Meet Chad Hays. He liked it so much, he bought a company

Those of us old enough to have watched TV ads from the late 70s might remember the commercial for Remington shavers, with the famous line, “I liked it so much, I bought the company”. Here’s a variation on that theme.

At this time of year, many of us are at our most reflective, as we contemplate the fast-approaching year’s end. Many of us give thought to what we’ve achieved. One of the most rewarding, motivating aspects of working at Freedom Scientific for people throughout the company is the genuine, tangible difference our products can make. Not everyone can work for a company whose products and commitment to innovation change lives.

Recently I had the privilege of speaking with Chad Hays, a man who liked his Freedom Scientific products so much, he was able to buy the family business in which he was a partner.

Based in Ada, Ohio, Chad lives with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a condition which results in deteriorating vision over time. Chad’s condition was exacerbated a few years ago by a blood clot in his right eye, which until that time was his better one.

Doing his best to live life as a fully sighted person but with rapidly deteriorating vision, Chad was struggling. He works for his family’s insurance company, then owned for the most part by his father. As most of us know, where there’s insurance, there’s usually a lot of paperwork. Without knowledge of technology that might assist him, Chad was wondering how long he’d be able to contribute to the family business. Almost ready to give up, he was relying on employees to read material to him.

That all changed, thanks to a lucky break. The local Lions club Chad attended featured a guest presentation which included Freedom Scientific’s Mike Wood, about the technology we produce. Chad was immediately excited and wondered whether any of this tech might make a difference to his increasingly difficult work situation.

In April 2016, he purchased our MAGic™ Screen Magnification Software with speech, the MAGic Large Print Keyboard, our OpenBook® Scanning and Reading Software, a TOPAZ® PHD Portable Video Magnifier, and a RUBY® XL HD Handheld Video Magnifier.

That’s a lot of gear, but it’s an investment that has paid dividends well beyond financial return. It’s an investment that’s restored independence, dignity and hope.

After taking time to receive training with his new equipment so he could make maximum use of it on the job, Chad is confident about the future. Now, his TOPAZ is a fixture on his desk as he tackles the mountain of paperwork independently. He has a workstation at his home, allowing him to remote into the office and take care of any issue as the need arises.

In less than two years, he’s gone from being concerned about whether he’d be able to continue in his role, to going through with a family plan that at one point seemed like it might not be possible.

While holding a managerial role, Chad was a minor partner in the family business, his father being the principle partner. It’s a partnership that worked well for 18 years. When it came time for his dad to retire, Chad bought out his dad’s share of the company, and became the owner. He kept the business in the family, realizing the dream he and his dad shared, and a long-term goal they’d been working towards. He did all that by the end of 2016, the same year he adopted the technology that restored his independence at the office.

“It was a proud moment for both of us,” Chad says.

Business is thriving. With the help of good staff, Chad is running two offices, quite some distance apart.

Chad’s advice? Come to terms with vision impairment and use the tools available for a fuller life.

“I hid my vision issues for a lot of years,” he says. “At a certain point, you can no longer hide it. You need to find help, either through a Lions club or some other agency. There is help out there.”

Full credit to Chad. It makes all of us smile when we hear success stories like this. We’re proud of the facilitating role our products allow us to play. But Chad and others like him are the ones who take these products and use them to change their lives and realize their dreams.

It’s a great feeling to make a difference.

 

3 Comments

  1. Darrell Bowles

    Hello,
    While I appreciate the chalanges that Chad overcame, and while I can fully appreciate the technology used, there is, still, a slight problem. The article didn’t touch on this, but let’s talk about pricing for a second. The pricing for all the equipment he perchased, probably cost about as as, or more than some people pay for a car in the sighted community. Before people who see the comment start cringing and thinking that I’m going to say that VFO should go the NVDA path, that’s not quite what I am advocating. NVDA in my opinion, is quite a stable screen reader, even though I have been a JAWS user since 1999, at the Tennessee school for the blind. JAWS is what I know, it is what I have built in to the fabric of my technological being as it were. Howevber, the price of the products should be considered. JAWS for the home user, costs $895. and that is without the user perchasing an SMA. The sma right now costs $160. This is a total of $1055. I can hear the argument if you are a student, have the state perchase the equipment.
    A lot of the state agencies for blind people are cracking down on what they call unjustified perchasing. In Tennessee for example, you can possibly the blind services devision to perchase JAWS, but they will not perchase an SMA. Use pell funding to do it? What if the student no longer has access to those funds. Family could perchase it? Most families can’t just drop $5000 for specialized equipment, even if the equipment would increase independence. My self as an example: I was able to see an Elbraille a couple of weeks ago, thanks to the dealer who traveles the southeastern part of the united states. The price for this device with the braille display included is $2795. This is just a base figure, as I do not have the price in front of me. So, JAWS if you do not have it, is $1055, and an elbraille is $2795 and if we throw in the open book software and camera that estimates to be $5850. I’m not advocating making everything for free, as businesses need to function, and my intent is not to run a company out of business.
    All that I am advocating for is at least payment plans for some of the more expensive prodeucts. The average blind user, on there own will not be able to pay for such equipment, and I think that is something to be considered.
    Chad’s story is an amazing story of what can happen if you never give up, but I think some price changes should be considered even if they are minor.

    Reply
    • Jonathan Mosen

      Hi Darrell, thanks for taking the time to give us your feedback.

      We’re keen to make a difference to as many lives as possible, while making sure we’re around for a long time to come, so we can support what we produce, and keep innovating.
      One of the reasons we started this blog is that we know not everyone has the time or the inclination to listen to FSCast, where we talk about many of the programs we’ve put in place to ensure our products are within reach of more people.

      You’ve inspired us to summarize all these initiatives in a blog post, which we’ll publish soon. We hope you’ll give it a read and that you find it encouraging.

      Reply

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