the work and vision. It was a break from what he was used to, and for Dan, it’s about creating solutions to help people be independent and equal.
Bussani Mobility’s most passionate topic regarding mobility vehicles is the misconception they bring. The products we sell are as OEM as possible. Same engine, same fuel system, same electrical system. They are just moved to accommodate our clients. Our clients are the same too; they just get from point A to point B in a different fashion. Everyone deserves the same consideration, accommodation, and respect. At Bussani, they are determined to change the mindset by being ready and willing to handle any job that comes through their doors.
Bussani Mobility finds value not just in the work they do but the service they provide. Walsh and his team have gone to customer’s houses on holidays and weekends to help when issues arise. To Walsh this is more than just a job, it’s his entire life, and he is proud to say that. We build cars that allow people independence. We believe that Mobility Equals Equality.