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Local business owner profile: Sherry & John Turk of Turk Enterprises

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In a life changing twist of fate, John and Sherry Turk each had a major accident in the same year and became disabled. Rather than letting their disabilities diminish their lives, they quit their jobs and in 1999 opened “Wheelchairs Unlimited” so that they could help others who also had mobility issues.

Unfortunately, the Turks had to close their two-person business in 2008 when Sherry was having health concerns. However, in 2009 the husband and wife team re-opened it, changed its name to Turk Enterprises and changed its focus from durable medical equipment to recreational travel mobility.

The store is now a retail shop where the Turks sell and service motorized scooters, travel chairs, transport chairs, rollators (walkers with wheels) and lifts. Their business is geared towards people who have physical limitations but who still want to be able to go places, such as to the store or to visit neighbors. Turk Enterprises’ motto is “Get out and about!”

Many first-time visitors to the shop are understandably unhappy about their physical limitations. Sherry applies her “empathy with tough love” approach to help them see that mobility devices will actually let them live a larger life than they otherwise could, a life with “independence and dignity.”

Sherry tells the story of their oldest customer, a 106-year-old woman who had lost much of the strength of her earlier years but still wanted to be able to get around. The Turks suggested a rollator, which gave their client the tool and the confidence she needed to stroll up and down the aisles at Costco, chat with other shoppers and make purchases.

In another example, the Turks had a client who had always wanted to go to Yosemite to see the falls. When she became physically limited, she thought that it was no longer possible. The Turks set her up with a scooter and she was able to ride up the trail, see the falls and fulfill her dream.

John’s favorite customers are those who are nearly dragged into the store and don’t want the equipment. John gently urges them to take a scooter on a test drive. He loves watching their eyes light up as they realize that with the equipment their world can open back up.

John and Sherry help customers to understand that having a mobility device does not define them. Rather, the devices are simply tools to help them stay active and to keep them from isolating themselves from what they love.

Sherry tells clients, “Don’t focus on what you can’t do. Find what you can do.”

She lives by her own advice. Running used to be one of her favorite activities, but after her accident her doctor told her that she would never run again. She didn’t give up. She took very slow, small steps to rebuild her strength and was eventually able to run a five-kilometer race.

Running the business itself can be challenging. Just as in the early years of the company, finances are an issue.

“We’re doing it on a shoestring,” John says.

In addition, other businesses that used to make their income only through Medicare-reimbursed sales of medical equipment are branching into retail sales, the specialty of Turk Enterprises.

Through much prayer and the burgeoning needs of a growing senior population, the Turks hope that they are able to keep the business going.

The store carries over 15 brands of equipment and various models so that there are options to fit each client’s needs. John and Sherry train customers on the equipment to help them feel comfortable and confident.

If the equipment ever needs adjustment or repair, John is quite qualified to do the job. As the former co-owner of a Mustang restoration business, he puts his mechanical and engineering skills to good use in servicing the mobility devices.

Sherry says that “we started this business to help others in similar situations to ours.” Her accounts of customers who regained quality of life with their help are inspiring. One wheelchair-dependent gentleman in a retirement facility refused to leave his room because he was concerned that he wouldn’t have the strength to get back to it. The Turks fitted a scooter for him and he was quickly moving up and down the halls visiting people. The tools they provided helped this former fighter pilot “get his wings back.”

Turk Enterprises is located at 5526 Auburn Blvd., near the corner of Auburn and Garfield. The store is open Monday through Saturday and by appointment.

If readers have a suggestion for a local business to be included in future business profile articles, please send your ideas to nfbugg2@gmail.com

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