The Fruits of His Labor – Dennis Sharpe, MK Battery – Interview
Byline: Lynn Schenkman
Dennis Sharpe’s duties as national sales manager for MK Battery aren’t any less demanding just because he works from his home in the fertile wine valleys of California. Approximately 50 times each year, he takes off in a twin-prop airplane from the Paso Robles municipal airport to visit sales associates and attend industry events across the country.
Sharpe has been intimately involved in outfitting people with mobility equipment for 29 years, and for that, HomeCare honors him with a Caring Award.
In 1986, when MK Battery was located in a converted doughnut shop, Sharpe joined the Anaheim, Calif.-based company. Since then, he has seen MK Battery grow from two to 20 warehouses in the United States, and several more in Canada and the United Kingdom.
HC: How did you get started in the business?
Sharpe: I’ve been in the mobility industry since 1974. My father is a post-polio paraplegic. He uses a wheelchair, and he asked me to join him in his business importing lightweight wheelchairs from England. From that, I was exposed to pediatric wheelchair seating, and I became very interested in that market. For 12 years, I worked at Abbey Medical in Los Angeles.
HC: What is the most significant function of your job?
Sharpe: In addition to training our people, we develop materials to train our customers, referral sources [and] government agencies. People look at a battery as a simple product. It’s our job to get them to understand our products in the context of a total package. No piece of powered mobility equipment runs without batteries, so we take the mundane and try to make it attractive.
HC: Describe the philosophy that drives your work.
Sharpe: We’re members of the National Registry of Rehabilitation Technology Suppliers. We are the original corporate sponsor of that group. Our feeling in doing business in the mobility market is that we should not only supply a product, but we also should be partners with our customers. In partnering with them, we feel we need to be involved in industry issues, and [being involved with NRRTS] is how we do it.
HC: What has made you stay in the industry?
Sharpe: The people I’ve worked with. I enjoy working with kids and adult consumers, and the other health care professionals and their families. Most of us got in this business not necessarily because of the money, but because it is personally rewarding.
HC: Where do you see yourself in the future?
Sharpe: I have 20 acres here in Paso Robles, mostly covered in almond trees, but a couple acres are devoted to growing grapes. I sell most of my fruit to Dover Canyon, a 2,500-case winery in Paso Robles. I’d like [working this land] to be my last job – and to go beyond growing grapes to include making wine. I do a lot of homemade wine here. But I’ve ruined many perfectly good grapes.
HomeCare honored six individuals who have provided distinguished service to the home medical equipment industry with a HomeCare Caring Award. Each person was chosen for his or her demonstrated commitment to the HME provider community and service to the entire HME industry.
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