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A Success Story: Williams Bros. Home Modifications

Home Blog A Success Story: Williams Bros. Home Modifications

By Chuck Williams, Executive Vice President, HME Operations, Williams Bros. Health Care Pharmacy, Washington, Ind.

In June of 2014, we visited VGM’s Heartland Conference where they offered classes in C.E.A.C. certification and several classes led by Bill Stelzer on home modifications. I returned to my home base and convinced our ownership to begin investing in this “new” aging-in-place strategy. We began searching for a building contractor to bring on board to begin remodeling homes with a repairman/installer that we currently employed.

In addition to construction workers, we felt we needed to have one point of contact at the office for anyone wanting this type of work done. We hired an assistant to control all of the incoming information and to disseminate our outbound messages. By June of 2015, we had started doing small grab bar and Safeway step jobs for our retail customers. We were also installing a few stair lifts and vertical platform lifts. Then we got a job for a “commercial” elevator. Our advice on these is DO NOT EVER attempt this kind of work. We got bogged down for a couple of months in addition to having to sub-contract a licensed elevator contractor. We ended the year having done 32 jobs of all kinds.

In researching the market, we discovered the Indiana State Waiver program had a benefit for home modifications of $15,000 lifetime. In our part of the state, they had few companies bidding, and the state requires three bids to be able to award the work. In 2016, we found ourselves being the third bid in many areas, and we began to win a fair number of jobs, but we could tell there was a lot of pent-up demand. We added another repairman from our DME and put him to work full time in home modifications. We hired another contractor in February and another installer in March. We added another installer in May. By the end of 2016, we had completed 278 jobs of all kinds.

We have tried to sub-contract some jobs along the way but have found that we have little control over their schedules and in at least three cases, we had to go back and finish work that was either not completed or unsatisfactory, and the contractor would not respond to the complaint. We still do sub-contract some specialized work (for example, tile), but we are looking to get one or two contractors some training so we will not have to rely on subs.

We continue to add to our revenue and employment (our installers and contractors are all C.E.A.C. certified). We are currently hiring two more installers, and our job count at the end of 2017 was 403.

We have gone from NEVER wanting to install a grab bar to our current state where we routinely gut a customer’s bathroom and install no-barrier showers, ADA toilets, vanities, and grab bars of all stripes. We build most of our ramps to stay competitive. 

The work is among some of the most satisfying in our company as our contractors and installers literally transform our customers’ lives every day.

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