What began in 1995 as a small physical therapy clinic in Ooltewah has grown into the largest outpatient rehabilitation provider in the South and one of the fastest growing in the country with more than 280 clinics across the U.S.
Through acquisitions, new services and organic growth, Benchmark Physical Therapy and its corporate successor, Benchmark Rehab Partners, continues to add, on average, about one new clinic every week.
"We have been and want to continue to be a growing business," said Dave Van Name, president and CEO of Benchmark Rehab Partners, who founded the current version of the company in 2004. "We added 52 clinics last year through both acquisitions and our own growth, and we plan to expand into our 14th state by the end of the year."
Benchmark is the biggest outpatient rehabilitation provider in its top markets in Atlanta, Chattanooga, Knoxville and Kansas City and operates other clinics across the country from Oregon to Virginia.
With such growth, Benchmark finally outgrew the space at its original Ooltewah site this summer and moved last month into the top floor of the new 57,600-square-foot office that also houses Miller-Motte Technical College in the Lee Pointe development at Lee Highway and Highway 153.
The new location allowed the company to put all 150 of its employees in the corporate headquarters on the same floor for the first time, although Van Name said the new space is already full.
The headquarters handles bills, scheduling, payroll and other functions for more than 280 clinics owned by the company and many of its physical therapists.
"We are a company that allows our physical therapists to have an equity ownership in the clinics," Van Name said. "The difference is that these people are not just employees, they are true owners with us with a stake in the business."
Although Benchmark Rehab Partners typically owns 80 to 90 percent of each clinic, the physical therapists who lead each clinic usually buy into their facility and, as partial owners, usually have more earnings capability.
"That makes us a company not just accountable to our private equity owners (Revelstoke Capital in Denver since 2015) but also the 144 equity partners I have in our company," Van Name said.
Benchmark offers physical therapists the billing, collections, scheduling, marketing, payroll, tax and other support services from its Chattanooga headquarters. That allows PT providers to concentrate on their medical services, rather than having to worry about running the business as do individual physical therapists who own and operate their own business.
In its key markets, Benchmark operates clinics in the major areas of the city so that those getting treatment don't have to drive as far and are more easily able to access clinic services than those offered at major, centralized healthcare providers. Most clinics operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. five days a week and are typically are 3,500- to 5,000-square-feet in size.
In Atlanta, Benchmark operates 70 clinics and Benchmark has nearly 40 in the Chattanooga region.
"Our goal is to have more smaller clinics that are easy to get to rather than having monstrous clinics in a market," Van Name said. "We try to provide low cost services to an expanding marketplace with as much patient convenience as possible."
Physical therapy is growing nationwide at about a 5 percent annual pace as the population ages, new surgical procedures require more rehabilitation, and hospitals try to avoid re-admissions after surgery by employing more PT treatments. Physical therapy also can be an alternative to opioids and other pain medicines.
Van Name said Benchmark is growing at an even faster pace than the industry as a whole, and the company is looking for more acquisitions in an industry that currently has nearly 50,000 physical therapy businesses across the country.
"We've done three acquisitions already this year and we're looking for others," he said.
Van Name said Benchmark also emphasizes a strong culture to serve its patients and to provide ongoing education for its clinicians.
Benchmark spends more for educating its clinicians "so we have more clinicians with advanced certifications than any other provider," Van Name said.
Benchmark has the largest certified residency program in the country for physical therapists, as certified by the American Physical Therapist Association. As a result, BenchMark has more advanced certified therapists than any physical therapy practice in the region.
BenchMark Rehab Institute achieved candidacy status for its Fellowship in Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy through The American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education last year.
The company also picks a charity every year to help support and gives each of its 1,800 employees a day off to volunteer at that charity. This year, Benchmark expects to give over $300,000 of money and services to the American Heart Association.
"We pick a charity every year and try to rally our employees behind that," Van Name said. "It really helps us recruit and retain people because they want to work at a company that gives back to their community."
Contact Dave Flessner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 757-6340
At a glance
› Name: Benchmark Rehab Partners, a division of Upstream Rehabilitation
› Headquarters: 6394 Lee Highway in East Brainerd, relocated from Ooltewah earlier this year
› Staff: About 1,000 employees, 150 at its Chattanooga headquarters
› Started: In August, 1995, the first Benchmark Physical Therapy clinic opened in Ooltewah. Benchmark Reha Partners began in 2005 when Benchmark joined with Rehab South and Pro Therapy in Atlanta
› Number of clinics: 280 in 13 states in the Southeast
› Owner: Private equity firm, Revelstoke Capital, in Denver, bought the company in 2015
› President and CEO: Dave Van Name