Scott Liesch crisscrosses the nation representing The Standing Company, trumpeting the many benefits of standing wheelchairs. He sees himself as more than a sales rep: “I want to get chair users up on their feet again.”
The Salesman Travels
For Scott Liesch, an L1 para, this year’s three-day-long Roll on Capitol Hill was essentially a stop on a much longer work trip — the longest since the sales rep has been with The Standing Company. “But it was good because I also traveled with my girlfriend, so we added some personal stuff with business, so that was nice, too,” says Liesch, 53, whose home base is Forked River, New Jersey.
The trip, including ROCH, was structured around personally delivering one of his company’s signature standing wheelchairs to a client in Florida. Liesch likes to tie as many appointments to a drop-off as possible. After leaving Washington, D.C., he met with clients in Raleigh, North Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; and Macon, Georgia; delivered the chair, and then squeezed in presentations in Tampa and Orlando, before stopping off in Tallahassee and at Shepherd Center in Atlanta. “It’s a lot of good stuff,” he says.
On long trips like this, Liesch drives sitting on a ROHO cushion and hopes hotels are as accessible as they say they are during the reservation process. If a hotel doesn’t deliver on what it promised, Liesch has learned a little discomfort today may earn him a free stay next time.
Recently he booked a Holiday Inn Express because it had a pool lift, but it was broken when he arrived. “There were a couple of other things they messed up on, like the air conditioner was messed up, so I complained about it,” he says. “They lowered my nightly rates and gave me a whole bunch of reward points. All these chains, they all have their own little reward systems. You get so many points and you get free stays.”
Before the 2001 dirt bike accident that caused his injury, Liesch was a truck driver who loaded up, delivered and assembled on-site trailers to construction sites. “It wasn’t something where you just get in the truck and drive from one loading dock to another,” he says. “This was a labor-intensive type truck driving,” and not something he could still do with an SCI.
For a few years he focused on recovery, working out at an expensive post-rehab gym for as long as he could. “I soon realized that I would be broke before I would be walking,” he says. “And so, I always told people, I’d rather be broke and walking than have a lot of money and use a wheelchair. But I certainly don’t want to be broke and in a wheelchair. So, I gave up the therapy and I did some of my own therapy for a while after that.”
A pressure sore on his left butt cheek laid him up in bed for three years. During that time, he remembered once seeing a young woman using a standing chair and thought a chair like that might help keep his skin from further breakdowns. He Googled standing chairs, which led to where he is today — a rep for the chair he most prefers.
He couldn’t be happier with this outcome. “I love my job. It’s plain and simple,” he says. “I love the company. We’re a small company, it’s personalized. They trust me. I’m my own boss, I make my own schedule, I develop my own contacts and leads and everything. It’s really great.”
Birth of a Salesman
When I found out The Standing Company didn’t have any reps on the East Coast, I thought to myself, ‘Geez, I wonder if I could do this job?’ But then I thought, ‘How can I do this being in a wheelchair?’ So, I kind of just dismissed it and I referred the job to a friend of mine who was in sales, but he turned it down.
I spoke with the company at the Abilities Expo, and told them I was considering applying, but just figured I couldn’t do this. That’s when the vice president of the company said, ‘You know, we’ve got other chair users that are sales reps for us. They figure out ways to do whatever they need to do.’ And I said, ‘Let’s say I had to go into a facility, and bring a demo chair in.’ He said, ‘You ask a security guard. They’re usually more than happy to help you out, or something like that. You’ll figure out a way. And when you go to somebody’s home, usually somebody else is always there, a family member or a friend, something like that, or you make sure somebody’s there to help you bring your other chair in the house.’
Can’t Live Without:
My friend who also uses a chair has a jet ski davit crane and we use it to pick ourselves up in our wheelchairs and it swings us over onto his fishing boat.
All Work and Some Play:
I usually tie in some pleasure in my travels, whether it’s visiting family or friends or just going anywhere I want. If I want to see something, I just go there.
Why I Joined United Spinal Association:
Because of United Spinal’s support group directory, I get to meet a lot of great people. It’s always really, really nice to be around peers, because no nondisabled person knows exactly what we’re going through.