Plaza Park Bank - Case Study: Great Steps Orthotics and Prosthetics

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1 Plaza Park Bank - Case Study: Great Steps Orthotics and Prosthetics John and Kristie Held are the owners of Great Steps Orthotics and Prosthetics. Before John graduated college in 1987, he knew that he wanted to work in the medical field and yet he also knew he wanted to find a niche that would allow him to work with his hands. The field of orthotics and prosthetics allowed him both. After gaining experience in both the clinical and manufacturing sectors of the industry, it was clear that to practice his ideas regarding patient care and personal relationships he would need to take a leap of faith and start his own company. Owning a business and succeeding in the field comes with some unique challenges that must be faced with the largest being new health care regulations, increased documentation requirements and decreasing reimbursements that have driven up the cost of doing business. As the business was formed and now as it continues to grow, John and Kristie are benefitting from an early business decision they made. They chose to partner with Plaza Park Bank and together they find ways to face the challenges and overcome the barriers to further their great success. About Great Steps Orthotics and Prosthetics John s desire was to help his patients and improve their lives, and do it by practicing a specialized craft. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in biology, he went on to complete the Orthotic Practitioner program at Century College in White Bear Lake, MN. He went on to work in a small North Dakota clinic as their only orthotic practitioner. John truly believed that iron sharpens iron, and by working closely with other orthotic practitioners would help him hone his craft. John and Kristie left North Dakota and moved to St. Cloud MN to have that opportunity. He began working as a practitioner for an orthotics and prosthetic company, and soon realized that his vision for relationships with patients, and the level of care he believed should be provided to them was not possible working for a large publically traded corporation. John and several other fellow practitioners often discussed leaving the company to begin their own clinic, but it was a leap of faith that John alone decided was worth taking. Over the years, many of those other practitioners have come to work for John and Kristie at Great Steps. John found business ownership suited him very well. He states, I can make a decision one day and implement it the next! Kristie also very much enjoys owning the business and says proudly that we are only as good as our team! Our staff are one of our clients. Kristie especially enjoys taking care of the staff and ensuring that teamwork is at its highest level. This focus on teamwork and enhanced patient care has proven to be very successful. Outreach relationships with physical therapy and general health care clinics across Minnesota have allowed them to cover approximately 25,000 square miles while only occupying one brick & mortar building (in Sartell, MN). They employ clinicians who travel regularly to areas including Fergus Falls, Onamia, Montevideo, Redwood Falls, and Plymouth. Focus on Exceptional Care

2 Since the very beginning, John has had a passion for serving his patients and believed true success came from those relationships. John says, No one comes here because they have nothing better to do; everyone has a problem and we love helping them solve it. Everyone is special and every story makes an impact on someone s life. John shares a couple examples that show what success truly means to him. A little girl, unable to walk had been passed along through many different practitioners. Understandably, when they came to Great Steps, the girl s mother was skeptical and anxious. They had been through so much, but Great Steps was able to provide the girl with the properly designed orthosis which enabled the proper treatment. When the girl took those first amazing steps across the lobby floor, the girl s mom was not the only person whose tears began to fall. A patient suffering from extreme foot and ankle pain was unable to enjoy a full and active lifestyle. Aware that amputation was a possibility, he was afraid. Losing his foot was not something he wanted, but he also realized how greatly his quality of life was suffering. Great Steps has two clinicians who are amputees themselves, and they have the ability to empathize with patients facing such a loss. The patient visited with one of these clinicians, and together they discussed the options and reviewed the processes. The patient ultimately chose amputation as his best option. He underwent an amputation and was fitted with a prosthesis. They realized they were successful when a friend of this patient told Kristie, It s like he has his life back! For the first time in many years, he has hope again! Great Steps Orthotics and Prosthetics was carefully planned to be a full-service clinic and offer customized and personal service. Clinicians are there to help care for the patients, design and fit proper orthoses and prostheses and help them understand the process. The story of these patients are a great example of how valuable these individuals are to the patient. Technicians are also employed and it is they who skillfully produce the orthoses and prostheses. By joining the two and providing both services inhouse, it allows Great Steps the unique opportunity to serve in ways that achieve the best and most timely outcomes. The work they do is life-changing and their patients leave their office with a new lease on life. Great Steps finds working with amputees extremely rewarding. Some suffer from severe diabetes and other diseases leading to amputation. They also serve victims of trauma. They proudly provide care to soldiers who have incurred limb loss through their service to our country. Children born with birth defects and other ailments are also patients. Partnering With Plaza Park Bank

3 John and Kristie hoped to finance the initial tenant build out on their own, however they came to realize that they would need additional financing. John was referred to Tom Eickhoff at Plaza Park Bank and found more than they expected. John explains the experience; My banker at a larger bank in town looked at what we re doing and said, you re so far out of the ball park, you can t even see the stadium. The next day I met with Tom Eickhoff: he listened, he asked good questions, he shook my hand and looked me in the eye and told me that Plaza Park Bank would help work something out. Great Steps has been a valued customer since The relationship began with a small SBA operating loan in the amount of $40,000. Following that initial loan, John and Kristie began working closely with business lender Jim Schleper. Their SBA loan was refinanced and an operating line of credit was established. Jim shares some insight on his relationship with John and Kristie and their business. He is impressed by The way they work together; the importance they put on their client relationships as well as their relationships with their employees and referral sources. Honesty and integrity play a big part in the way they run their business. They re real! This is how John and Kristie explained in unison the reason Plaza Park Bank is different from other banks. Kristie continued by saying, they are never fake or scripted; plus they know us by name and care about our family and our business. They share our values and ethics and we love having them as part of our team. We see Jim as a business mentor and we can tell the entire Plaza Park staff love their jobs. John also added that, You just get this feeling like we re all in this together. It s a different kind of relationship than you d normally get at a bank. Jim is also excited about working with them on their future plans for growth, and has similar sentiments about the couple and the working relationship he has with them. I feel the working relationship is very open and honest which makes for a very comfortable relationship. Jim sums things up by saying, I feel they are a perfect example of the type of clients that benefit most from a local community bank like ours, with the local ties to the community, local decision making, and the type of relationship that can be developed. Their Challenges Health care is ever changing and with the recent changes come many new regulations and requirements. Increased documentation and decreasing medical reimbursements have hampered their profits. John and Kristie want to provide their staff with the same level of care and concern they provide their clients. They say, Our staff are our best asset, and we want to take great care of them; however, the increase in rules and regulations have lowered our profitability and slowed our ability to share profit with staff. These regulations and requirements have also affected their overall growth. To manage the paperwork, they have had to invest in additional office staff instead of new technology and additional clinicians for outreach. To overcome these challenges they explain, We re watching similar industries like hospitals, primary care clinics and physical therapy clinics, which are just a few years ahead of us on this regulation path. We re part a national orthotic and prosthetic leadership team and we are reviewing and

4 learning best practices and we are bringing that information back to central Minnesota. We strive to achieve the new normal ahead of the curve and be proactive instead of reactive so that we can continue to grow and serve more patients. Their relationship with Jim and Plaza Park Bank has also helped them to face these challenges. The company continues to grow and advance over the years, and John and Kristie are the first to say so. Over the years, Jim and Plaza Park Bank have enthusiastically helped them to seize many amazing opportunities. One example of this was their use of financing to purchase their pediatric cranial scanner. When an infant is born and their head is misshapen, an orthosis can be used in a process called cranial reshaping. The baby would have to have a cast taken of their head to properly create the orthosis. However, babies and also their parents did not enjoy the time consuming and messy process. Simply put, John and Kristie say Babies hate having their heads cast. Advances in scanning technology provide a solution. A pediatric cranial scanner provides accurate head shape data through digital scanning, eliminating the need for a cast. The technology provides a quantum leap in the technology used in the orthotic and prosthetic field. Great Steps practitioners have made full use of the scanner and have even used it to fabricate spinal and leg braces as well. Like most technological advancements, a financial leap is required to make use of it. Plaza Park Bank provided Great Steps with the financing needed, and the company is now able to provide it to their clients. It reduces anxiety for the parents and discomfort for the babies, and is another way that Great Steps strives to provide the ultimate in care. Financing is not the only service Plaza Park Bank provides Great Steps. Kristie uses the Bill Pay service and says It saves time and money! We pay all of our bills through Online Bill Pay. I can t even tell you how much money we save on postage! Her favorite service however is Remote Deposit. There are many days I just can t get away from the office, so even though PPB is only down the street from us, we really appreciate the convenience of depositing our checks from my desk. Plus, when it s -40 degrees, I REALLY love this service! Plaza Park Bank Helps Them Grow Plaza Park Bank is honored to partner with John and Kristie, and with them look toward the future. Plaza Park Bank is dedicated to John and Kristie s success, and truly cares about making a difference and helping to overcome the challenges they face. By providing financing for technology and all their other needs, Great Steps is able to enhance their services, reach more clients, and expand into new markets. This ability allows them growth to offset the expenses they face from increased regulation and the many changes in health care. They are also able to take advantage of our many services such as Bill Pay and Remote Deposit to be more efficient and productive. John and Kristie have big plans for Great Steps. They are excited that the profession is evolving and practitioners are now required to have Master s degrees. Also, they are gratified to see a change from being viewed as only vendors to integral parts of the care

5 team. They look forward to their son Nick joining the business. Nick is following his father s footsteps and has started his Master s program at Century College. The continuing advances in technology that help their patients improve functionality position them for great success as the business continues. Also, John and Kristie look forward to a settling down of the many changes in healthcare so they can focus on their new normal. Most of all, they are enthusiastic about continued growth, allowing them to provide their personal brand of service to more individuals and continue to care of their employees with higher levels of benefits such as increased profit sharing. When John and Kristie sum it all up, they state that We are actively going to expand, and we know Plaza Park Bank will be there to help! Plaza Park Bank has been helping the Central Minnesota community since We are passionate about continuing our tradition of providing personal service from our experienced and caring family of banking professionals. Our bank is family owned and operated and we truly believe that we must develop relationships with those who bank with us. Our core values include a team focused strategy that ensures with Plaza Park Bank, you can expect the very best. We understand that you have questions and look forward to answering them to meet all your business lending and banking needs. Description: Plaza Park Bank helps small businesses meet their challenges and enjoy continued growth.

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