gtk-cocktail-party-finalGTK recently celebrated 25 years in the industry.  Owners Greg and Marguerite Kline hosted a cocktail party with guests that included the NSW Minister for Disability Services, John Ajaka. A new website and logo was also unveiled on the night.  GTK’s bold new tagline ‘ultimate activewear’ is a statement to clients and the assistive technology industry. “It is strongly end-user focused and aligns directly with the mantra of the NDIS,” business/clinical manager, George Ajaka told F2L.  “We are committed to offering the best solutions possible from our product portfolio. Tell us your goals and we will supply the ‘ultimate activewear’ to make it happen.”

The company’s website has been redesigned with categories separated into adult, kids, indoor and outdoor activewear to compliment the product range.  “The new logo and tagline highlight that we are not only about products and mobility but offer an entire solution. It is a new look moving forward and the GTK vision is to change the way people think about assistive technology,” he said.

In his welcome speech, GTK managing director Greg Kline said:  “Our products make it possible for people with disability to reach their potential at home, in the community, in the work place and in sport. While we are here tonight to celebrate GTK Rehab as a company, for me the real celebration is what we have done to improve the lives of our clients by enabling them to do things they would otherwise not have been able to achieve. As I look back on our success over the years I recognise important elements that have made it possible and these include putting the clients at the centre of everything we do, having exceptional staff and great suppliers. First and foremost delivering positive outcomes for our clients has been our main focus. Everything else comes second.”

Planning has been key to the success of the business. “In the early years I decided we would concentrate on the complex technology supply sector and not be a retailer or operate in the hospital sector. When we first started GTK Rehab I noticed the technology coming into the market was becoming more complex. To achieve the best outcomes for our clients I employed occupational therapists to help our clients find the best solution.  Another building block in our success was making after sales service a priority.  From day one we employed service technicians and strived to achieve same day service. Having great suppliers has also been an essential part of reaching this 25-year milestone,” he said.

 Kline has seen many changes as new products and new business models disappeared and local manufacturers and distributors ceased trading.  But the greatest change of all is the NDIS because, he said, it will totally change the way the industry works. “People outside the industry have little understanding of the scheme and most people I speak to just think it is for people with disabilities.  What they don’t realise it is also for families of those with a disability. The NDIA vision for assistive technology is ensuring that people will have a choice and access to individual services.”

Kline added that the NDIS will also change the way companies in the industry do business.   “This is a massive scheme and no doubt there will be glitches along the way but compared to the funding schemes I have worked with it is a huge step forward.  When I first started in this industry 30 years ago equipment for children under 16 was not funded by government and for those wanting equipment getting it depended on your post code, your relationship with your local funding body or organisations like Variety Club.  In some cases people could wait two to three years to get equipment and some moved suburbs to get funding.”

NSW Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka also spoke at the event.  He said while the government is transitioning out of being a service provider it is the right approach because all the evidence clearly showed that the non- government sector has the flexibility and innovative approach needed to be able expand their services to meet client demands. “I am very confident that over the next 18 months in the transition to the NDIS it is the right decision as organisations like GTK have been able to demonstrate first hand over the years how innovative the sector has become, particularly in the area of assistive technologies.”

He said the government is often questioned as to why it is doing things differently especially when it comes to closing large residential centres and building homes for people with disability. “The simple answer is assistive technology, because the reality is that without it for them to be inclusive within their communities would not be possible.”

Another guest was executive officer of the industry association ATSA, Chris Sparks, who noted:  “It was a strange industry that Greg decided to enter with its high service, high care and being generally unprofitable. Yet the good people who get into it, stay in it. This is a unique industry because every time we get it right, it increases independence, lessens pain, it can improve dignity and help the wellbeing of the individual.”

From left, Josh Colmer, Greg and Marguerite Kline, NSW Disability Services Minister John Ajaka, George Ajaka and Andrew Rousham.