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Sports PT looks for steady growth after ‘year of relocation’

By Journal Staff


DeWITT  —  Sports Physical Therapy of New York, PC (Sports PT) is looking forward to solid growth in 2012 after it moved nearly a quarter of its offices last year.

The company, which is headquartered at 6319 Fly Road in DeWitt, did not move any of its three Syracuse–area locations in 2011. Last year’s relocations were mostly downstate, where the company has about two-thirds of its offices.

Sports PT moved New York City offices in the Wall Street, Times Square, SoHo, and Union Square districts, as well as offices near Albany and near Rochester. It spent about $400,000 on facility moves and equipment purchases, up from its usual yearly average of $250,000. Sports PT finances moves with its own cash.

“Last year was our year of relocation,” says Lynn Steenberg, owner and president of Sports PT. “We moved three offices in four weeks downstate, and we had a major snowstorm before every single one.”

Steenberg didn’t set a goal of moving six locations in 2011. Reasons for the relocations varied, from patient demand to the need for more accessible locations.

“There’s a lifecycle for facilities,” Steenberg says. “Their lease has come due. We sit down and make some disciplined decisions.”

A typical Sports PT therapy office is about 2,000 square feet, Steenberg says. The company leases all of its locations.

Its headquarters on Fly Road in DeWitt includes 2,000 square feet of therapy space and also has a 5,000-square-foot administrative space. Other Sports PTs in the Syracuse area are located at 5320 W. Genesee St. in Camillus and at Gold’s Gym at 7455 Morgan Road in Clay.

Sports PT isn’t planning as many office moves in 2012 as it had last year, but the company will likely relocate an office it has in Greece, near Rochester. It also opened a new downstate office in Queens in January.

The new Queens office gave Sports PT a total of 23 locations in the state. Steenberg does not anticipate increasing the company’s number of offices much beyond that.

“We have no interest in growing to 50 facilities for the sake of growing,” she says. “We decided that 20 to 25 [offices] is really where we want to be.”

Steenberg estimates the company will increase its patient volume by 5 percent in 2012, which could lead to a 5 percent increase in revenue. The firm bills about $16.5 million in patient services every year, she says.

“I’ll be pleased if we see 5 percent [growth],” Steenberg says. “The margins of physical therapy are not great.”

Around 875 patients visit Sports PT locations throughout the state every day. The firm’s locations are in the Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island areas. Its three Syracuse–area offices see a total of 60 to 75 patients per day.

Sports PT employs nearly 200 people across all of its locations. It hired employees to fill 8 new positions last year, three of which were in the Syracuse area.

The firm has a total of about 60 employees in the Syracuse area. Half of those employees work in its headquarters on Fly Road.

About 65 full-time physical therapists work at the company, and the rest of its employees are members of its support staff. A majority of Sports PT employees are full-time workers, according to Steenberg.

The firm would like to hire additional therapists, according to Dorothy Hall, Sports PT’s director of organizational development. But the company does not have a target for hiring, she says.

“Qualified physical therapists are our biggest need right now,” she says. “We don’t do our projections in such a way that we say we want to grow by 50. We want to make sure it’s the right fit for the right reasons.”

Growth at Sports PT has been helped by 2006 state legislation known as a direct-access law, Steenberg says. That allows patients to see a physical therapist without first seeing a doctor, she says.

The law can save time and money by preventing unnecessary tests, Steenberg adds. Therapists can typically determine whether therapy will help a patient without X-rays or MRI scans, she says.

“We’re trained well enough to be able to assess a patient’s symptoms, listen to their subjective complaints, and then make a determination as to whether a patient really needs tests right away or whether physical therapy is warranted first,” she says.


Company history

Steenberg has owned part of Sports PT since 2000 and took over as the company’s sole owner in 2005. Prior to 2005, the company had an affiliation with Birmingham, Ala.–based HealthSouth Corp. (NYSE: HLS).

Steenberg decided she wanted to take sole control of the company after a 2003 accounting-fraud scandal that saw federal regulators raid HealthSouth’s headquarters in Alabama. The scandal never reached Sports PT’s administrative headquarters, which was on Henry Clay Boulevard in Clay at the time, but Steenberg did not want to continue to be affiliated with HealthSouth, she says.

“For me it was the beginning of the end of the relationship,” she says. “It took the next two years to set the course, and we separated ways.”

Sports PT actually had 27 locations across the state when Steenberg took sole ownership in 2005. The company’s number of offices has varied over the years, she says.

“HealthSouth’s role and philosophy was basically grow at any cost,” she says. “Look at the dots on the map, and where there’s not a dot, we should put one down. That is not my philosophy at all.”

Still, Steenberg has been willing to expand when she believed the fit was right. For example, Sports PT opened its first location in the Rochester area in 2005. It now has two locations in the region.                                 

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