Alaina Macia didn’t lose sight of the core product at MTM Inc. when looking for new opportunities

After realizing the difficulty health plans and government organizations had in arranging transportation services, Peg and Lynn Griswold were determined to develop a company that ensured people had access to health care.

Founded in 1995, their company, Medical Transportation Management Inc., quickly set industry standards. But after a career with Blue Cross Blue Shield and eight years running and growing MTM, the Griswolds were ready to retire.

In 2003 they chose to transition out of the business by bringing in Lynn’s daughter Alaina Macia to help run the company.

“I joined the company when it was around $30 to $40 million,” Macia says. “At that time, I focused in on every aspect of MTM from marketing to sales strategy to operations, financial review and technology.”

Over the course of two years, Macia got more responsibility and freedom to make decisions and in 2005 was promoted to president and CEO of the company.

“In the beginning, I was really focused on the marketing and sales process,” she says. “We had a good product, but I wanted to make sure people knew about MTM.”

MTM doesn’t own vehicles; rather, the company coordinates transportation that’s already available and manages it from a quality perspective. Over the years, Macia and her leadership team recognized opportunities to expand MTM’s service offerings. Leveraging its resources and experience, MTM adapted its management model, offering new products to help clients align incentives, reduce cost and increase customer satisfaction.

The demand for better transportation products and services was certainly prevalent, and with Macia at the helm MTM has grown to 1,000 employees in 28 states with annual revenue of $175 million.

Here’s how Macia is steering MTM with a focus on growth.

 

Become a better company

In the beginning of Macia’s tenure as CEO, she had to focus on making MTM better known by the company’s potential clients.

“I wanted to make sure people knew about MTM, knew that we were a potential vendor for their services nationwide and that we understood who our core clients are and where our growth is going to come from,” Macia says. “You have to make sure that you’re marketing to your target audience and that it’s a message they want to hear and that the person carrying that message is someone the client is going to listen to.”

After ensuring the company’s message was targeting the right clients, Macia turned her focus to MTM’s operations and technology.

“As you bring on more clients, you need to become more efficient and continue to lower your overhead and operating costs so that you can grow profitably and in a high-quality manner,” she says. “If you don’t, you’re going to have issues going from a small to midsized company.”

Once MTM got to a critical mass point, Macia had to turn her attention toward ensuring the right people were on the team.

“The people you start with may not be the same people you need at a higher level,” she says. “You really are only as good as your team and the people around you. You have to focus on bringing in talent and not just hiring to fill a seat, but finding that best person for that job and that culture.”

 

Manage new growth

Despite all the areas of the business Macia has been focused on over the years, her biggest challenge has remained managing the growth of MTM.

“We are a high-growth company, but we never want to grow and sacrifice the quality to our existing customers,” Macia says. “So we make sure we isolate those clients so it’s business-as-usual for them while we’re growing, implementing and staffing for new programs.

“Like a duck, we want to appear very smooth to all our clients even if we’re working very feverishly under the water.”

MTM has continued to grow in its core markets, but has been leveraging its capabilities to become more diverse.

“One of the things we’re focused on for growth is home and community-based services, and that’s all the services an individual needs to stay in the home as opposed to going into a nursing home or a long-term care institution,” she says. “Transportation is a big component if somebody’s going to stay in their home and still get to medical care, church, to see friends and have a social life.”

MTM is putting networks together to deliver home and community-based services, which are a big push under health care reform. However, those services aren’t the only ones Macia has her eyes on for expansion.

“We are also focused on moving into public transportation and school-based transportation and working with our managed care clients to provide additional services like ambulance management, claims management and customer service operations for them,” Macia says.

Growth in your core service offerings is one thing, but growing new offerings takes a lot more focus and attention.

“It’s really about prioritizing what you believe you can be successful in and what is going to generate return on investment so you can continue to invest in your services,” she says. “You need to realize what you can do effectively and make money as well. If you can’t make a profit then you’re going to diminish what you could have invested in your core product.”

When growing both your core service and a new offering you have to make sure you’re not taking your eye off of either ball.

“You have to have enough energy around the new products that you’re actually going to be successful in making it happen, but not take away so much attention from your core product that you’re diminishing the value to your clients,” Macia says.

“It’s about being honest with yourself, your company and your staff about what you can achieve. At the same time, human nature is to avoid change, so a lot of times as a business leader you have to make sure people aren’t pushing back. So you have to assess what your capabilities are and what your team can do.”

 

Tap strong talent

As MTM has grown and expanded its services and product offerings, the company has had to ensure that its team is equipped to handle the new work.

“We are continually recruiting talent and making sure we have the right fit both from individuals who are running our programs in our local markets that are client-facing, and internally with the specific talent we need across different areas of the business,” Macia says.

During the hiring process, you have to be diligent and ensure that the person you bring onboard fits into your company culture.

“Obviously when you’re looking to bring someone in, they need to have the background and experience for that position, but it’s not just background and experience,” she says. “They need to fit within your culture and should interview with multiple individuals within the organization. After we’ve identified top candidates, we usually use a third-party vendor to assess their critical thinking skills and whether they’re a fit for the role.”

MTM’s process helps slow people down who might be looking to simply fill a position because they have a gap versus truly finding the best person for the job.

“We want people to be successful at MTM for them and for MTM,” Macia says. “We don’t want to hire people who are not a good fit, because it’s time and money for MTM, and its demoralizing to be put in a role that you can’t be successful at.”

Once someone is hired at MTM the company does extensive employee training and engagement.

“Companies that have high employee engagement outperform their competitors, and it’s not just because of that, but because it makes for a great work environment where people want to get up and come to work every day,” she says. “I like to come to work every day, and I like what I do and I hope my whole company feels the same way.”

Employee engagement can’t just be lip service. For employees to truly engage with your company, you have to prove to them that you are serious about having engagement be a part of the business.

“It has to be a priority,” she says. “A lot of times, business leaders are looking at how to save money, and I think it’s a penny-wise and pound-foolish thing not to invest in training and employee engagement because it pays dividends back.

“As a leader you need to focus on giving employees the tools to be successful — training and moving barriers. It’s multi-faceted and there’s no secret ingredient, but it’s open communication with your staff, clear goals for the organization, tools and training, and then recognition for a job well done.”

With many aspects of MTM running smoothly and sights set on further growth, Macia is excited for the opportunities in front of the company, but is waiting for that right time to pounce. 

“We are interested in looking at the potential of international growth, but right now we are growing at such a rate that we don’t need to look for additional ways to grow,” she says. “We are growing at about 35 percent a year or more. When that slows down, we’ll look at acquisitions and other ways to grow, but right now we’re focused on organic growth.”

 

Takeaways

  • Understand what areas of your business need improving.
  • Manage your core product or service growth while finding new opportunities.
  • Build and engage the right team to develop your company’s growth.

 

The Macia File

Name: Alaina Macia                                                                                        
Title: President and CEO
Company: MTM Inc.

Born: Washington D.C.

Education: Attended Washington University and received a bachelor’s degree in biological engineering and a master’s degree in business administration with a focus in finance and accounting.

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it? I worked as a lifeguard and also worked at a restaurant, but the one job that I had that gave me the best experience was working at my mom’s CPA practice. I worked with clients, helped meet deadlines and helped process information for staff. Being 16 and working with the public was a great experience.

Who is someone you look up to in the business world? Sir Richard Branson. I’ve always admired his entrepreneurial spirit and the fact that he believes in large goals. He inspires people to think outside the box.

What is the best business advice you’ve received? The 80/20 rule. Understanding what’s driving 80 percent of what’s going on and ignoring the other 20 percent so you can make vast improvement quickly.

What are you excited about at MTM? I get excited watching my employees engage, grow and have new opportunities.

If you could speak with anyone from the past or present, with whom would you want to speak with? The people I want to talk to are the people who are great at what I’m not great at. Both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton can speak well and engage their audience. That’s a great skill because people who master that can be successful.

 

How to reach: MTM Inc., (636) 561-5686 or www.mtm-inc.net

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