Company: Special Needs Group, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Company Description: Special Needs Group is the leading global provider for special needs travel. Founded in 2007, the company is recommended by the world's major cruise lines, hotels and travel agents for superior service and value. They also garnered international recognition including accessibility preferred partner of Cruise Line International Association and Seatrade Insider’s Onboard Supplier of the Year.
Nomination Category: Company / Organization Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year - Up to 100 Employees
Nomination Title: Special Needs Group, Inc.
1. Tell the story about what this nominated company achieved since January 1 2009 (up to 500 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:
As strong advocates for the disabled, Special Needs Group helps thousands of
individuals each year enjoy barrier-free travel.
How vital is this corporate/philanthropic mission?
One in seven persons in the U.S. has some form of disability; one in five
families is touched. And whether for vacation, business or to attend special
events, these individuals- and their families– want and need to travel.
Special Needs Group is an essential resource for providing wheelchairs,
motorized scooters, power chairs, oxygen equipment, patient lifts, bed & bath
safety equipment, hospital beds and other special needs aides for persons with
The company delivers directly to cruise ships, hotels, resorts, convention
centers and other venues worldwide. Services are customized, and everyone can
be accommodated, from infants to individuals weighing over 500 pounds.
Founded in 2007, Special Needs Group works to raise awareness of special needs
travel through newsletters, webinars, blogs, social media tools, panel
discussions and presentations. The company is a sponsor and speaker for Society
for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (SATH) and works closely with the travel
community to educate travel professionals about the special needs traveler and
sensitivity issues. The company also distributes information to consumers
addressing specific issues of special needs travel such as traveling with
oxygen or finding the right vacation product.
An aging population is increasing the demand for special needs equipment, and
the company grew by 50 percent in 2009, zooming from a virtually unknown
company to a category leader. In just three years, Special Needs Group now has
the ability to assist persons in 55 cities in 20 countries around the world.
In 2009, Special Needs Group was named the first (and currently only)
Accessibility Preferred Partner for Cruise Line International Association
(CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry organization.
Founder and CEO, Andrew Garnett, is an active member of CLIA’s Expanded Access
Working Group consisting of senior cruise executives and Executive Partners
assisting CLIA in developing industry commentary and recommendations to the
rulemaking process for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The company
advises cruise lines on accessibility issues such as design of ship features,
specifications for wheelchairs and scooters allowed on ships and specifications
for boarding ramps.
Looking to make embarking and disembarking a cruise vessel even easier for
persons with mobility limitations, in 2009 Special Needs Group implemented a
test pilot program for pier side kiosks at two busy ports: Port Everglades,
Florida and the Port of Seattle. The kiosks enable travelers to pick up
mobility aides pier side in order to board the ship independently as opposed to
the equipment being delivered to staterooms and passengers waiting to be helped
To help the cruise lines better service their special needs passengers onboard,
Special Needs Group created an onboard wheelchair rental program for lines,
transforming an expense item to the profit line.
The company was honored as the 2009 Onboard Supplier of the Year by Seatrade
Insider, one of the most prestigious publications in the cruise travel industry.
2. List hyperlinks to any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that support the claims made in the section above. IMPORTANT: Begin each link with http://, and enclose each link in square brackets; for example, [http://www.youraddress.com]:
3. Provide a brief (up to 100 words) biography about the leader of this nominated company:
Andrew J. Garnett, founder, president and CEO of Special Needs Group, has over
ten years of experience in the Special Needs industry. As an advocate,
educator, consultant and service provider, Andrew’s vision and expertise have
driven notable growth in the Special Needs and Travel Industries.
Since Special Needs Group’s inception in 2007, Andrew has enabled thousands of
individuals to enjoy travel that would not have been able to otherwise do so.
With his vision to ‘dissolve travel barriers’ and strong business acumen,
Special Needs Group quickly became the category leader. Andrew holds an
economics degree from the University of Florida.