“If you don’t love what you do, go do something else.” This phrase is prominently displayed around 101 Mobility’s Home Office in Wilmington, NC, and with good reason. At the heart of the company is a genuine passion for helping people, and this passion is apparent in each and every employee. Leigh Kelly is one such employee, who has been with the company since its inception. We interviewed her to learn more about her relationship with the company and to gain insights into her astounding success.
A Brief History
101 Mobility was founded in 2008 by two friends, Keith Barnhardt and Luke Sampson, who had a passion for helping people. They noticed the need for accessibility and mobility equipment in their coastal hometown in North Carolina, and decided to provide a solution. The company has since spread, and now boasts over 50 franchise locations across the country. That same Wilmington office now serves as the home office, providing support and training to each and every franchise, but also operates a small branch of its own to continue to serve the local community.
Back when the business was brand new, Barnhardt and Sampson operated as a two-man team to get the business up and running. While out with customers, they realized that they needed somebody to stay in the office and answer the phones – enter Leigh Kelly.
Prior to working with 101 Mobility, Ms. Kelly was an entrepreneur herself and owned a clothing boutique in Wilmington. Unfortunately, shortly after the tragic events of September 11th, the atmosphere changed for the worse and her boutique was broken into on multiple occasions. Coupled with the rise of “fast fashion”, she found herself no longer loving what she was doing and decided to do something else. Her brother-in-law, Keith Barnhardt, provided her with the opportunity to enter an entirely new industry, and she jumped at the chance.
Kelly began as the office manager and quickly fell in love with the business. She learned the ins and outs of the products and solutions, and began taking on more of their account management duties. Before long, she was making good use of her prior sales experience and forayed into retail sales over the phone.
By 2012, 101 Mobility had sold a handful of franchises in different states, but still had a very limited service area. To fill the gaps, Kelly worked with contractors in areas where the company did not yet have a presence to ship, install, and service equipment.
101 Mobility continued to franchise, creating the strong network of coverage present today. Barnhardt and Sampson developed a full-fledged “Corporate Office” in Wilmington to train and support the new franchise owners, stepping out of their sales roles and into management. Ms. Kelly again stepped up and became the Wilmington office branch manager, in charge of sales and operations within the local market.
Loving What You Do
I joined Ms. Kelly on a follow-up appointment at a customer’s home. The client’s husband was in the hospital and would not be able to walk up the large stair case to get inside their stilted beach house once he was released. Kelly had previously met with the client and her daughter to discuss a vertical platform lift, but the two had some reservations about the appearance of the lift, and whether it would be accepted by their neighborhood’s HOA. She answered each question thoroughly and passionately, brought samples of the lift material for them to see and feel, and even offered to add extra railings and lattice around the unit so that it would blend with the deck next to it.
Before leaving, the client’s daughter smiled and looked at Ms. Kelly, telling her, “we’ve been researching this a lot, and looked at a lot of VPL’s online. I’ve even found some that are less expensive than what you quoted, but you are the reason that we are going with 101 Mobility. I trust you, and I believe you that if we need anything down the road, we’ll be able to call you and you’ll continue to help us.”
When Ms. Kelly isn’t working, which is rare considering she provides her personal cell phone number to her clients
and invites them to call or text her any time, day or night, she is highly active in her local community. She is actively engaged with the Harbor Island Garden Club, a local volunteer organization which works to beautify the community, as first Vice President.
Ms. Kelly is also a Committee Member for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and the Cape Fear Heart Ball, a Group Member for the Healthcare Marketers Network, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, Wilmington Cape Fear Home Builder’s Association, and North Carolina Home Builder’s Association.
While not occupied with these organizations, she volunteers with local organizations and events such as Step Up for Soldiers, the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, and Canines & Couture.
As a Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Ms. Kelly is not only a knowledgeable asset to the team but a truly caring individual dedicated to helping those in and around her community and truly exemplifies 101 Mobility’s commitment to caring.