J&L: 'We knew we had the ability ... the drive to do it'
WATERBURY, Conn. — After working together for more than 17 years in the healthcare field, John Loyer and Lynn Tata decided it was time to start their own home medical equipment company. So in March 2003 that’s what the two respiratory therapists did, forming J&L Medical Services.
“We knew we had the ability, we knew we had the drive to do it,” Loyer said. “We put our heads together and put our talents together.”
Earlier this year, the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce Small Business Council gave an official stamp of approval to the duo’s venture by naming J&L Entrepreneur of the Year. Nominations came from the chamber’s membership of about 1,100 business owners.
Going by the numbers, it’s easy to see why J&L earned the lofty distinction.
“We have exceeded most of our goals by 250 to 300%,” Loyer said.
In two years, the company’s staff has grown from three to 24; they’re bursting at the seams of their 4,000-square-foot warehouse space and recently rented another 600 square feet; they offer employees many benefits, including educational scholarships; they donate funds and resources to community groups.
A combination of business acumen and demonstrated commitment to their employees and the community earned J&L Medical Services the award, said Natalie Lawlor, vice-president of marketing and business development at the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“As soon as they established their business and joined the chamber, they became extremely active and very visible,” Lawlor said. “They were able to meet and network and grow their business and give back at the same time.”
Prior to starting J&L,Tata and Loyer worked together as respiratory therapists for 13 years in the same Waterbury hospital. As their careers evolved, Loyer became focused on hospital management, Tata on home care and sales.
They eventually ended up working together at the same home care company.
At mid-life, the longtime colleagues decided that the time was right to make the leap into owning their own business.
Theirs is a natural division of labor: “John runs the operation inside and I’m on the outside,” Tata said. It’s a formula that has brought them more success than they imagined.
J&L’s achievements are notable in a market that is “saturated” with similar businesses, Loyer said. He points to several factors for their success. First, they have extensive knowledge of the industry. Both participate in professional associations and stay on top of industry news and events. They consider educating patients and referral sources part of their mission.
“Instead of just setting up oxygen, we do a lot of education,” Loyer said. Staff works one-on-one with clients as needed. J&L’s Web site includes a newsletter that focuses on health issues. They participate with local better breathing and obstructive sleep apnea support groups around the state.
Additionally, Tata said, because they are a new company, she and Loyer were able to enter the field with state-of the-art equipment, which helps them reduce costs by operating more efficiently.
Another measure that's helped them succeed is diversifying their service line and their payer base.
Both are thrilled with the recognition they have received from their community as “Entrepreneur of the Year.”
“We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Loyer said.