Lore rides away with honor

Thursday, November 30, 2006

MANCHESTER, N.H. - At an Oct. 30th event at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., Mark Lore found himself in the company of representatives from four prestigious charitable organizations: the Medtronic Foundation, the Mississippi Paralysis Association, the Craig H. Nelson Foundation and the Mike Utley Foundation.
Lore, the president and owner of the Manchester, N.H.-based Ride-Away, and the organizations were all nominees for the National Spinal Cord Injury Association's 2006 Hall of Fame. Although the NSCIA tapped Medtronic for the honor, Lore could hardly complain.
"Medtronic gave more than $40 million in charitable donations last year," Lore said. "That's a little more than we did."
Ride-Away, an 11-location vehicle modification company, donates about 12% of its profits to various charities each year. That may not be $40 million, but it's still a good chunk of change for a company that expects to post $60 million in sales for 2006.
Kevin Brothers, Ride-Away's vice president of marketing, and several other employees nominated Lore for the honor.
"He was in the elite of the elite," Brothers said of his boss making it to the final round of nominees.
Lore and Ride-Away are no strangers to accolades. This year alone, the Rhode Island and Connecticut chapters of Easter Seals and the New Hampshire chapter of the Small Business Administration recognized them for their philanthropy, financial success and industry involvement (Lore's a founding member of the Adaptive Driving Alliance, which helped to develop safety and quality assurance regulations for vehicle modifications).
Indeed, since he bought Ride-Away in 1988, Lore has grown the company to more than 200 employees. He estimates Ride-Away serves nearly 6,000 people with disabilities each year.
The key to Ride-Away's success: "Treat every client like your mother," Lore said. That means offering them five-year, 60,000-mile warranties when the rest of the industry offers three-year, 36,000-mile warranties. Sometimes, that even means buying back their vehicles, Lore said.
But his success wouldn't mean much if it weren't for his ability to help people with disabilities, Lore said.
"I had worked for companies that had professed to do the right thing, but when difficult situations came up, they did what got them the most money--customers be damned," he said. "I wanted a career, but I wanted it to be something that was positive for people."