VIA BONA SLOVAKIA 2020

A company shows that disabled people and seniors can have fulfilling lives

Ares received the Via Bona award for Responsible Small/Middle-Sized Company.

Ares produces several devices to help the disabled. Ares produces several devices to help the disabled. (Source: Courtesy of Ares)

Disabled people and seniors face daily obstacles when going to the bathroom or the doctor’s, work or school.

To make their lives easier, the company Ares has come up with several barrier-free solutions. Its motto is straightforward: to help remove obstacles.

“Through our products and services, we equalise the opportunities for disabled people and seniors in their everyday life,” said Jana Hačundová, the daughter of the company’s founder Ján Drobný, who is disabled himself.

The Pontis Foundation granted the company the Via Bona Slovakia award for a Responsible Small/Middle-Sized Company.

It started with magazines

Ares, founded in 1993 by Drobný, started out as a distributor of children’s magazines.

“As we had been employing the disabled from the very beginning, we gradually started broadening our business by removing barriers, supplying and producing aids for the disabled,” said Hačundová.

The aids were to help people both inside and outside their homes.

Gradually, the company started working on modifications for cars for the disabled and assisted in applying for state financial contributions on devices. Their staff contributed their ideas too. In 2013, the top Czech producer of lifting devices for severely disabled people, Altech, joined the business.

The company currently offers stair platforms, stair climbers, car ramps and other helpful devices.

It also produces special atypical lifts seen across the country.

A sheltered workshop

Ares created a sheltered workshop back in 1997.

“Both disabled and non-disabled people work there,” said Hačundová, adding they were able to keep their staff even in the crisis years of 2009-2012.

The company has some 30 employees, with five disabled workers working in the sheltered workshop. Moreover, one disabled employee works as an accountant and another as a lawyer. Ares invests its profit in innovations, the education of employees and spreading awareness.

“We think awareness is weak in this sphere,” Hačundová noted. The company is now building a small centre in the village of Kováčová in central Slovakia where it wants to show that disabled people can have fulfilling lives.

Pandemic brought changes

Like many others, Ares had to deal with the consequences of the pandemic, but Covid-19 did not affect its primary business.

“It impacted mostly our way of work,” Hačudová said. “We found gaps in our communication and representation. We used technologies more than personal meetings.”

At the same time, the company changed the way it spreads awareness, using mostly presentations and exhibitions. It had to stop team building and other group activities too.

“In our secondary business, the pandemic affected the distribution of children’s magazines to primary and secondary schools that had to be closed,” Hačundová said.

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