The company launched in 2014. My wife is not as adventurous as I am — I’m a high-adrenaline-seeking person — so it took about three years for me to convince her that we could do this successfully. She needed to process the information first. Then we jointly made the decision to start. I needed her on board so we could move forward because I didn’t know anything about the industry at the time.
How did you come up with the name of the company?
It’s the acronym for my wife, Alexandra Marie Perez.
Talk about the business and the value it brings to customers.
We’re significantly different. The model within this industry has been for everything to get filtered through the doctors. So the doctors, in essence, have control over the number of patients you have and when you receive them. If you have a run-in with any of these doctors, they can chokehold you and not provide you with any customers or patients.
Instead, our company goes straight to the consumer, which is a different model within our industry. We have used technology on the internet to facilitate the introductions. We go meet our patients where they hang out on social media. We let them know we’re here and that we offer them value. If they think we’re a good fit for them, we provide them with the services they need.
Another way we’re different is that our therapists go to the homes of the patients, which is unique. We’re trying to fulfill a need. We noticed that a lot of people who have special needs children have more than one child. The special needs child usually has siblings who do not need the same type of care. To get therapy for the special needs child, the parent sometimes has to bring the whole group to the clinic. It’s just not practical for them. We address that by providing the therapist within their home.
Talk about the culture of the organization. What’s it like working there?
Today we have about 150 therapists and about 12 executives or clerical people on our team. The therapy work has the potential to involve a lot of travel for the therapists. We try to be efficient with them and allow them to give therapy to their neighbors, or those within three ZIP codes of where they live. They’re more efficient and also they’re more invested because they’re working directly in the community where they’re living.
There’s a very transient culture within the industry. We looked at the challenges I saw that was happening to my wife when she was a therapist, and then we try to address those challenges within our organization.
We have to keep in mind that our team members don’t get to see each other because they’re out in the field providing therapy. We try to create a sense of community that the industry lacks. We hold a “town hall’ type of meeting once a month, social events twice a year, and mandatory meetings three times a year.
Talk about the company’s competitive edge.
We find most of our clients by referral, from parents talking to other parents. One way we have a competitive edge is the way we run the company. All our team members are remote, so we don’t have an office. We were remote even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to work virtually. Another advantage we have implemented technology to run the company, which is fundamental to what goes on here at AMP.
What are the benefits to operating in Florida for your future growth?
The lifestyle is significant. If we had started in New York, for example, the challenges would be significant because of traveling in the snow in the winter months. We don’t have to deal with all of that. It’s conducive to our business model of taking therapy to the patients.
The cost of operation here is significantly lower because of the lack of a state income tax. And I think people in Florida are just happier because they get to spend time outside in the sun. Most people who live here made a choice to come to Florida, so they want to be here.
Describe some major challenges you’ve found in growing your business. What keeps you up at night as a business owner?
The nature of our business is very transient, so we have to make sure we create a culture that is conducive to the longevity of our therapists. Our patients never leave once they come to us. We treat them from age 0 to 21, and usually, when the children get to 21 their parents are asking us to treat them for a bit longer. They just don’t want to leave. But that’s not the case with therapists. A lot of them will come into the industry not understanding the challenges of the job and of traveling to the clients, and they are working as 1099 contractors because we can’t offer medical benefits. They also go through life changes, like getting married.
What keeps me up at night is we have a very large contract with the government, with Medicaid, and it keeps changing its rates — and that does not mean increasing them. It has been becoming more challenging as the government tries to restrict the amount of treatment that this population receives.
What is your proudest moment as the CEO?
I’m proud of our team and what we have done to build them up so they can help us build our company. I’m proud of my wife to have been able to take on this role of entrepreneurship because it’s not necessarily in her bones, but she has done a fantastic job as the COO.
What does it mean to you to be selected as an honoree for the GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch?
It has been great to meet all the CEOs, the rest of the nominees. The caliber of companies is impressive. To know that all of these companies are level two companies and out of 800 that applied this year, we made this group of about 50 is very impressive.
What do you think this means to your employees?
I think our team is very proud, impressed and maybe surprised. Since we are all based in our homes instead of an office, everybody just works and gets the job done. Sometimes they aren’t aware of the magnitude of the company and what we do.
What’s your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? Was there something you wish you had known when you were starting out?
I don’t know, maybe if I had known about this challenging journey, I wouldn’t have started. There is a lot of risks involved, for sure. But If I were talking to someone who was going to start a business, I would ask them, Why didn’t you start before? Because that’s what I tell myself. How come it took me so long to do it? We should have started earlier and we would be a lot further along.
My point is that if you have curiosity about entrepreneurship, the moment to start is immediate. You don’t have to think about it. You have to get your ducks in a row so it can happen, but you should do it sooner rather than later. And find a mentor, someone who has already done the journey and is willing to help you along without you creating any threat, and someone who can be unbiased when providing you with advice.
You build these companies with a purpose and you hope they do well, and we weren’t very ambitious when we started. In reality, I just wanted my wife to have a full roster of patients for herself so she could work for herself and didn’t have to work for anybody else. That was the magnitude of our goal. We never set up to build a company that was going to grow to the size that we have.