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A Discussion with Eric Allison About Healthcare Staffing: Part One

Eric Allison is a healthcare staffing expert with more than thirty years of experience in the field of Staffing & Recruiting. He is also an advisor for corporate Mergers & Acquisitions and a serial entrepreneur. In 2001, started Pulse Healthcare Staffing, a company providing nurses to healthcare facilities throughout the United States. In the short […]

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Eric Allison
Eric Allison

Eric Allison is a healthcare staffing expert with more than thirty years of experience in the field of Staffing & Recruiting. He is also an advisor for corporate Mergers & Acquisitions and a serial entrepreneur.

In 2001, started Pulse Healthcare Staffing, a company providing nurses to healthcare facilities throughout the United States. In the short span of three years, the company grew from three to 340 nurses on payroll. NurseWeek recognized Pulse Healthcare Staffing as one of the fastest-growing healthcare staffing companies in 2003. The following year, Eric brokered the sale of the company to World Health Alternatives (later rebranded as Jackson Healthcare).

In 2005, Eric purchased Mobile Medical Staffing, becoming its majority owner and Chief Executive Officer. Mobile Medical Staffing supplied high-quality staff to hospitals, nursing homes, physician practices, and healthcare systems in both the private sector and the public sector at the municipal, county, state, and federal levels. Eric sold the company in 2008.

During the same period of time, Eric became a Managing Partner of Global Response Inc., as well as a minority owner. Global Response Inc. was ultimately sold for more than nine times its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

From 2012 – 2013, Eric participated in the Executive Leadership Program at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business with a particular focus on business leadership, marketing, and finance. He also used the opportunity to sharpen his persuasion skills, joining the program’s debate squad.

Currently, Eric Allison is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Atlanta-based investment management firm Staffing Venture Capital (SVC), leading all investment origination, due diligence, and execution activities. Most recently, he was the Managing Director of M&A at Golden One Ventures, where he practices mergers and acquisitions, consulting for mid-level companies from both the buy-side and the sell-side. With Eric at the helm, Golden One Ventures has completed multiple international deals, primarily in the technology and staffing industries. Its client base includes private equity groups, private companies, and mid-market individual investors.Simultaneously, Eric Allison also serves as the Director of Corporate Development at Premier Healthcare Professionals.

Tell us about your first staffing agency and how it inspired you to become a serial entrepreneur

After a few years of working as a recruiter, having built my network, and finally finding the right mindset to create my own success, I started my own staffing firm, Pulse Healthcare Staffing, a company that provides travel nurses to top healthcare facilities throughout the United States for contractually defined assignment periods and on a permanent basis. The company started with only three nurses and grew to have 340 nurses on the payroll in just over three years. NurseWeek recognized Pulse as one of the fastest-growing healthcare staffing companies in 2003. After two years in the business, I received several acquisitions offers from different companies. And finally, in 2004, I brokered the sale of Pulse Healthcare Staffing to World Health Alternatives, currently Jackson Healthcare.

This is when I realized that I have the capability to build and grow companies into profitable businesses for potential investment and acquisition. Since then, I’ve acquired and managed several firms which led me to become a successful entrepreneur in the staffing field.

How do you know it is the right time to start another entrepreneurial endeavor?

Having been part of several businesses, I know how challenging it is to leave the comfort of a thriving business and take the risks that come with starting a business again. My whole entrepreneurial career has been about finding problems, solving them as simply and elegantly as possible, and ensuring that there’s a real need that the business can be built on.

Before starting a new venture, I ask myself these questions: Does it solve a current problem? Are there any potential customers underserved with the product/service that I plan to offer? How many players are in the field? Is the business scalable? How do I see it growing in a couple of years?

How do you effectively manage your time between all of your positions?

I always choose my battles when it comes to dealing with day to day operations in the business. I ask myself, is this problem worth my energy or do I have better things to do? Can somebody else handle the task? And in cases where I need to do some job, I do it as soon as it gets to my lap. I don’t let it pile up as it gets more time consuming to do multiple things at once.

I have also learned to trust my people. Every member of my team was hired for a reason. Whether it was due to their skills or experience, they were hired because I trust that they can handle tasks on their own. A successful businessman knows how to delegate tasks to skilled employees in order to develop and work on other ideas. Naturally, you need a system that gives you space to implement new strategies and brainstorm new ideas.

What factors go into deciding whether to acquire another agency?

When looking at a firm to possibly acquire, we consider factors such as strong finances, seasoned internal talent, a client base similar to those we serve in other markets, the firm’s ability to deliver our services to current and new customers, and strong local management teams. If one of these factors is out of the mix, the likelihood that the acquisition will succeed drops significantly.

Once you’re confident that a company matches the profile you’re seeking, it’s time to really dig in and look under the hood. A good starting point is making sure you fully understand what the company provides and how they fit in with your firm’s offerings and your customers’ needs. You’ll need to take a comprehensive, detailed look at the company’s finances which should include a review of possible scenarios. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions.

Another important factor to consider is if there’s a good cultural fit between the two companies and to develop a comprehensive post-acquisition business and operational model. It’s especially important to prepare the existing organizations for working as a combined group.

An acquisition can re-ignite a company. The reality is that there are companies out there that do some things better than you do, and vice versa. By bringing together two companies that complement one another and extend the value of each one, you can create a new company that delivers benefits and advantages to employees and clients much greater than each firm could realize on its own.

How has the pandemic affected your businesses?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in significant financial challenges for the healthcare industry, smaller independent health systems are preoccupied with managing the financial and operational struggles and are pursuing partnerships with healthcare staffing agencies in order to deploy medical professionals and ensure the continued delivery of quality healthcare to communities. As the demand for healthcare staff grows bigger and bigger, healthcare staffing agencies tend to look for opportunities to scale either by bringing in investors or merging with bigger healthcare staffing companies to be able to meet the demand. This gives the opportunities for companies like SVC to acquire investments and help staffing firms realize their growth.

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