Ashley Griffiths image

UK Sales Director at Qimova

What is Qimova?

Qimova is a Danish manufacturer of a range of high-quality modular comfort and posture management wheelchairs.

Whilst the name of Qimova may not be a completely familiar name in the UK, we are a well-established and successful manufacturer in mainland Europe and the Far East, especially in Japan.

How did you become involved with the company?

Over the last 15 years, I have always made sure that I visited Rehacare in Dusseldorf. It’s a huge exhibition and I always previously came away with a new product or idea. It was here that I met Henrik Grauslund, the CEO and engineer/designer of the Qimova range of wheelchairs.

I was blown away with not only the comfort aspect, which is what you notice straight away when sitting in the chair, but the adjustability and functions the wheelchair has as standard.

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It is a truly unique product that has everything anyone who requires the use of a wheelchair needs, whether just for a couple hours a day or all-day use.

What does your position involve?

At the beginning, as the UK Sales Director of a relatively small company new to the UK, my priority was raising awareness around our new product. Rather than just marketing however, I got out and about, providing in-depth presentations.

I’m a firm believer that even as the UK Sales Director you have to have a complete understanding of the whole business and to do this, you have to immerse yourself in everything. I would never ask any of our employees to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.

What has the response been since launching in the UK?

Collectively, we agreed to initially start with the NHS and predominately Wheelchair Services as we have a unique range of high build quality wheelchairs from paediatric to bariatric and simple comfort through to high-end posture management.

We have received a fantastic response from all professionals within the NHS from occupational/physio therapists for the seating and functions of the chairs which are standard, to the build quality and bespoke options from rehab engineers.

What is your background in the mobility sector?

Having first got involved in the industry purely by accident after responding to an advert in my local paper for a sales position working for a dealer selling scooters and basic wheelchairs, I have now nearly three decades of mobility and healthcare experience.

When I first started, I had two weeks sales/product training and was then sent out on the road with instructions of what products I should sell that would benefit the company. After two weeks, I hadn’t sold a thing and felt there was too much pressure involved so thought this is not for me

Not one for failure, I decided to give it two more weeks but changed my approach; instead of telling potential customers what they should have, I started to ask lots of questions – what mobility conditions and issues they had and how they wanted to better increase their independence and lifestyle.

I would spend more than an hour getting to know and understand them and subsequently, my sales conversion rate went from 0 percent to 95 percent. More importantly, I gained huge personal satisfaction from helping people and would even get thank you cards!!

A win-win situation and an important lesson within this industry and one that still gives me huge job satisfaction today.

What is your proudest moment professionally?

I suppose my highest achievement to date, apart from my love affair with Qimova, was when I was made redundant. It makes you think a lot about your situation and what you want from life.

Following a chance meeting with a company importing and selling gardening equipment from the Far East and knowing the potential of the mobility market, I decided to take a huge gamble and visit China in search of potential new products and partnerships.

It was a fascinating experience and one I will never forget.

Over a 12-month period, I gained so much knowledge in regards to new products, production, manufacturing, design, negotiation and running a business with my own money.

I came away with a small range of 10 products I believed to be of high quality and exceptionally good value for money. Following nine months of knocking on doors and being turned away, Argos finally said that they may be interested and gave me two days to put a complete presentation together on the industry as a whole and a small range of five products that I had to present at their HQ to the head buyers.

A daunting challenge but one I rose to and against the odds, as well as against 10 other companies competing with completely different products, it was decided to give a quarter page in the Extra catalogue over to mobility.

It was a huge success. In the first week’s trading, Argos had sold their six months estimate. Over 18 months, the product range went from five to 30 and from 20 stores to 480, completely transforming and expanding the industry.

Why should mobility dealers in the UK consider selling Qimova?

My son would refer to it as a “no brainer”. Whatever industry you are in, whether it is the automotive, travel, hospitality, or health, we all want a product that both sells itself and exceeds our customers’ requirements.

We genuinely believe that at Qimova we have designed and manufactured a range of high build quality wheelchairs that offers this and more for the mobility and healthcare industry.

We are looking for a limited number of partners around the UK who we can support and work closely with to join our current family of partners/dealers.

Qimova offers complete and total support to our partners in promoting and growing the awareness of our range from exclusive territory and marketing to presentations and joint assessments to loan stock.

“No we can’t do that!” is not in our vocabulary when it comes to meeting customers’ needs and we have a team of three engineers that will make any bespoke adjustment or accessory to make the chair as unique as the client is.

As a business, we all need to make money to not only survive but invest and grow. If you can do this by supplying someone with a product that vastly improves their health and lifestyle and see a smile on their face, you can’t ask for more than that, both professionally and personally!

What are your interests outside of work?

I love the outdoors so fishing, travelling, as well as working on our new one quarter acre allotment which can only be described as a wilderness at the moment which is definitely an enjoyable work in progress! Also, food and real ale tasting.

If you had to do any other job in the world, what would it be?

I think it would have to be a farmer due to my love of the beauty, peace and quiet of the countryside, together with animals. I was definitely a fan of the Good Life which is showing my age!


Quick-fire questions

Describe yourself in three words:

Hardworking, positive & compassionate

What’s your favourite song?

The Sound of silence – The Disturbed

What was the last movie you watched?

Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)… best film ever!

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

To see into the future of course…

Favourite place in the world?

I have lots of places due to travelling but my favourite, either after a holiday or hard day at work, must be home.

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