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Stem Cell Study for Dogs – MyWabashValley

Terre Haute, IN – Maggie Mae and her owner Robert Howrey come from Paris, Illinois for a check-up at the Wabash Valley Animal Hospital in Terre Haute. She doesn’t act like it, but Maggie Mae is a senior citizen and she has problems with her joints.

“Arthritis is a common condition in older dogs and we like to help them out,” said Dr. Andrew Pickering, veterinarian.

A California company called “Animal Cell Therapies” has enlisted veterinarians all across the country to participate in a study of using stem cells for dogs with arthritis. Some of the canines in the study receive an injection of stem cells, others get just a saline solution.

Local vet, Doctor Andrew Pickering doesn’t know which injections Maggie Mae is getting, but she no longer limps, and he’s encouraged by the results.

“We’re hoping this particular type of treatment will cure the condition for a long period of time so we don’t have to keep giving the dog medication all the time,” said Pickering.

Howrey says it’s almost like having a new dog. “It’s been about six weeks, so now she’s back doing normal activities, she runs, she chases squirrels ”

The research will continue for several more months. And the local clinic is still looking for owners who would like to get their pets involved. Study participation is free for dogs that qualify. Plus, even the animals that receive the saline injections will be able to get the stem cell treatment once the study is complete.

Click here to connect with the study web page

Click here to connect with the Wabash Valley Animal Hospital

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Stem Cell Study for Dogs – MyWabashValley

These Six Startups From Y Combinator’s Demo Day 1 Are Ready to Transform Our World – Futurism

A Room Full of Ideas

Great ideas,given the proper support, can change the world. Thats one of the reasons seed funding provider Y Combinator helps innovative startups acquire the financial resources they need to put their ideas into action. Since 2005, theyvefunded about 1,500 startups, and two times every year, they present some of those companies to investors via a three-day event known as Demo Day.

For the firstdayof Y Combinators Summer 2017Demo Day event, the startup accelerator presented 50 companies that all have remarkable potential. While you can check them all out on TechCrunch,the following six startups earn our vote as the most futuristic of them all.

Founded by a group of medical doctors and biomedical research scientists, Forever Labs combines two of the most advanced fields in modern medicine: stem cells and anti-aging research.

The startups current staff of 20 doctors wants to take a different approach to fighting age-related diseases by cryogenically freezing stem cells that can be used to combat such diseases when a person is older.

According to the company, stem cell storage couldgrow into a $56 billion market, and the figure doesnt seem outlandish considering the rapid pace at which anti-aging studies and stem cell research have been advancing lately.

Sunuisanother startup with a health-focus, only instead of combatting aging, their goal is to help those who suffer from visual impairments.

The company wants to help blind people navigate streets without having to depend on a cane or a guide dog. To do this, the startup has developed a sonar bracelet or smartwatch that vibrates to alert visually impaired people of nearby objects.

Sunu band combines sonar or echolocation with gentle precise vibrations to inform the user about objects or obstacles within their environment, according to the companys website. After beta-testing the device for six months, Sunu says it managed to reduce the chances that their vision-impaired users got into accidents by 90 percent.

Not all of the startups featured at Demo Day were focused on health and medicine, though this next one combines materials engineering withtextile science.

Kestrel Materialshas designed a fabric thats a step-up from breathable and waterproof types, and their goal is simple enough: reduce the need for bulky layers. To do this, the startup has created an adaptive material that reacts to cold and warmth.

When exposed to cold surroundings, the fabric flexes and creates air pockets that trap heat and keep people warm. During warmer weather, the air pockets collapse and prevent heat from being trapped in the clothing. Since the material uses common fibers, such as nylon and polyester, the applications for such an adaptive fabric are as plentiful as the styles of clothes people wear.

Few things scream future quite likeflying cars, and the next two startups are looking to extend their reach into that space.

First is Skyways, a startup based in Austin, Texas, thats building vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) delivery drones. While they arent exactly the kinds of flying cars you may expect to one day operate yourself, delivery drones like Skyways are positioned to be just as big a part of that flying future.

Skyways drones are capable of hauling loads of up to roughly 20 kilograms (45 pounds), and the company wants to use them to provide the military with a transportation service that doesnt put peoples lives at risk.

Now, this startup takes flying cars to the next level.

Pykawants to make autonomous single-person aircraft a part of our reality, and theyve already built a 181 kilogram (400 pound) one that can fly itself.

While theyre ironing out the tons of regulations requiredfor commercial use of this transportation system, Pykas taken on a side gig in New Zealand as an autonomous crop duster.

Speaking of autonomous tech and farming, thisstartup wants to employ robots as vegetable farmers.

Modular Science, as their name suggests, is into building modular machines for agriculture, and one of their products is a specialized plant-farming robot. The companys goal is to automate 99 percent of the vegetable farming process in the next six months.

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These Six Startups From Y Combinator’s Demo Day 1 Are Ready to Transform Our World – Futurism

Doggy fun walk invitation | News24 – News24

PEOPLE of all ages and fitness levels, and their four-legged furry friends are invited to participate in the 4thAnnual Sunflower Doggy Fun Walk in support of The Sunflower Fund.

The event is held in association with Village Veterinary Clinic, Petwise and co-organiser Debbie Muller of Cute Marketing Solutions.

The event takes place on Sunday August 27 at the Kloof Country Club cricket field and starts at 9am with registration taking place between 8am and 8.45am. Entrance is R50 for a dog or a person and includes a 2017 signature Sunflower Tope (Tube of Hope) and a goodie bag for the first 200 dogs.

Only socialised dogs on leashes will be allowed entry and wastage bags will be provided for owners to pick up after their pets.

The event aims to raise funds and awareness for The Sunflower Fund whose role is to educate and register more blood stem cell donors to give hope of life to patients suffering from life-threatening chronic blood disorders like leukaemia.

For pre-registered bookings and further information, please contact Tanith King on 031 266 1148 or email

For more information on The Sunflower Fund or how to become a blood stem cell donor, visit or call toll free 0800 12 10 82 .- Supplied

Doggy fun walk invitation | News24 – News24

Four-legged walk to fundraise for Sunflower Fund | Southlands Sun – Southlands Sun

(Back) Lisa Beard, Craig Mostert, Sphelele Gassa (front) Tanith King and Debbie Muller.

PEOPLE of all ages and fitness levels, and their four-legged, furry friends are urged to participate in the fourth annual Sunflower doggy fun walk on Sunday, 27 August at the Kloof Country Club cricket field.

The event starts at 9am with registration taking place between 8am and 8.45am.

Entrance is R50 for a dog or a person and includes a 2017 signature Sunflower TOPE (Tube of Hope) and a goodie bag for the first 200 dogs. Only socialised dogs on leashes will be allowed entry and waste bags will be provided for owners to pick up after their pets.

The event aims to raise funds and awareness for The Sunflower Fund, which educates and registers more blood stem cell donors to give hope of life to patients suffering from life-threatening chronic blood disorders such as leukaemia.

For pre-registered bookings and further information, contact Tanith King on 031-266-1148 or email The fun, family outdoor event event is held in association with Village Veterinary Clinic, Petwise and co-organiser Debbie Muller of Cute Marketing Solutions.

For more information on The Sunflower Fund or how to become a blood stem cell donor, visit or call toll free 080-012-1082.

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Four-legged walk to fundraise for Sunflower Fund | Southlands Sun – Southlands Sun

Catching up with Kai Owens, the blind 15-year-old skimboarder – Purpose 2 Play

Kai Owens is legally blind.


Already this summer, the 15-year-old has posted more than 100 Instagrams highlighting his exploits skimboarding the liners on Tybee Island, Ga., giving front shuv-it tutorials, doing sick tricks on his skateboard, or just mastering the highest flips on his trampoline he possibly can.

Oh yeah, and surfing. But more on that one later.

Clearly, vision is optional for daring feats with this kid.

Photo: Laurie Lattimore Volkmann

In fact, its so non-essential for Kai who has had impaired vision since he was 10 that he has earned a skimboarding sponsorship from Exile Skimboards as the first legally blind sponsored skimboarder in the world.

You may be wondering how a kid who can barely see the waves hes riding gets sponsored.

Well, basically, you are a badass teen that has no fear about trying something new.

If I want to do something, I just do it whatever it takes, the ninth-grader at Southeast Bulloch Middle School told us last year. And most of the time, I do it better than sighted kids.

As a sponsored skimboarder, Kai is developing his brand via Instagram, boasting his #noexcuses hashtag while promoting his new sponsor. Its a page out of the Austin Keen manual for self-marketing that the Tybee native and world skimboarding champ has taken to a whole new level.

Kai subscribes to that method.

Basically, I just wear their stuff, promote their boards and get their name out there by posting a bunch to Instagram, he said of his deal with Exile, which came about when Keen, also an Exile ambassador, put in a good word for Kai after meeting him at SkimTybee camp last summer.

After camp I was just talking to Austin about how I could get sponsored, and he said just post every day on social media and Ill put in a good word for you, Kai recalls. And then, boom! I was sponsored.

Keen, who is an Instagram sensation in the water sports world with more than 225,000 followers, is a good person to know. But the world champ feels the same about knowing Kai.

Kai with Chad (left) and his brother, Cash (right). Photo: Laurie Lattimore Volkmann

He inspired me actually, Keen said after camp last summer. His attitude of just going for it, being happy for whatever you havethats awesome.

In fact, at the urging of his skimboarding friends from SkimTybee, Kai will participate in his first competition the end of August at Vilano Beach, Fla. Hell be the kid wearing the bright yellow Blind Athlete shirt and that will be the only way youll recognize he has any issues with his sight.

With the mentality he has, Keen added, theres no way this dude will be stopped.

Scanning Kais Instagram page, its easy to see he was a quick study on the Keen method and loves being an extreme sports ambassador to all kids, not just those who may be visually impaired.

Super sick time puddle boarding [emailprotected] Tommy!

First ever flip trick, I landed this heel flip today; sorry about the [emailprotected][emailprotected][emailprotected]mesports#boardsports#actionsports

Landed my longest stand up longboard slide today! [emailprotected][emailprotected][emailprotected][emailprotected]s#extremesports#watersports#summertime#summerfun

Although snowboarding remains on Kais to-do list, he settled for surfing as his challenge du jour this past summer.

And his willingness or perhaps inherent need to seek new adventure via surfing was no surprise to anyone, least of all his family.

His mom, dad and big brother Cash have been helping him figure out ways to satisfy his daredevil blood ever since he began losing his sight almost four years ago.

Kai has retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a rare and usually inherited degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment. Where most of us have a wide range of vision near, far and peripherally Kai sees the world as a picture with many pieces missing and hardly any detail.

There is no cure yet (though gene therapy and stem cell research is in the works), and chances are high that the limited vision he has currently could disappear altogether.

Sometimes I get anxious about losing my sight completely, Kai said, who hopes to get a guide dog in the next few years. Then I know Ill just keep doing what Im doing now or figure out a way to keep doing it.

So far that hasnt been a problem as there has always been a way.

Photo: Laurie Lattimore Volkmann

If he wants to do it, we let him do it, Kim told us last year. And we get creative to make it as safe as we can. We just sit back and say, OK, how are we going to do this?

How to learn to surf came in the form of Indo Jax Surfing Charities in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., where founder Jack Viorel and his staff host a week-long camp for visually impaired kids.

The charity, which is committed to empowering disadvantaged, medically fragile, and special-needs children through surfing, believes the ocean has profound healing properties that can build self-esteem. Kids learn for free and just pay food and hotel expenses during the week.

This was a really unique opportunity for Kai. It allowed him to explore a new board sport, in a safe environment that was tailored to visually impaired kids, Kim said, adding that individuals can donate to the camps efforts via crowdrise. It was so cool to meet other families who were passionate about keeping their VI kids participating in sports and outdoor activities as the majority of VI kids we typically encounter are sheltered and very introverted.

Although Kai does not lack self-confidence, surfing still required a learning curve and Indo Jax was the perfect solution for someone with limited vision. Compassionate instructors who knew how to communicate what the water was doing proved essential for Kai and his fellow campers.

Surfing came naturally to Kai since he already skims and skateboards, but the depth of the water and the strength of the waves was new to him, said his mother Kim, adding that the second day with powerful and choppy waves was especially challenging. When hed fall off his board, hed feel very overwhelmed by the force of the waves and his inability to locate other people or touch the ground.

But Kai was always in good hands, thanks to the support of his instructor Chad, who encouraged him to feel comfortable amidst the charging waves.

The most challenging part was paddling out through the waves when there was a big set rolling in after my last ride to shore, Kai said of his experience. It was hard because it was scary trying to paddle into a big wave and having it throw me back 40 feet into the rough water. Then Id have to start paddling again.

But by the third day, the 15-year-old was well on his way, and those overwhelming waves were just another great adventure in the #noexcuses life of Kai Owens.

My favorite part of the camp was the feeling of getting up on the big waves for the first time, he said, highlighting the fact that some were more than three feet high. Any novice surfer knows thats a daunting wave even when you can see it much less when you cant.

Photo: Kai.Owens/Instagram

Like so much else that Kai does through his activities, the teenage ambassador is using it to promote the sport and the challenge for other kids with impaired vision.

I would definitely encourage other VI kids to try the camp because its a safe environment for getting used to the ocean and having fun, Kai added.

Plus, there are some pretty sick waves.

I definitely like skimboarding better because with surfing you have to paddle way out just to wait for a wave, and even if you get a good wave, youre punished by having to paddle back out there, he laughs.

But Kai is already scheming how to incorporate surfing into his skimboarding regimen via a board transfer another Austin Keen specialty.

And just like always, Kai is thinking of how he can do it, rather than worrying about why he cant.

I really dont think it will be all that hard, he says.

Yep, no excuses.

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Catching up with Kai Owens, the blind 15-year-old skimboarder – Purpose 2 Play

Jonathan Pitre marks one year in Minnesota, his return still uncertain – Ottawa Citizen

Jonathan Pitre’s mother, Tina Boileau, says it’s hard to believe they’ve been in Minnesota for a year now. ‘Every time we fix something, we break something else,’ said Boileau.Tina Boileau / .

Jonathan Pitre and his mother, Tina Boileau, will mark a bittersweet anniversary Saturday: their first full year in Minnesota.

Pitre, 17, arrived in Minneapolis on Aug. 19last year to pursue the only treatment with the potential to dramatically improve his life and to escape the prospective death sentence imposed by his genetic skin disease, epidermolysis bullosa (EB).

The year has been a physical and emotional endurance test for mother and son and theres still no end in sight to their marathon.

Its almost hard to believe that it has been a year already, said Boileau, but we arent any closer to coming home.

She called the year a gut-wrenching roller-coaster ride: This is that roller-coaster thats missing tracks.

Pitres first stem cell transplant failed last October, which meant that he had to suffer through a second round of chemotherapy and radiation in April to prepare for a second attempt. That transplant has successfully taken root in his bone marrow, but it has been accompanied by a raft of complications, including bacterial and viral infections, kidney problems, blood pressure issues and breathing difficulties.

Pitres most recent problem is a skin infection on his back, which has proven resistant to antibiotics and to the bleach that Boileau normally uses to disinfect his wounds.As a result, she had to bathe her sons back in bandages soaked in diluted vinegar.

His pain has been difficult to control, and Boileau spends hours each day and night gently rubbing her sons back in an effort to relieve his discomfort. His nurses have joined the effort.

Its odd that someone with such sensitive skin wants to be rubbed, but it helps him more than any pain medication out there, Boileau said.

Pitre is also battling another blood infection, and the skin on his face has started to be affected by EB blistering a likely byproduct of the excess fluid in his body. He receives two units of blood each night because his body is not yet producing enough blood cells on its own.

Every time we fix something, we break something else, said Boileau. Unfortunately it has been like this for a while now.

They have been in hospital for all but two days of the past five months.

Pitre received another transfusion of his mothers stem cells Monday, and doctors are hoping it will boost his weakened immune system. Its expected to take about three weeks for the stem cells to make their way to his bone marrow and to begin producing new blood cells.

Most of their time in the U.S. has been spent in their room on the fourth floor of the University of Minnesota Masonic Childrens Hospital. Boileau sleeps on the couch.

We often just lay in bed together at night: we have the most beautiful sunsets out our window, she said.It has become so familiar that it feels like home away from home but we cant wait to get back to our real home.

Boileau has learned much about her son during their difficult year.

I always knew he was strong and determined, but he has continued to surprise me:He never gives up and tackles every thing that comes along, she said. Hes so determined; he still holds on to that thought of being able to walk (his dog) Gibson some day.

Boileau said her sons skin continues to show signs of improvement a fact that makes their medical ordeal easier to accept. They focus, she said, only on whats in front of them each day.

I just want to hear, I feel good today, mom. This was all worth it.

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Jonathan Pitre marks one year in Minnesota, his return still uncertain – Ottawa Citizen

Fun day in aid of father’s campaign – Bexhill Observer

The De La Warr Pavilion lawn will host a Family Fun Day next weekend as part of an effort by the Get Neil Walking campaign to raise funds for a father-of-fours treatment for Multiple Sclerosis.

The event, on Sunday, August 27, will feature a dog show offering prizes in categories such as scruffiest dog and dog most like its owner, with contestants being judged by Elly and Mickey of La Roux.

There will also be other exciting activities including a bouncy castle, fire engine displays, face painting, raffles, ice cream, burgers and more.

A BT engineer until his illness forced him to stop working four years ago, Neil Jenkins, 45, started having symptoms in 2010 and is now no longer able to walk.

His family and friends are currently trying to raise 90,000 to send him for treatment in Israel.

MS disrupts the ability of the central nervous system to communicate by damaging the covers of nerve fibres. Around 100,000 people in the UK live with MS and a further 100 are diagnosed each week.

Hematopoietic Stem Cell Treatment involves using chemotherapy and the patients own stem cells to reset the immune system.

The procedure halts the progression of MS but is not available in the UK for wheelchair-bound patients.

The Get Neil Walking campaign has already received more than 27,000 in donations, including 1,000 that was mysteriously posted through the familys letterbox in February, and are hoping next Sundays Fun Day will further increase the possibility of getting him the treatment he needs.

Time is a critical factor and if Neils health deteriorates below a certain threshold he may no longer meet the eligibility requirements.

Donations can be made at as well as at the event, which runs from 1pm to 4pm. Spaces are still available for anyone wishing to run a stall for a minimum donation of 15.

For details, contact either Martin at or Geraldine at

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Fun day in aid of father’s campaign – Bexhill Observer

Stem cells could benefit cockapoo’s knee issue – Albuquerque Journal

………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ……….

Dr. Nichol: If your cockapoo has somewhat bowed rear legs, one or both of her knee caps (patellas) may slip out of its groove at the lower end of her thigh bone. Some patellas dislocate (luxate) just occasionally. A dog may skip for a few steps and then use the leg normally again after the patella slips back into the groove.

The knees of a dog with luxating patellas are vulnerable to injury. Your girls missed jump may have strained the supportive tendons that guide her patella. Rest and anti-inflammatory medication can help in the short term but the anatomy would still be structurally unsound. The only permanent solution will be surgical remodeling of the attachment of her patella and the groove in her lower femur.

Called a tibial crest rotation this surgery is a long-established procedure that many veterinarians are skilled at performing. But even with the geometric forces corrected, some chronic damage to a dogs tendons and cartilage will remain. Thats what makes stem cell therapy valuable.

While your girl is under anesthesia for knee surgery her doctor can make a small abdominal incision and remove a bit of fat. Your dogs very own stem cells (no risk of rejection) will be processed and shipped back overnight for injection into her knee. Over the following weeks the stem cells will stimulate regeneration of chronically inflamed tissues, resulting in a stronger and more comfortable joint.

Finally, stem cell therapy, also known as regenerative medicine, is not new. Veterinary orthopedists have used stem cells for 15 years to speed healing and reach better long-term outcomes.

Each week I make a short video or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge on my website, Every Tuesday it will arrive in your email. Ill also send you my free Pet Emergency and CPR guide.

Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). Questions on pet behavioral or physical concerns? For answers, Like my Facebook page at or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.

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Stem cells could benefit cockapoo’s knee issue – Albuquerque Journal

Beaumont patients pay tribute to heroic hospital staff – Dublin Live

Former patients of Beaumont Hospital with serious ailments have returned to thank the staff for their tireless efforts and for going the extra mile in helping them regain their health and wellbeing.

A reception held at Beaumont honoured the teams and members of staff who were thanked with an ‘Honour Your Heroes’ award.

Talking about their extraordinary experience in April 2017 was Coolock native Kevin Doyle who fell from a height of 20ft while sightseeing in Bratislava, Slovakia on a work trip.

The 33-year-old landed on his back and when he eventually came round he couldn’t move his legs or arms.

He lay there for two days without food or water and called for help while he was coming in an out of consciousness.

READ MORE: Parents urged to clean their babys teeth from first day they emerge

Thankfully, he was discovered by a passerby on day three and spent two weeks in hospital in Bratislava undergoing surgery.

He told Dublin Live: “I think I just misjudged a step and I fell off a ledge. I just happened to be found by a man walking his dog.

“I fell straight on my back and it was a complete break of my spin. The only logic I had was to sleep at night and try and shout out as much as possible during the day.

“My body was in shock so I never actually felt in pain until after the surgery.”

Keith seems very positive about his condition, although doctors say its highly unlikely he will ever walk again. But he says his positivity comes from logic and his desire to live: “It’s the necessity of it really, like there’s no alternative. You have to get up and do it.”

After Keith’s accident he was flown home where he spent many weeks in Beaumont Hospital’s Richmond Ward and with the help of physiotherapist, Cathy Keating.

Cathy said it was a pleasure to work with Keith and said his attitude toward was fantastic: “I felt like he had already decided in his head that he was going to work really hard. He through himself into it from the start.”

Keith has nominated Cathy to receive an Honour Your Heroes Award for helping him in his recovery.

Among the other nominees is Nurse Nicola Mahon who was nominated by cancer patient Deirdre Sanda from Malahide.

In 2014, Deirdre was diagnosed with Myeloma – cancer of the white blood cells which required a long treatment process which required a stem cell transplant and the reintroduction of cancer free cells into her body.

Throughout her battle with the disease, Deirdre said Nicola had been such a huge support: “She’s incredible, she’s so busy and she dedicates her time to everyone and made me feel at ease throughout my treatment. She lights up the place.”

Nicola, who has been working in the Coleman K Byrne’s unit in Beaumont for six years says it is a touch job at times, but it’s wonderful to work with patients like Deirdre: “The treatment she’s on now is very intense and it’s amazing what she’s gone through, she’s such a fighter. It’s great to look after her.”

Other nominees included Nurse Deirdre Twomey who was nominated by kidnay transplant patient, Patricia Fitzpatrick from Letterkenny, Co Donegal and Clinical Nurse Manager, Monica Cunningham nominated by open heart surgery patient, Mary Flynn.

ENT consultant Mr Peter Walshe was nominated by Benjamin De Queiroz Carneiro, 11, and his family from Finglas after he successfully underwent the hospital’s Cochlear Implant Programme.

Consultant Anaesthetist, Mr James O’Rourke was nominated by brain tumour patient, John Kelly from Tipperary who spent almost two years in Beaumont Hospital.

Thanking Denise Andrews and the staff of St Raphael’s Ward was Tiernan O’Sullivan, 11, Mallow, Co Cork who was born with Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus and he required the insertion of a shunt to drain excess fluid from his brain in January 2017.

Lorcan Kelly, an avid traveller from Drumcondra, suffered a stroke on Stephen’s Day in 2016 and also required the removal of rectal tumour.

He is thanking Maura Hoey and the other Ward Rehab Assistants on Hamilton Ward.

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Beaumont patients pay tribute to heroic hospital staff – Dublin Live

Amanda Grappone Osmer breaks down car sales stereotypes with focus on kindness, integrity – The Keene Sentinel

In 2014, during a speech in Manchester, Amanda Grappone Osmer made a startling admission.

I know why you hate me, she began, when it came her time to speak at TEDx Amoskeag Millyard. You all have memories of someone like me that takes you back to a time and place that you wish you didnt have to think about.

Your palms start to sweat. Your stomach is in a knot. Like me, your heart races. You just have an overall feeling of dread.

Mentally, you start to make a tally when you see me coming of all the ways you might get ripped off.

She describes further this experience with her at its center.

When you see me, you load up for bear. Because you know you need to, just to get through our conversation, she says.

You hate me because I am a car salesman. A fourth-generation car salesman.

And with a deep breath, she adds, I understand.

Osmers speech spoke to a stereotypical experience someone might have purchasing a car, an experience that she likened to being under the ether and one that her companys philosophy seeks to counter. Her personal mission and that of Grappone Automotive Group in Bow, for which she is CEO, moves well past the showroom to all aspects of the business, employee relationships and the manner in which she leads an engaged community life.

The business mission: Dedication to building lifelong relationships with our team members, guests and community by serving with integrity, kindness and respect.

And ingrained among her personal objectives is being a little bit better than the day before.

Osmer, the keynote speaker for The Keene Sentinels Extraordinary Women Awards on Aug. 24, graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in humanities. In her teens, she worked at her familys dealership, which was started by her great-grandparents in Concord in 1924 as a Gulf service station. It is now five dealerships. But, despite her early work at the dealership, Osmer didnt envision a future for herself in the cars.

In 2001, after school and marriage, she moved to the West Coast, to the North Bay region of San Francisco. Her marriage ended after a short time, leaving her uncertain what to do next. She applied for all sorts of jobs with no luck, she says. Needing something and knowing something about cars, she found herself selling for Lexus of Marin.

I had never sold anything in my life, she says from her second-floor office at Grappones Toyota franchise, not far from the end of Interstate 89. Her notion of sales, she says, was all wrong, and she learned, You have to be nice to people and honest, and you will earn their business.

Three years later, she was back at her family dealership, in charge of fixed operations service, paint and collision. She described this as the hardest job of my life.

It was difficult to find technicians who met company standards, and there were myriad other workforce challenges, not the least of which is that few women run collision and service centers.

I knew nothing about that world, she recalls. It was constant stress.

But it was in this role that she discovered new ways of doing things that would change her and the company she would come to run. She found a mentor in Jeffrey Liker, the author of The Toyota Way, a best-seller at more than 650,000 copies and translated into 27 languages.

Liker, with whom Osmer corresponds, is professor of industrial and operations engineering at the University of Michigan and has written extensively about how Toyotas manufacturing processes employed principles to reduce waste, boost efficiency and create collaborative workforces to solve problems. He has also profiled other companies using these strategies and measurements, first pioneered by W. Edwards Deming in post-World War II Japan.

I fell in love with lean manufacturing, says Osmer, referring to the umbrella term under which these principles exist.

She opens Likers book frequently; her copy is dog-eared, heavily highlighted and fingerprinted and never far from reach. There are, in the lean world, seven categories of waste transport, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction, over-processing and defects.

Osmer considers it one of her lifes highlights being invited to speak at the headquarters of Dupont in Delaware at a gathering of collision center specialists a conference at which Liker was speaking, too.

Shes asked if Grappone is an efficient operation.

Its a goal, she says candidly, referring to a never-ending focus on continuous improvement.

From the service operation, Osmer was promoted to COO and director of sales. The sales process was going through a similar evolution, she says.

We had peeled away from the current (traditional) way of doing things, she says, referring to the industry standard of commission-based selling. We had to figure out what is our way I really started to notice that we didnt have anyone recognizing the human experience.

The company hired a director of corporate potential a key decision and embarked on strategic planning that led to an unusual, if not dramatically different approach to business. Its primary commitment, she says, is to Grappones 340 employees. They come first in the mission statement by design. Second, the company seeks lifelong relationships with customers and believes this is best achievable if the sales and service experience is not one of negotiation. This, she says, creates integrity and expectations of consistent treatment. Theres a set price for everything, including financing terms. Everyone pays the same, removing the ether to which she referred in her TEDx speech.

Her sales team does not operate on commissions.

It didnt make sense to race to the bottom on pricing, she says.

Having Toyota as a flagship franchise was helpful; expectations of franchises are reasonable, she says, allowing room for Grappones way.

Always trying to be less wasteful as a company, Osmer said an eighth measure of waste also became a Grappone focus the waste of human creativity. Maybe more than any of the other principles, Osmer emphasizes a workplace that allows innovation to occur. As she describes ways this has been manifested, Ron Malachi, the companys inventory pricing specialist, walks by her office.

He ducks in when asked and rattles off several recent problems a team of folks has solved, including storing extra car inventory at a nearby indoor sports facility.

They get some income, and we get a place (to keep the cars), he says.

Osmer is one of five children born to Robert and Beverly Grappone. Her younger brother, Greg, was her only sibling to be part of the business, eventually becoming the groups chief information officer.

Greg, who had health challenges early in his life, developed cutaneous T-cell lymphoma in his 30s. He found he needed a blood stem cell transplant when the disease turned aggressive.

Osmer was a match for the transplant. Treatment involved eradicating Gregs immune system and injecting new stem cells through a transfusion of Osmers blood. The cancer was killed, but a gruesome side effect graft versus host disease took hold. Osmer described the horrific condition that transpired as one that literally hardened his tissues.

Greg died in 2015, leaving behind a wife and a two-year-old daughter.

In his name, Osmer works on a project that would develop a six-mile abandoned rail line into a new bike and walking path that connects to the Northern Rail trail and would link Concord to Lebanon. It is but one page in her deep portfolio of community work.

She says this involvement in social causes is informed by her familys work.

We were always taught its not about us, she says. Dad just didnt get hung up on material things. I dont get upset when I dont have more things. Its better to express me through how much I help people.

She sees herself as dedicated to serving a lot of people, and it starts with the employees, as the mission suggests.

People need to feel safe; psychological safety, physical safety and having flexibility, she says, describing how the company culture is modeled.

In such an environment, creativity is unleashed, efficiencies are found and people are retained. That environment includes an immaculate, welcoming Toyota dealership building that features a grand piano on its second floor a gift to Osmer from her grandfather.

So, its not a surprise that her team of six directors has more than 140 years of collective service to Grappone.

Away from the dealership, Osmers list of community-service positions is extensive and includes: board member, New Hampshire Public Broadcasting System; corporator, Canterbury Shaker Village; board member, The Endowment for Health; member, Partners for Community Wellness; member, New Hampshire Lemon Law Board; advisory member, Spark New Hampshire; advisory member, Stay Work Play New Hampshire; and advisory member, New Hampshire Charitable Foundations New Hampshire Tomorrow Initiative.

Recently, she became involved in President Donald Birx move to reorganize Plymouth State University into seven educational clusters, beginning this fall. They are: arts and technology; education, democracy and social change; exploration and discovery; health and human enrichment; innovation and entrepreneurship; justice and security; and tourism, environment and sustainable development.

I try to go where I can be most useful, she says, adding she prefers, in many cases, serving one term on a board rather than more to allow broader service.

Osmer lives with her husband, Tom, and three children (two girls and a boy) in a log home in Canterbury. The community, known for its Shaker history, suits her in many ways, from the caring she can expect from the Canterbury Library staff if she drops her son off some afternoon, to the wooded setting that allows her to indulge in trail running, to the neighborly warmth of the Canterbury Fair, recently held.

And, its just the right setting to play her banjo, her instrument of choice.

Osmers is a life being well lived and one seemingly grounded in the words she used to finish her TEDx speech.

So, this is not just about car sales. Its not just about a fourth-generation family business in Bow Junction, New Hampshire, she says. Ask yourselves. Do integrity, kindness and respect form the foundation of all of your relationships, with the people you love the most, with the people you work with, with the people you meet every day? Do they?

If they dont, dont worry about it, she says. Just know that you are under the ether with all of the rest of us. And its time to wake up.

Originally posted here:
Amanda Grappone Osmer breaks down car sales stereotypes with focus on kindness, integrity – The Keene Sentinel