Patti and Michael Castoria focus on making life a little easier for those with mobility challenges.//photo by Jim Coarse
Many of us know at least one person who has trouble getting around without the help of a scooter, wheelchair or stair lift. And it’s not always a senior citizen—people of all ages who have experienced illness or traumatic injury may require mobility equipment.
True Mobility, a small, family-owned operation in New Castle, is Delaware’s only full-service mobility dealership, which sells and services mobility vehicles and installs stair lifts, vertical platform lifts and ramps in homes for accessibility. Michael and Patti Castoria opened the business in 2010, but Michael has a long career in the automotive industry.
He was recruited in Arizona in the ’90s by Vantage Mobility International, the mobility industry’s leader for wheelchair-accessible vehicles, to be a part of its sales and marketing team. “I was setting up dealerships, so I decided to do it for myself,” says Michael.
Michael believes that the service his company provides is much more than just a piece of equipment.
“The thing that makes us different is we try to connect all the dots through their home, through their personal mobility and through their transportation device,” he says.
Michael recalls a visit to the store from a woman with multiple sclerosis. He let her take one of the vans that had been modified with hand controls out for a test drive. “The smile on her face… she had a new sense of freedom,” he says.
When an elderly pastor using a push wheelchair stopped in and asked Michael how much a scooter was going to run him, Michael gave it to him for free. “He cried so hard he almost fell out of his chair,” the couple recall.
The available options can be a bit overwhelming, but the Castorias aren’t pushy. On a particular Friday, a couple stopped in to inquire about stair lifts and Patti let them “see, touch and feel” without any pressure. The couple asked a few questions, looked around and ultimately left without making a purchase.
“We’d rather educate you before you spend a lot of money,” says Patti, who wears multiple hats, including sales and bookkeeping. She also spends much of her time building relationships with local veterans; True Mobility collaborates regularly with the Paralyzed Veterans of America Colonial Chapter out of Newark.
“We do repairs to wheelchairs and assistive technology devices through the Veterans Administration. There are some things that the VA might not cover that we help with, like lift chairs,” says Patti.
While True Mobility might be the state’s only full-service mobility dealership, the couple believe that lack of awareness is still the company’s biggest competition.
“Most people are just not aware of all of the technology,” says Michael.
For example, True Mobility sells wheelchair-accessible vans that can be modified based on individual needs. Add-ons can include hand controls, wheelchair tie-downs for extra safety and security and transfer seats, which make it easier to enter and exit a vehicle.
“This is not for what you can’t do, it’s for what you can do,” says Michael. “This is a very uplifting job more than anything else. You get to see somebody whose life may be changed dramatically for the better with some simple assistive technology.”
The couple become extremely close with many of their customers, and continue to take care of them even after a sale has been made. “You get new challenges and new projects. We do have sad times,” Michael says, “but you can always look back and see how much better their lives were because you helped them.”
773 South DuPont Highway, New Castle • 836-4110