Big Shoes to Fill

Photo of Seth Kanor

It’s been six months since Enabling Devices CEO, Seth Kanor stepped in to take the reins from his late father, Steven E. Kanor, Ph.D., the company’s founder and president. Speaking from the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, N.Y., Kanor took time out from his busy schedule to share some thoughts about his dad, the people who make Enabling Devices run, what he’s learned so far, his aspirations for the company and the people it serves.

What has your new role taught you about your father?

The longer I’ve been at Enabling Devices, the more convinced I am that my father should be nominated for sainthood. I get calls all the time from people who say, “Your dad changed my life.” He was always asking: “How do we get to the people who need our services?”  “How do we improve people’s lives and meet them where they are?” “How do we make it easier for them to get out into the world and help them to find joy?” Everything we do is geared toward answering those questions.

What have you learned about the business?

The people who work here probably have a body of knowledge that couldn’t be replicated in a Ph.D. program. They have been hands-on with our products, customers and business for so long.

Like many people, I always thought that I needed to do something original— something different than what my father did. Now, I see that I am supposed to continue his mission and use my abilities to bring out the talents in others. My role is basically, to facilitate everything so that the people here, who are so knowledgeable and talented, can do what they do so well.
Additionally, I’ve discovered that there is a huge group of people in this country who work one-on-one with children with severe disabilities. This is pretty much the hardest work one can do and they don’t make a great deal of money. It’s a real calling, and I feel so grateful for them.

What is your favorite part of your new role?

It is such a privilege to know that we are making a difference in the lives of the people who use our products. Sometimes people call us looking for a solution to their loved one’s problem and we are their last chance. Being able to help in those instances is so special. When my father was running the business, if a customer called with a problem, he’d invite them into the office.  He’d say, “Come in now, we’ll fix it.” The first time someone called me with a special request, the person apologized.  I said, “Please don’t apologize. I’ve been waiting for this call. It’s an honor to take your call.”

The people I am meeting in my new role are changing my life and my understanding of what matters. Are we going to live in a society that is exclusive or inclusive? In my view, we need to work toward a world that is more inclusive. There’s no question that our customers are giving me more than I am giving them.

 

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