Six years after co-founding a health-care company out of a 100-square-foot office, John Saruwatari is glad he took the risk. Blossom Ridge Home Health &Hospice, which provides i n -home skilled musing and physical therapy services,has more than 100 employees in Sacramento, Stockton and Yuba City. Itsrevenue has grown from $3.4 million in 2014 to $8.2 million in 2016. earning it a spot on the Business Jotunal’s fastest-growing companies list.
Saruwatari always dreamed of starting his own company. But it wasn’t until he was getting an MBA degree while working f u l l -time as a financial analyst at K. Hovnanian Homes that he decided to make the move. Saruwatari, fellow student Rick Ltmsford. and Lunsford’s friend Gerald Agustin teamed up in 2011 to start Blossom Ridge out of a small office in midtown Sacramento.
The three men are equal partners but Saruwatari became CFO because he had the financial and accounting chops.
“Being a co-fotmder and CFO is the best position for having financial oversight ofthe company.” he said. “You’re always wearing the hat of searching for the most sustainable and cost-effective solutions, and you also have the company’s best interests in in.ind.,.
Saruwatari also heads up hmnan resources and information technology. He built both departments while managing the company’s finances. Saruwatari said he had a lot to learn. particularly about the arcane. e v e r -changing ntles of HR. but the fact that Blossom Ridge is a small company made it easier. “Since we started from the grotmd up, we could start small.” he said. “We focused on building not only a good model but a scalable one, and getting the right people to manage the processes and take it to another level.”
Overseeing multiple departments came in handy when the California Labor Commissioner’s Office recently asked Blossom Ridge to change the way it compensates employees working under a piece-rate pay stnucture. The change required breaking out time for labor. travel and paid rest breaks. “Something that was ah·eady complex got even more so.” Saruwatari said. “I really had my hands full trying to come up with a solution that would work for the employees and the company.
His solution: mining historical data to come up with general averages suitable for a multitude of scenarios and incorporating them into a salary calculator model. That, Sa1·uwatari said. was one of the biggest challenges he’s had to overcome in his multi-hat role. Now. Saruwatari is focused on growing Blossom Ridge’s existing line of business and exploring other areas such as in-home caregiving and outpatient therapy, while also doing due diligence on companies to partner with or acquire. CEO Ltmsford said Blossom Ridge could not have gotten where it is without Saruwatari. “One thing he’s good at is analyzing new markets,” Lunsford said. “He does financial modeling to find the breakeven point and what we need from a revenue standpoint to make a profit, so we’ll know beforehand what’s requil·ed of us to be profitable.”
Six years of managing rapid-fire growth in the rapidly changing health care industry doesn’t phase Saruwatari, who attributes Blossom Ridge’s success to starting small and always putting the company first when making business decisions. “It’s truly humbling to build a company from the ground up, and I had always taken the things I had working for other companies for granted,” he said. “Now that I’ve seen and experienced what it takes to build something from nothing, I can truly appreciate a well-run organization.”
Education: B.A. in business administration, MBA, both from California State University Sacramento
Best part about being a CFO:”Being able to create a positive impact on the lives for our patients, our patients’ families and our employees.”
Worst part about being a CFO:”Having to deal with all the federal and state rules and regulations.”
Biggest challenge you’ve faced:”Starting this company from the ground up has been the biggest, most challenging and most exciting experience of my life.”
Fantasy career: PGA Tour player
Top item on your bucket list: Travel to Japan
What you would do with a $100 million windfall:”First, I would stash a portion of it away for a rainy day. Next, I would throw a huge bash for our employees and finally, I would reinvest the remainder back into the company.”
Person you would most like to have a business lunch with: Jeff Bezos
Article courtesy of Sacramento Business Journal. All rights reserved.
by Vanessa Richardson, Sacramento Business Journal Correspondent