Stuart Mobility is truly a family business. Run by husband and wife team Stuart and Justina Nurse, the business was created solely to meet the needs of their family. Stuart and Justina have two sons, Charley (almost 14) and Fred (11). The arrival of their first child Charley was obviously life-changing, but when Fred was born things were even more different. He never slept and didn’t follow any of the same patterns as his neurotypical brother. At the age of 6, Fred was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, specifically Asperger’s Syndrome.
Looking after the family was a priority but catering for Fred’s needs did not fit in easily with Justina and Stuart’s jobs. They decided it was in the family’s best interests to set up their own business to allow them the flexibility they needed to care for the boys whilst also creating a strong and stable future for all of them.
“As well as needing something that would work while the boys were young, we wanted to build something for their future. Fred has what’s known as ‘high-functioning autism’ – he’s incredibly bright and has a great deal to offer but he struggles a lot with many day-to-day situations and interactions. Anything unfamiliar is difficult, as are many sensory things – change is hard, brushing his teeth is a daily battle, getting out of the house can be really tough. Things are never easy and every day takes a lot of patience, support and understanding. We realised that finding employment later in life may be challenging for him but we know he has a lot to give. Both he and Charley will be an asset to the business. It’s a proper ‘family’ business – created by the family, for the family, and looking after other people’s families!”
Having decided that setting up their own business was the way forward, the question remained: what should that business be? With Justina having worked mostly in the public or charity sector and Stuart having private sector experience, their backgrounds were different but there was overlap with Justina’s former role as Community Services Manager for Derby CVS and Stuart’s job as a Healthcare Driver for NRS. They began to refurbish and re-sell healthcare equipment and soon found their niche in chairs – that’s when Stuart Mobility was born!
Over the years, they’ve developed Stuart Mobility and, despite opportunities to diversify, they’ve chosen to specialise to ensure that they can offer the best possible service to their customers.
“We were conscious that we didn’t want to become a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. While our family is the motivation behind our business, our customers are the sole focus. It’s important to us that we offer the best level of service – and we can only do this by knowing our products inside out. By specialising in chairs we can be confident that we’re providing expert advice and a really high level of service, supplying customers with exactly what they need.”
“Every choice we’ve made as the business has grown and developed has been driven by customers’ needs. We initially thought we’d be mainly an e-commerce business but, because people wanted to see and try the seating, we bought premises and opened the showroom. This now works well alongside the website. Likewise, the delivery and set up was important to our customers, so now that’s a large part of our offering – and it’s always included in the price. Transparent pricing is another important aspect – we don’t say ‘call for prices’ or ‘prices starting from…’; we display the total price you’ll pay on openly our website.”
The boys are already involved in the business, helping out in school holidays and at weekends, sometimes accompanying their dad on deliveries. “Customers love to see the boys and they enjoy helping out – especially when they’re paid for it!” says Justina. “We’ve always involved them so they know a lot about the running of a business – from the delivery side to marketing, admin and accounts.”
“While having a child with ASD is not easy, the difficulties we encounter and overcome as a family become the norm, as do Fred’s unique ‘quirks’. Autism is a spectrum condition so anyone with ASD will share certain difficulties but will be affected in different ways and need different levels of support. We encourage Fred to wear his diagnosis proudly – to be an advocate, informing and educating people. His Asperger’s doesn’t define him but it is an important part of who he is, it’s an important part of our family and it’s the motivation behind our business!”
You can find out more about Autism Spectrum Disorder at https://www.autism.org.uk/.