Pamela and Marshall Clarkson are a husband and wife team who started Clarkson Mobility, LLC based on their personal expertise and combined experiences to develop a unique handicap accessible transport service.
“For six years, we took care of three of my uncles in our home,” says Marshall. “One of them, Levon Clarkson, was a Vietnam Veteran and was completely wheelchair bound. It eventually became very difficult to get him in and out of a vehicle, so he relied on transportation to and from appointments and any other outings. The arranged transports generally were not comfortable and very impersonal. He could spend two hours trying to get home from an appointment because of the way the routes were run. It just wasn’t accommodating.”
The Clarksons eventually decided to purchase a wheelchair accessible van to have for Levon.
“It took five months to order the vehicle to have it modified and customized for wheelchair accessibility,” says Pamela. “Unfortunately, Uncle Levon passed away one month after we got the van. But I will never forget his first words when he actually got into the vehicle: ‘Wow! This is nice!’"
The Clarksons found themselves in a unique situation.
Pamela had graduated from Indiana Tech with a bachelor’s degree in engineering management.
“At the time of Levon’s passing, I was working in engineering sales and had asked for time off to take care of family matters, but was then let go,” says Pamela. “And Marshall was in the process of coming up with a business plan to use the van to create a transport service.”
Together, they spent six months orchestrating their strategy. Pamela had planned to help Marshall get the business off the ground and then return to work full-time in the corporate world. But it soon became clear that Pamela and Marshall could combine their technical differences and create a unique transport service that would become well used throughout the community.
“We officially started the business in May of 2017,” says Pamela. “We got one call in May, nine calls in June, and then the flood gates opened in July. It has never slowed down since. Even during the pandemic, things have stayed busy. The majority of our business is right here in northeast Indiana, but we will go anywhere throughout the state. We average 300-500 miles per day and we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays and weekends.”
While every transport situation is different, every client is given VIP treatment.
“It’s like a theater inside the vehicle,” says Marshall with a laugh. “We have SiriusXM radio and surround sound. We can play movies for them and they pick out what they want to watch or listen to and we personalize the temperature and how they want to be positioned to be the most comfortable. We have a wheelchair that converts into a bedlike position supporting up to 500 pounds. We have another chair that supports up to 700 pounds. This equipment allows us to extend our service to the bariatric community. We work with nursing facilities, hospice organizations and hospitals as well as individual families from their homes. As long as you do not need vitals taken, our service can transport instead of an ambulance, reducing that extra expense. Our prices are much lower than that of an ambulance.”
The Clarksons are very excited to now have “evacuation” equipment. It’s motorized with tracks and lifts a client up and down stairs and has been very helpful.
“A local group, Council on Senior Services, or COSS, blessed us with a grant to acquire the evacuation equipment,” says Pamela. “We could not be more grateful to them.”
“We offer any kind of transport needed, whether it’s to and from someone’s home or a nursing facility or from one facility to another,” says Marshall. “We can accommodate just about any special request.”
“I ask a ton of questions when we’re taking someone’s reservation,” says Pamela. “We just want to be as prepared as possible to help them, so I ask things like how many stairs? Are they on oxygen? Can they sit up comfortably? Is the client mentally aware and able to comprehend what’s happening? Because we have a 240-volt tower in the back of our vehicle to plug in oxygen or feeding tube units or anything else, we are able to transport more sensitive clients. We recommend making a reservation with us as soon as you make your appointment, but we will spring into action and pick up a client if possible, even if it’s last-minute”
The Clarksons say they are truly amazed at how well everything has worked out with the business, but recognize they couldn’t have done it alone.
“We have to give a shout out to SCORE Northeast Indiana,” says Marshall.
SCORE Northeast Indiana offers mentors with business experience who volunteer their time to help small business owners to achieve success.
“Dr. Mona Dewart, a retired eye doctor, was our mentor and she was great,” says Marshall.
“We took everything she said to heart and she was very helpful teaching us about the search engine optimization (SEO) words and the power behind the belief in your structure,” says Pamela.
In the past year, the Clarkson’s have purchased their second new van, which is equipped with an extra wide ramp. They keep the original van as a backup vehicle. The work they perform is very demanding, but they say they can’t imagine doing anything else.
“It’s just been a beautiful experience,” says Pamela. “This has changed our lives. We’ve met so many families we just love and who trust us to do a very important job. We’re committed and we’re dedicated and we love what we do. Uncle Levon would be proud.”
Owner(s): Pamela and Marshall Clarkson
Phone: (260) 745-6082
Years in Business: 5
Products & Services: A wheelchair accessible transportation service in Fort Wayne, Indiana operating 24/7, including weekends and holidays