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Amara Home Care, the SBA and the Small Business Development Center Team Up to Provide Success
Chattanooga, Tenn.-- In 1998, Dan Spriggs began a business that was to evolve into one of the most successful independent home health care businesses in the east Tennessee area. Dan saw a need emerging to provide quality in-home care in the lives of his own close family members, and for the growing senior citizen market for all aspects of in-home care.
The early days were very difficult, according to Dan. Dan Spriggs first contacted the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Chattanooga. The SBDC, sponsored and supported by the SBA, provides free one-on-one business counseling as well as workshops and seminars on how to run a small business. Dan had great experiences with the SBDC: “Their expertise, encouragement and assistance proved to be invaluable,” he noted. Within a few short weeks of establishing his company, then called Evercare Home Services, Dan’s business opened in a tiny one-room office in the Small Business Center on Cherokee Boulevard in Chattanooga, right down the hall from the SBDC. “With only his grit and determination, and a few hundred dollars to get moving, Dan opened his doors, and proved that determination can really provide success,” recalls Jules Doux, his SBDC counselor. Times were tough, but within a few years, Dan’s office grew from one to five employees and now to ten caregivers providing in-home care services all over the Chattanooga area.
Having established itself as the premier in-home care business in Chattanooga, the company set its eyes on growing market share, according to Doux of the SBDC. “With the growth of the business came a growth of its staff from five to ten to over twenty-five, outgrowing its offices three times in the Small Business Center,” says Doux. Streamlined payment methodologies, bonus payments to employees, along with incentive programs were implemented to allow all workers to share in the growth of the company. Additionally, because of revenue growth, market exposure, and increased liability costs, the company decided to change from an LLC to a corporation in 2004. In early 2007, Dan Spriggs chose to change the name of the company to Amara Home Care, named after his first granddaughter. The name change was facilitated by a request from United Healthcare, the insurance giant, which had used the name “Evercare” some years earlier.
The name change meant a unique challenge: forcing a switch in logo, name, brand and even strategy. In spite of the change, Amara Home Care retained all of its previous clients and executed a seamless brand transfer strategy by making small notifications in all of its advertising and by speaking with all of their clients, past and present, about the name change. The new company strategy, according to the SBDC’s Doux, included creating new relationships with its banks, lenders and vendors not only to survive but to thrive.
Amara Home Care now employs a staff of from fifty to seventy-five members consisting of business managers, nurses, and administrative staff. “Dan Spriggs and Amara Home Care have become one of the SBDC’s truly great success stories, and proving once again the value of persistence and sound business planning,” notes the SBDC’s Doux. For more information on the Small Business Development Center network in Tennessee, please visit the SBDC website, www.tsbdc.org or the SBA website, www.sba.gov. The SBA, established in 1953, has helped millions of people get in business, stay in business and grow their businesses.
The SBA helps people get in business, stay in business and grow their businesses. For more information on SBA programs and services please visit the SBA website, www.sba.gov or contact the Tennessee District SBA Office, 2 International Plaza, Suite 500, Nashville, TN 37217 (615)736-5881, www.sba.gov/tn