‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and other old adages

Monday, March 31, 2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Think of the familiar inventory of sayings about beginning a new venture. The longest journey begins with a single step. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Or: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Add to that “We’ll see where it goes,” courtesy of Joel Holland, who received his first oxygen referral Feb. 18. A modest start, to be sure, but don’t think Holland’s content counting his population of oxygen patients on one finger. He’s shooting for 100 over the next two years.

When it comes to the home respiratory biz, the owner of Holland Medical, a $3 million HME with locations in Nashville, Chattanooga and Kingsport, wasn’t born yesterday.

He had a stable of about 15 oxygen patients six years ago. Then his rehab business went nuts (spurred by two competitors leaving the market), leaping from $750,000 to $2 million in one year and then to $2.5 million the next.

“It was every thing we could do to handle that,” said Holland. “We could not make the full-blown commitment to respiratory and transitioned them to other providers. Now that we are settled and comfortable with rehab, we are going back into respiratory.”

When it comes to rebuilding his respiratory business, Holland, you might say, is taking it one step at a time.

He plans to begin by offering stationary and portable oxygen, and will most likely add CPAPs and biPAP CPAPs. He’ll grow the business by marketing to existing referral sources, and doesn’t plan to hire an RT before the business can support it.

“There’s an old adage that says you don’t get into rehab to make money,” said Holland. “You get into it because you enjoy doing what you do. We’ll never turn the margins Lincare does because we are staying in rehab. But now that we’ve mastered rehab, we can go into areas that are more lucrative, possibly make inroads and increase our profitability.” HME