Mark Spottiswoode, Director of Sync Living

Synchronising for the future

After 20 successful years, the company formally known as Disability Needs is embracing the future with a new look as it explores new markets. Now known as Sync Living, the mobility equipment provider and bathroom adaptation specialist discussed with THIIS rebranding, two decades of success, and what the future holds.

From humble beginnings

Starting life as a disabled bathroom supplier over two decades ago, Disability Needs was the brainchild of founder John Spottiswoode. John, along with his wife and one other employee, started the business from a garage after discovering a gap in the Northern Irish market in 1997.

Finding success quickly, Disability Needs grew and branched out from just supplying and installing bathroom adaptations to designing, manufacturing, sourcing, distributing and retailing a wide array of mobility solutions.

Boasting more than 20 staff nationwide, premises in Dublin and Belfast and an expansive product range, the company has continued to develop its offer to end users, care homes, hospitals, housing associations, the health service, as well as the building and plumbing trade throughout all of Ireland and the UK.

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Throughout 2016 and 2017, the company focused on expanding its team, product portfolio and areas of expertise and towards the end of last year, refreshed its brand in preparation for the decades ahead.

In sync with a changing market

Officially changing to Sync Living on the 6th November 2017, the new name and branding is a reflection of the changing views of disability in society, according to Director Mark Spottiswoode.

Mark commented: “It’s a moment of great pleasure for us to reintroduce ourselves with a new face, new name, new showroom and new future.

“The new brand is in response to the changing world around us and an evolving inclusive society. With each passing day, we are being encircled into a more inclusive space where we expect and deserve our lifestyles to work in ‘sync’ with the equipment we may require. Thus, the name ‘Sync Living’.

“The new name duly echoes our ethos of ‘Us + You’, which signifies provision of solutions in respect to the needs of our end users.”

Building on the two decades of successful trading as Disability Needs, Mark says the company is now moving forward as Sync Living and will target additional customers via retail, healthcare professionals and within the construction trade.

“We promise to provide a premium and extensive range of home adaption and mobility solutions, backed by innovative design and top-notch development,” continued Mark.

In 2017, the company expanded its team, filling sales and business development roles, as well as securing distribution for unique mobility solutions, including the paediatric HOGGI range, described as one of the most versatile and adjustable wheelchairs to reach the Irish market.

“From mobility scooters to walking aids to bathroom adaptations to stairlifts, we have got everything to make daily tasks easier and encourage independent living,” added Mark.

Sync Mobility’s ever growing and bustling product portfolio has opened up a large range of customers to the company, supplying mobility equipment to end users, care homes, hospitals, housing associations, the health service and the building & plumbing trade throughout the whole of Ireland and the UK.

Sync Living looks to expand retail and trade operations

A fresh, new showroom

In addition to the company’s new brand, Sync Living has also recently completed refurbishing its showroom at its head office in Belfast, designing a bright, open and fresh space to highlight core product ranges.

As is the trend in more contemporary showroom spaces, Sync Living has given a greater focus to reinforcing the lifestyle aspects of the products.

Incorporated into the modern space is a living area with a profiling bed, stairlift and a suite of rise and recliner chairs, as well as a section dedicated to bathing, featuring a full-length walk-in bath and bath lifter, Geberit Aqua Clean Plus 800 automatic toilet, hand wash basin, free-standing shower chair and fitted wetroom.

Mobility products including mobility scooters and wheelchairs, as well as other products from the company’s portfolio, are on display as well, and according to Mark, there will be more showrooms to come.

“We plan to open a couple of strategically placed showrooms within Dublin to start and then we will look further afield”, he said, confirming the company’s commitment to growing in the retail market.

Two decades of success

With over 20 years of success under their belt, Mark told THIIS what he believed were the key factors to the company’s enduring growth.

“Great staff and fantastic products! We have always prided ourselves on the level of quality and diversity of our product portfolio,” said Mark.

“The majority of our suppliers have been with us since inception and over the years we have developed outstanding relationships. Our team have a combined knowledge of nearly 200 years within the healthcare industry, so we can therefore offer honest expert advice to professionals, trade and retail customers to ensure they get the right products they need.

“In addition, we have an outstanding maintenance and installation team who can quickly and efficiently solve product issues so the customers are not without vital equipment for long periods of time.”

How times have changed

Over the years, the company has seen the market change, both in terms of the quality and range of products available and the expectations from customers. For Mark, one of the product categories that has seen the most innovation over the years are wheelchairs.

“Wheelchairs are the game changer within the healthcare industry,” explained Mark.

“Heavy manual wheelchairs have now vanished from the wheelchair market and have been replaced with super lightweight, highly manoeuvrable carbon frames.They are now stylish, minimalistic, innovative and highly customised pieces of equipment.”

Another area that the company’s director highlighted as having substantially evolved are home adaptations, especially bathrooms, with the rise in demand for one particular adaptation in both domestic and leisure settings.

“When we first started supplying and installing bathroom adaptations, they were a basic design and the customers had a limited choice. In today’s market, the most popular bathroom adaptation is a wetroom,” said Mark.

“Wetrooms are now becoming extremely popular choices in homes and hotels across the globe due to their stylish design. A wetroom is a modern, contemporary, barrier free bathroom that can suit the whole family, regardless of ability.”

With 20 successful years under their belt, Mark provided some insight into some of the challenges facing the industry as Sync Mobility prepares to continue its success for the future.

He told THIIS: “E-commerce within the healthcare industry, I believe, will become the biggest challenge. Online purchases of mobility equipment, for example, may be slightly cheaper for the consumer but advice and knowledge are key for these specialist products to ensure the consumer gets the right product to suit their needs and lifestyle.

“Having a local team who can make small adjustments to make a product work more effectively is also so important, I believe, in this industry.”

Working with the trade

Sync Living is also planning to work closer with its trade partners and develop its network, seeing it as key element to the company’s continued growth.

“We are always looking to build on our trade business and offer quick and easy ordering systems and rapid delivery times to ensure products arrive to trade customers on time and safely,” explained Mark.

“We are a trusted distributor for a number of design leaders in the accessibility market. Our length of relationships with many of these manufacturers means that we are often among the first to hear about new product developments and innovations, a gift we pass onto our clients in every sector too.”

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