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Sustainable growth Featured

9:54am EDT January 27, 2006
When one door closes, another one opens, as T. Scott Law discovered when Anthem Inc. sold subsidiary AllMed Financial Corp. in 1998.

Law, AllMed’s chief financial officer at the time of the sale, bought the company’s billing software to start Zotec Solutions, a medical billing and medical records imaging software company.

“I was at the right place at the right time, relatively speaking, to the opportunity that got created,” says Law. “Anthem was a wonderful company to deal with on the way out, and they allowed me to set up a very nice business.”

Today, his $7 million company employs 80 and has more than 4,000 clients. And although Zotec is growing rapidly, Law is trying to keep its atmosphere welcoming and laid back.

“We have a very casual business attire philosophy,” he says. “We are a laidback, work hard, play harder kind of company. We want people to enjoy what they are doing and be here because they want to be here versus being here for a paycheck.”

Smart Business spoke with Law, president and CEO of Zotec, about how he provides a quality product and the impact acquisitions have had on his company.

How did you turn the software you bought from Anthem into a rapidly growing company?
We tried to focus on providing value to every single customer that we have taken on. They have then, by word of mouth, told other people about what we have done and so on and so forth. It’s all been growth basically by having satisfied customers.

With more than 4,000 physician clients relying on Zotec, what do you do to ensure that you provide the best quality product?
I stay in touch with them. ... I know all of our clients personally. I’m still involved in the business on a day-to-day basis.

We’ve got a tremendous amount of checks and balances on statistical reporting that allow us to make sure that every client’s charges are coming in and every client’s claims and money are coming in.

We’ve built a model that allows me, from anywhere in the country, to know exactly what is going on with my business. I get on my Blackberry every day (to see) how much work was done by all of the individuals in my company.

How has the acquisition of Medcor Data impacted your company?
Both positively and negatively. Quite honestly, the integration of acquisitions, the culture shock in two of the companies that we have acquired, is significant. We have tried to manage that the best we could.

We kind of take the approach of gardening. We water the flowers and we pull the weeds when we make an acquisition. That is a difficult process.

It takes a toll on the people who are staying and the people who are going to grow from that acquisition. It’s a difficult balance to manage. Overall, financially, they have been extremely rewarding acquisitions.

How do you manage the culture shock?
As professionally and as humanely as we possibly can. We try to give people the opportunity to re-educate themselves on the way we do business. We try to be very open and upfront with people about what our intentions are and tell them basically what to do, not necessarily how to do it. And they usually step up to the process, and that also spawns creative ideas.

If you get a few people out of an acquisition that really get behind the team and want to help, they usually lead the rest of the people. We identify very early on the key people and the keepers that we want to make sure we take care of, and we reward them for positive steps that they take.

How will acquisitions contribute to the future growth of the company?
We have been just exploding with internal organic growth, which in the software side of the business has been enormous in the last year. We’ve had record quarters in the last four quarters. We are growing in the software side, and we see that as being a much more sustainable way of growing the business.

Acquisitions, they come along every once in awhile, but if you start forcing yourself to make acquisitions, it has always been my philosophy that you are going to make a bad one. If you can’t ever walk away from a deal during due diligence, then you are probably in the wrong business.

I like to be able to be in that position where we have enough organic growth where we don’t need acquisitions to sustain our infrastructure. Yet, we can go out and find an acquisition and make sure we do the proper due diligence and the culture fits and it’s a nice smooth transition.

We will make more acquisitions — it’s just not a core strategy for us right now because of our organic growth.

HOW TO REACH: Zotec Solutions, (317) 705-5050 or www.zotec.com