The story behind Pediatric Therapy Partners is truly a testament to the fact that, when people come together to collaborate as a team, amazing things can happen. Stephen Olson, Brian Borchardt, and Janette Venaas-Gilbraith were all colleagues at MeritCare in Fargo, ND for many years prior to becoming business partners. After years of working together, all three of them decided to branch out and pursue their own specialties in the independent medical world—Stephen working as a occupational therapist, Janette as a speech-language pathologist, and Brian as an physical therapist. All three of them worked independently out of their cars and visited their patients at their homes. It wasn’t until 2005 that they had the idea to come together and combine their wealth of knowledge and experience into one company. Because they already had a general partnership among each other, they decided to pursue the idea and opened Pediatric Therapy Partners in 2007. Together, they were able to offer therapy services such as occupational, physical, and speech-language to children throughout the Fargo community.
“We had three separate practices individually that we were working together a lot on with kids and so we decided to come together and form Pediatric Therapy Partners just because it was easier for parents and it was easier to provide those services under one roof.”
In 2010, after a few years of working together, Stephen, Brian, and Janette decided it was time to expand their practice and facility to provide higher quality services to their increasing number of patients and staff. After going around and looking at different clinics, the three partners had a vision for their new, bigger, better, and more accommodating facility that would allow them to serve a larger part of the region outside of the Fargo community and provide them with the space that they needed to better provide for their patients. All they needed were the financial resources to do so. This is where Dakota Business Lending came into play. “We sought out Dakota Business Lending and their programs because of the funding that allowed a smaller group like us to get into a building that would be appropriate and have the funds that allow us to continue to grow our practice.” They supplied Pediatric Therapy Partners with a SBA 504 loan to meet their needs.
“The SBA 504 loan program allowed us to get into our building with a much lower percentage down and put those funds towards building our practice rather than just putting them into the building itself…”
This expansion was such a success that their business continued to grow and grow! So much to point that they reached out to Dakota Business Lending to utilized the 504 loan program again in 2014, and once more in 2017, doubling the size of their existing building and then adding new services for mental and behavioral health in a separate facility. “We’ve worked with Dakota Business Lending three times now and each time we work with them, they’ve done a great job. They made sure that I knew what I needed and if I had any questions, I was able to talk directly to them. We were very happy working with them.”
“It’s been a fast ride from 2005 to now. From working out of our cars and being sole therapists to growing to over 100 employees in a state of the art facility. It’s been crazy, but it’s been fun,” Stephen reminisced with a smile.
Pediatric Therapy Partners prides itself in the fact that they are able to provide so many services under one roof. Their original vision was simply to come together to offer multiple disciplines, but they feel like they have far exceeded that.
Since the addition of their new mental health and behavior health services, they have been able to rise to their top in the industry, continue to expand their equipment and services, as well as maintain their current clients.
“It would have been much harder to do this without the 504 program that Dakota Business Lending had,” added Stephen. “We would have had to slow down some of our growth because we wouldn’t have been able to put as much funding into our growth and save a lot more money to purchase the building.”
Overall, they saw it as a win-win for their patients and for them. Stephen loves his job and every minute of the journey he has had in starting this new business. His favorite part is the direct influence that he has and the ability to affect things in a positive way. “I love coming to work every day, coming up with new and better ways to serve our clients, starting new services, starting new providers, and figuring out how that happens…those are all exciting things to me!”
In terms of advice for those looking to start or expand their own business, Stephen had just one main piece to offer: keep the people that you are serving at the top of your mind. “Understand what you’re doing, what service you’re providing, and how that impacts the people you’re providing it for. Always keep that person in mind and never forget that, at the end of the day, what you’re doing is for them.” He went on to explain that that is the basis on which they make all of their financial decisions: by asking themselves how this decision will affect those individuals in which they are working to service. This, Stephen believes, is the key to a successful business.