CHARLOTTE – For Mike Alfaro, working as the general manager of Ilderton Conversion of Charlotte is about more than just selling cars and vans. It’s about making a connection with his clients.
Alfaro has worked at Ilderton for five years. He grew up in Waxhaw before moving to Florida, where he worked in the automotive industry. Eventually, an old boss asked him if he wanted to try something new in the mobility industry. It was then that Alfaro found his passion.
“I gave it a shot and I fell in love with it,” Alfaro said. “It was just what I was meant to do.”
Because he wanted to raise his children in Waxhaw, he looked for jobs in the mobility industry in North Carolina and found Ilderton Conversion. He said the rest is history.
“I got to move back home and I got to stay in the industry I love and here we are, five years later,” Alfaro said.
The company, a family-owned business that has locations in Charlotte, High Point, Myrtle Beach, Charleston and Asheville, specializes in wheelchair-accessible vans and creating accessible adaptations to existing vehicles for people with disabilities.
Ilderton Conversion is able to make vehicles more accessible by adding uplifts to help drivers in wheelchairs get into their cars, providing locking devices to hold wheelchairs down to the floor of the car and installing hand controls for drivers who are not able to use the traditional gas and brake pedals.
“It’s a very rewarding job,” Alfaro said. “It’s giving people their independence back and getting them out to enjoy life.”
Alfaro said customers have a few options when it comes to the process of choosing a vehicle. They can look online at the inventory, come to the dealership in person or have a representative come out to the customer’s location.
For the last option, Alfaro said a representative will have a phone interview with the customer, then go to their location and give a presentation on the vehicle that would be best for them.
He said it is a very personalized process.
“It’s very detailed and it’s a very intimate transaction,” Alfaro said. “We’re really learning about the client as far as the nature of their disability. There’s different types of conversions, so not every conversion is going to be the best fit for that one specific person.”
Though Alfaro has many stories of customers who have been impacted by Ilderton’s services, he distinctly remembers delivering a vehicle to a grown man in tears when his vehicle arrived.
The man said he was excited to finally be able to go to the grocery store again.
“A lot of times, we take things for granted,” Alfaro said. “Even something as simple as going to the grocery store to get out of the house may seem minuscule to some, but it was an eye-opener to see this gentleman literally in tears just because now he can have his independence and go at his leisure. It was a huge blessing for him to have.”
Another rewarding part of the job for him is working with his staff, whom he treats like family. He said his key to managing the staff is communication. He encourages his employees to always come forward with any issues and work together to solve problems, even if it is not their assigned job.
“This is literally my second family, aside from my family at my house,” Alfaro said. “We have each other’s backs. If somebody needs help with whatever that may not be my job, I’m right on it.”
He also treats his customers with the same regard. Alfaro said the company’s Google reviews often cite the exceptional way customers are treated by their professional and friendly employees.
“It’s easy to just leave a five-star review, but when you go to our reviews, it’s paragraphs of what has transpired and how they were treated and what we did for them,” Alfaro said.
He said the company serves many members of the veteran community and is involved with local charities. Recently, Ilderton started a new service called the Care Program, which Alfaro compared to AAA, but with even more. The service will pick up the Ilderton vehicle in the event that it breaks down and send a paratransit vehicle to pick up the driver and transport them to wherever they need to go.
He said the company strives to go the extra mile in all aspects.
“We really treat our customers like family,” Alfaro said. “That’s why people keep coming back.”
Want to learn more?
Ilderton Conversion of Charlotte is located at 1424 Archdale Drive in Charlotte. Visit www.ildertonvans.com or call 844-327-9400 for details.