SBJ: What has been key to your recent growth?
Phil Melugin: Staying power has been a huge factor in our recent growth, and with that staying power, we have achieved diversification and … synergy among the many programs we offer. In addition, we have been successful in creating a recognizable market brand.
SBJ: What are your top issues when it comes to managing growth?
Melugin: A pretty significant one is cash flow. Our payroll on any given week is $1 million-plus, so the cash flow required to meet a payroll of that magnitude is not easy. And then, we also have a constant need to add to the workforce, so staffing is definitely a challenge. With staffing and having that many individuals assimilated within Phoenix to come up with that growth, a challenge that we are consistently dealing with is developing the staff.
SBJ: What has the company’s growth enabled you to do?
Melugin: We have been able to pursue further diversification. For instance, this year, we added a pharmacy to Phoenix’s portfolio of services that we provide to our employees, clients and patients. We also are one of a very few, if any, home care services in this area that has actually started their own (accountable care organization). That particular initiative on our part has given us access to a lot of growth that includes opportunities well beyond Missouri, Kansas and Colorado, which are the three main states we have business interests in.
SBJ: Can you grow too fast?
Melugin: I believe that there is such a thing as growing too fast, and what happens with that is service failures. That goes back up to the top issues with managing your growth. If you’re not developing staff and keeping up with the staff necessary to handle growth, then you start having service failures. And if you’re not managing your cash, then you have truly a cash crisis. That is a very serious reality that has to be guarded against with a company that is independently owned.
SBJ: Where is the tipping point?
Melugin: A tipping point would be growing past our ability to produce a quality product, consistently. That’s the key.
SBJ: Have your goals changed as business has taken off?
Melugin: When we first started the business, I can honestly say that top-of-mind many days was survival, and now, we are very blessed to get to think most days about a true eagerness to achieve our potential.
SBJ: What is the worst business advice you’ve received?
Melugin: When we started the company, we had some competitors that really did not want to see us succeed, and [they] created some legal challenges to our success. And probably the worst business advice I’ve ever had was to settle with these competitors or take legal action to make their legal challenges go away. We didn’t do that, and consequently, the company became very strong.
Ariake Sushi and Robata opened; Great Southern Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: GSBC) opened its newest branch in Springfield; and a longtime employee with City Utilities of Springfield went into business for himself with the launch of Van Every Drafting & Design LLC.