Acquisitions do not usually unfold like this.
For weeks, the staff at Delta Health Technologies' Altoona, Pennsylvania headquarters had known, thanks to the transparency policy of President and CEO Keith Crownover, that some sort of recapitalization plan was in the works. They knew it could turn in directions good or bad for them. They had seen competitors acquired in recent years -- Lewis, HealthWyse, Homecare Homebase, ContinuLink, Suncoast, the list goes on -- and, more often than not, watched heads roll and headquarters relocated. Nervous whispers filled break rooms and hallways for months.
Then came Monday, December 18. An all-staff meeting was called to officially announce the acquisition and introduce to them their new CEO. As Tony Ott, CEO of Salo Solutions Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, stepped up to the microphone, the sigh of relief was audible. "Oh, it's Tony!" echoed through the room. "Hi, Tony!"
New CEO, old friend
Ohio native Tony Ott first visited Altoona years ago as the IT support person for a long defunct home health agency that had been a Delta customer. His career path took him to Interim Healthcare of Ohio, where he rose to CIO. When that franchise changed EMR vendors, Ott led the implementation project. But the project was so large — at 35 branches, Ohio is the largest group of Interim's 300+ nationwide locations — CEO Thomas DiMarco decided it was practical to create a separate support services company to manage it. CIO Tony Ott became the CEO of that company, Salo Solutions Inc. Today Salo provides IT and data analytics services to a wide variety of businesses.
From friends to business partners
With little fanfare, Crownover had been entertaining investors of various stripes for a year or so. "It was time to consider a capital infusion so we could continue to grow," he told us. "When Tony called and asked if I ever took calls from people who wanted to acquire Delta, I laughed and said, 'In this business, that is a daily occurrence.' So we talked. And I realized Salo might just meet all my conditions: no relocation from Altoona, nobody loses their job, and customers barely notice the difference. None of the VCs or investment fund managers I interviewed would make those guarantees."
Crownover has seen his share of changes in 34 years at Delta. His personal career path led him through nearly every department, from tech support to sales to sales management to president. He was sales manager when the owners sold the company to SMS, a hospital EMR company. He was still there when SMS became a subsidiary of Siemens, the German conglomerate. Finally, he helped form the team that bought Delta back from Siemens, which included Neil Port, who was the company's founder in 1968. Through it all, Crownover told us at the time, he has had the same address and telephone number, a sign that Delta's culture has been a constant. As President, he has confidence that he and Ott will work well together.
"The Delta culture is going to continue," Crownover said, "because the Salo culture matches it. What happened at the staff announcement meeting would never have happened if we had taken on an investor who just wanted to maximize profits for three years and exit. I call it a peaceful transition of power, one you don't often see. Here you have Neil Port, Chairman of the Board, who has been around for 50 years, standing in front of the entire staff and passing the torch to a new CEO, confident that the company he founded would continue with the same culture he had created. That confidence affects every person in the Delta family and will extend to our customers."
©2017 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. firstname.lastname@example.org