Vehicle modifications: Association requires certification

Thursday, April 5, 2012

TAMPA, Fla. - Provider Dave Chesnut says sales for the vehicle modifications side of his business have picked up since he locked in his Quality Assurance Program (QAP) certification.

"It's a great marketing tool for us to let the car dealerships and the public know that we are QAP certified," said Chesnut, owner of Pennyrile Home Medical, which has four locations in western Kentucky. "They can be assured, referring to us, that their customers are going to get the highest quality available."

QAP, which was optional until this year, requires National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) members to meet standards like obtaining liability insurance, requiring certified technicians to follow QAP checklists, and working in an ADA compliant facility, among others. NMEDA audits members twice a year to ensure they're still meeting the standards.

NMEDA Executive Director/CEO Dave Hubbard said the association's membership of around 600 dipped slightly when QAP took effect in January, but numbers are bouncing back as more members are realizing the benefits of the program. 

"It's something that they can sell over someone that's not QAP," he said. "Not only do we say we're good, we can prove it because we get audited."

The NMEDA is a non-profit association comprised of mobility equipment dealers, manufacturers, driver rehabilitation specialists and other professionals in the mobility van industry. QAP gives the association more teeth, said President Sam Cook.

"It assures the consumer that they're going to get a quality product from a reputable dealer," he said. "It's peace of mind for the business owner, as well as the consumer."

Still, not all providers are gung ho for QAP. Provider Rex Maxey's vehicle modifications division has been QAP-certified for years, but tough times in the industry have him concerned about anything that adds more cost to doing business.

"I think that some quality standards are certainly important," said Maxey, president of Penn York Medical Supplies in Binghamton, N.Y. "But it becomes a significant question as to how long the advantages outweigh the expense involved." HME