Tell me about your business: age of company, products/services, geography and types of customers served, etc.,
I’m a bit reluctant to be completing this profile as our business has been only modestly successful. Yes, we’ve grown steadily through our 18+ years and the business has met my financial needs and those of my family, including enabling my wife to be a stay at home mom, but so many other businesses have grown so much faster and larger. I don’t want to come across as professing to be an expert or model because someone else given the opportunities with which I have been presented would likely have achieved much more.
This said, I am proud of our modest business and the services we provide.
Our company helps seniors to maximize their independence and quality of life at home by providing simple and cost effective home safety modifications. Our services include installing grab bars (and other safety items to support safe bathing and toileting), stair railings, wheelchair ramps and stair lifts. We are also expanding into providing shower conversions for folks needing a wheelchair accessible shower. We have worked with over 20,000 individuals of all income levels throughout the Bay Area and Northern California. About half of our clients are private pay and about half are funded by a third-party payer.
We make a tangible difference in the lives of our clients and their families every day. Typically, we are working with individuals in some sort of a health crisis. Whether recovering from a fall, stroke or surgical procedure or just experiencing a reduction in mobility from normal aging, our customers appreciate our practical insights, caring bedside manner and installation expertise and efficiency to make quick and affordable improvements in the safety and accessibility of their home.
How did you get started in this business? OR What made you decide to start your business in the first place?
With a Mechanical Engineering degree from Santa Clara University, in 1986 I began a career in industrial risk management progressing to become the Global Property Risk Manager at Hewlett-Packard Company obtaining my MBA from the University of San Francisco along the way. In 1994, my father had a major stroke requiring me to step in and make some simple modifications to his home in order to support his rehabilitation and independence. In doing so, I realized that I gained a lot of satisfaction by helping him out and that there were many seniors in desperate need of similar services. Hence, in 1997 I obtained my General Contractors License and made the leap from a secure corporate job to the wonderful world of small business.
What gives you the most satisfaction in running your own business?
We were one of the first companies in the country to focus exclusively in this niche of helping seniors maintain their independence at home. One of our greatest challenges has been increasing consumer awareness that a professional and qualified service such as ours actually exists as a resources to seniors in need of home safety modifications. The aging population, increased cost of healthcare and recognition that our services are proven to reduce total healthcare costs has led to the recognition of home modifications as a legitimate business segment. As such, we are transitioning from a time of minimal competition to a market with new players appearing every day. Although we still have tremendous opportunity and challenge before us, it is gratifying to see the space become legitimized.
How do you define success as a business owner?
I would define success as progressing towards your personal vision. Hence, taking the time to develop a meaningful personal vision is critically important. My personal vision is focused on the business enabling me to meet my goals and responsibilities as a husband and father. Although the business hasn’t grown as rapidly as I had anticipated, I do take pride that I am succeeding in having the time to “be there” and the financial resources to provide for my family.
If you had to do over again, what would you do and/or how would you do it?
It is wonderful to have complete ownership and control of the business, but not having a partner has definitely limited our growth.
What are some of the personal values that are very important to you?
Our primary company values are expertise, efficiency and care. If we are successful at delivering on these, than everything else seems to fall into place including revenue and profit. These are also the three primary ways we differentiate ourselves from our competitors. Personally, underlying these is the concept of integrity. I have conscientiously striven to have integrity in all of our interactions with our customers, employees, vendors and community partners. No individual job or contract is worth compromising our integrity as doing so would likely come back to bite us at some point. Plus, it is a whole lot easier to sleep at night knowing that we have treated everyone fairly.