The MRA Journey
After leading the corporate development team through over 35 acquisitions at a private equity fund, Charlie Saponaro founded a search fund in 2010 to explore his next opportunity. Through this search fund, Charlie identified Medical Record Associates – a business started in 1986. During his tenure in private equity, many of the acquisitions he was involved with were in the records management space, leading to a perfect fit with MRA.
What are some inspirations that motivate you in your day-to-day life?
Charlie shared his deep motivation backed by family, health, and well-being. But as it relates to the business, having a company that provides quality services within the healthcare sector is important. He explains that providing a workplace that people enjoy, are challenged at, are treated well at, and like being part of, is the ultimate motivation. With a 94% employee retention rate, it’s clear that Charlie’s team is excited and motivated.
What makes Medical Record Associates unique from other competitors in the industry?
MRA provides medical coding, auditing, and cancer registry services to hospitals around the United States. With over 6,000 hospitals in the US, there are both large networks with 100+ plus hospitals as well as smaller, critical access facilities. Charlie finds that MRA matches well with middle-market hospitals that are ~$25MM in revenues with critical access networks of 15-20 facilities. The biggest differentiator is that MRA has the resources to provide this part of the market with quality services.
“I think that we match up well with our resources, service, and quality compared to some of the other companies. I’m happy to say we’ve got a 92% customer retention rate”, says Charlie.
How has the pandemic changed Medical Record Associates and its industry?
Initially, when the pandemic hit, MRA was hit hard due to the hospitals around the US stopping non-emergency procedures. MRA experienced a ~50% drop in revenues in an industry that traditionally is not impacted by cyclical or seasonal events. Despite the difficulty, things bounced back rather quickly, he shares.
“I think it’s interesting right now that we’re seeing most of the hospitals that we’re working with are pretty busy, and it’s not just COVID… but a lot of elective work that was backed up from people not going when they stopped all the elective procedures.”
Charlie is curious, however, to see how regulators look at the US healthcare system after the circumstances we’ve faced with COVID, and whether they implement requirements around factors such as capacity. In a world where providers are already stretched thin, with demand increasing, MRA becomes the perfect partner to help these networks expand their capabilities.
What are some obstacles that Medical Record Associates has encountered?
MRA had additional business units focused on third-party requests for medical records, which it divested in 2018. There was a big lead-up to a change in the coding set in one of MRA’s businesses, which drove a tremendous amount of growth in demand. However, when that coding change went into effect, the industry saw a drop in demand across the board.
What are the core values at Medical Record Associates?
Responsiveness: MRA has a core value on simply getting back to people, whether it’s internally or externally, as soon as possible.
Accountability: Do what’s expected.
Growth: Always be growing, whether it’s personally, professionally, or as a business; that’s simply important.
Wellness: A focus on people’s wellness: physically, mentally, and as a business.
Quality: A drive to do 100% in everything you do.
What’s the most important piece of advice you can offer to other entrepreneurs?
A clear focus on short-term and long-term goals. Despite systems available to develop the building blocks for goal planning, getting together as a team so that everyone is focused on the right things and agreeing on those is fundamentally important.
Charlie continues, “I think that is really important because especially at an early-stage business, you’re wearing so many hats; it’s really easy to get distracted down a rabbit hole here or there, but make sure that you’re focusing on the most important things that are going to drive the business to that next stage.”
Where do you see Medical Record Associates in 5 years?
MRA is growing organically with existing customers and with sales and marketing, on top of some potential acquisitions. For MRA, there’s a lot of runway. There’s been a tremendous amount of consolidation within the industry in the last decade. The surplus of private equity available is primarily to be blamed. As a privately-owned company, there’s a vacuum with large, private equity-backed corporations and mom-and-pops. Because of this, there aren’t a lot of middle-market-sized companies anymore. To Charlie, this is a tremendous opportunity to take market share, and grow the business with existing offerings while also having the potential to expand into other ancillary services.
How important are advisors to Medical Record Associates?
Charlie expressed, “I think as far as service providers go, Gesmer has been a great advisor. Tom Durkin has been the primary attorney that we’ve been working with. Tom and Sean Gilligan have been great assets in helping me complete transactions, in addition to day-to-day needs. We do a lot of contracts with new business, and we’re trying to figure out where we should and shouldn’t be pushing back. I think Gesmer has been a great partner. I’ve been happy.
I’ve known Gesmer for years, and I knew Steve Snyder for 10 plus years. We’ve worked with large national law firms down to solo practitioners, and I’ve probably spent far more on legal over the years than I would like. But I’ve been really happy with our partnership with Gesmer.”
Why go with Gesmer?
For Charlie, Gesmer has the resources and expertise of the larger firms, without the overhead and bureaucracy. This creates the ability for entrepreneurs like Charlie to interact with senior-level partners, without paying the fees of some of the larger law firms.
Click here for more information about MRA and Charlie Saponaro.
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