Walking into Taylor Made Diagnostics’ office condo, the sights and sounds are not what you’d expect from a typical medical office. They were aggressive in purchasing a spot in a recently constructed office building in Chesapeake’s industrial South Norfolk with Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s huge cranes to the east and to the northeast is the heart of Norfolk with BAE Systems, Colonna Shipyard and hundreds of Department of Defense support contractors. It is no accident that Taylor Made Diagnostics picked the location site centrally located in the heart of an industrial community and within minutes of Hampton Roads cities.
While their familiar name may tempt you to believe they make or fix golf products, in fact they are an industrial medicine firm that focuses on health, wellness and prevention of workplace illnesses and injuries. Being in an industrial area puts Taylor Made Diagnostics in the center of their target clients.
Owner Caroline Taylor is like a cross between Warren Buffett and Goldie Hawn. She's a true entrepreneur who sees the big picture and knows the sky’s the limit. You’ll instantly notice her warm personality and sense of humor. She uses humor to peak attention and relax her audience. Her latest marketing swag is a prescription bottle labeled “laughter tablet; generic for hilarity.” Directions on the bottle say to take one as needed, followed by a smile. Of course, it’s only filled with breath mints, but is always an excellent icebreaker with clients.
As an experienced registered nurse, she has the perfect temperament to run a small business. She brings a lot of confidence and positive energy to the office. That energy is the foundation of her hiring methods - find people who are personable and coachable versus hiring the most technical person. Her experience proves that someone with those traits will stay longer fitting into the organization therefore, making it more successful. This strategy prevents high employee turnover and saves the company time and money from repeating the process for the same role. Taylor has retained greater than 65% for workforce for 10 or more years. You can see the employee engagement when you visit the office. They love working for Taylor and being a part of her team.
Like many small business owners, Taylor had an idea to solve a problem. In 1995, she learned that an employer was having difficulty meeting OSHA compliance requirements. They had hundreds of employees who were required to have pre-employment drug testing physicals and OSHA mandated testing. The disruption for that employer was the loss of time and productivity sending an employee to a clinic versus working on the project. Taylor’s solution was to develop a mobile medical service to meet those needs on site. The immediate response was so overwhelming she opened a medical facility to do the same.
Like many small businesses and startups, Taylor Made Diagnostic did not always have the capital to grow, let alone have the resources for a bright new office.
“The idea to start my own firm was started with only five grand and a vision,” said Taylor. “When I started, I didn’t pay myself for four years. I was undercapitalized, but I kept putting any money I made back into the business because I believed in what I was doing and knew it would work out in the end.”
Capital is often a problem for many companies like Taylor Made Diagnostics, but help is out there. Taylor was able to move to new office space through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 504 loan guarantee program. The program makes it easier for lenders to provided businesses to acquire long-term fixed assets (like real estate) and equipment with at least a 10 year lifespan.
“I am so grateful that the SBA was an available option in helping to get a loan. They supported me through the entire process with clear communication and support,” said Taylor.
Now in its 20th year, Taylor Made Diagnostics is going strong. The early sacrifices and struggles are really paying off. Taylor has recently invested in a new 30 foot mobile unit with x-ray capabilities. It allows more opportunities to expand her client base by meeting their onsite needs and keeps up her commitment to excellence. With the new capabilities come new opportunities. Because of her reinvestment back into the company, they are now able to bid and win contracts like the one recently awarded from Virginia’s Department of Military Affairs.
Caroline Taylor gave everything she could early on to see rewards 20 years later. She is a prime example of how planning, patience and a little help from the SBA can achieve your vision of success.