Now with nearly 150 employees, Bianconi expects Progressive's sales to reach nearly $40 million. It's no surprise, then, that this president and CEO was named SBA's Small Business Person of the Year.
Bianconi attributes the company's astounding growth to its quality staff members who deliver dependable customer service.
"Our clients know that when we say we're going to do something, we'll do it," says Bianconi.
Progressive Medical is a managed care cost containment company that coordinates care on behalf of eligible injured parties from primarily workers' compensation agencies across the nation.
While Bianconi says other companies offer the same service, Progressive Medical was one of the first to begin operation, and it works to develop new services ahead of its competition.
"We are the first company to develop a program that allows injured workers to get their prescriptions filled without out-of-pocket expense prior to a claim being filed," says Bianconi.
Bianconi is looking ahead. While there is still plenty of room for growth in the $80 billion managed care industry, he anticipates the company's growth rate will slow and so launched two services in 2002 to diversify its revenue stream. The company now offers the same services to auto no-fault and personal injury protection insurance claims.
"The sky is the limit," says Bianconi.
Why do you think Progressive Medical has been so successful?
We are very service oriented.
Another critical ingredient is to have the best people you can possibly have. It's not necessarily education that counts, but how employees care about their jobs, serving the customer and working with each other.
The foundation of any success today is to be innovative, seize opportunities when they arise and work through the problems. It takes a tremendous amount of teamwork, which we have.
There is a terrific lack of finger-pointing; we win or lose together as a group, not as individuals.
What sets you apart from the competition?
There are a lot of very good companies out there. Probably there are certain things you need to do for the customer that are a must, and the rest is icing on the cake.
Good customer service is a given to achieve success, but you must go beyond that. You have to have people that are not afraid to make mistakes, who are willing to take on challenges and are dedicated to the growth of the company. That is what we have.
If we were to ask your clients what they like the most about Progressive Medical, what would they say?
We are constantly hearing from our clients that we are people they can count on. We continually exceed customer expectations. So many companies fail to do what they say they will do. We deliver on our word and exceed expectations.
What advice would you give new entrepreneurs?
In all businesses, some things are similar and some things are different. Every business needs cash.
You have to have the ability to utilize existing working capital and understand your income sheet and balance statement. They help guide you.
The ability for some businesses to grow is greater than others. For example, we have a national market, while others don't, but that doesn't make our problems different. Regardless of the market scope, you have to assemble a team of qualified individuals that can take your company to the next level.
You need to delegate. At first you are doing everything, and eventually you'll be doing little when it comes to day-to-day operations -- you have to delegate responsibility to get to the next level -- to minimize the impact of any one person on the operation of the business.
I've made mistakes along the way, and I've had some struggles in working toward the goals that we laid out. If you don't lose focus, you have a good chance of getting there.
But you can't be short-sighted. If you don't see success in the next week or month, don't start pulling out. You have to allow more time and resources and wholeheartedly jump in with both feet, or don't do it.
A good banking relationship is critical. You don't just need a lender, but a partner that is willing to stand by you and be a true partner. The relationship is between individuals, not companies.
How do ensure you have the right staff in place?
People believe they are hired for the knowledge they have, but that is partially true. It is also chemistry that gets you hired. I would rather hire someone that possesses great team spirit than someone with experience that doesn't.
Motivation and team spirit can overcome lesser knowledge or intellectual capacity. I look for people with experience in our industry, but the No. 1 question is, 'Is the person a fit for the company?' You can't teach someone good chemistry -- someone that shares in the blame as well as successes and understands that it's not one person that builds a company -- it's many.
I also feel it's important to not continually promote from within. It's better to have a mixture of new and existing people.
What does the future holds for Progressive Medical?
I think there is a 20-year window of opportunity when it comes to how we currently do business. Ten years from now, the way our services are delivered will be different and we'll do business differently. The growth feeds on itself after awhile.
If we don't betray our values and principles, there is opportunity for growth for many years to come. How to reach: Progressive Medical Inc., (614) 794-3300 or www.progressive-medical.com