Franklin company [VRI] creates 125 new jobs
VRI is technology-based health monitoring firm
Story from Tom McKee, WCPO, Cincinnati
FRANKLIN, Ohio - When Andy Schoonover and Chris Hendriksen finished their MBA degrees at Stanford University, the two entrepreneurs decided they wanted to own a cool technology-based company.
However, instead of staying in Silicon Valley, they headed to Franklin, Ohio, and in 2006 bought Valued Relationships, Incorporated (VRI).
The firm provides home health monitoring technology to let the elderly stay in their homes. That includes things such as monitoring blood pressure and blood sugar, plus weight. Help can be summoned if needed.
"We knew that technology had to be a big part of keeping people in their homes as opposed to hospitals or long-term care facilities," said Schoonover, who is the firm's Chief Executive Officer.
Growth has been phenomenal. Revenues for 2012 are expected to be $25 million and could quadruple in the next five years to $100 million. There are now 75,000 clients in all 50 states.
VRI currently has 150 employees, but officials disclosed Tuesday that 125 more will be added over the next several months.
Ohio Governor John Kasich was on hand for the announcement, saying what the company is doing is the future of medicine in this country.
"This is a place that allows people to stay at home, get better health care with more convenience and is lowering our health care costs," he said. "I can't think of anything better."
It was during another jobs announcement last year in Mason that Schoonover first met the governor. He wanted to know how the state could help his business.
Gov. Kasich promised to put him in touch with Ohio Health Care Transformation Coordinator Greg Moody and personally visit the company. Both things have happened and more cooperation is in the works.
"I'm encouraging them to build permanent relations with our community colleges -- with our four-year institutions -- so they can have a constant flow of fresh, young, talented, smart folks who can help them build this business to the next level," he said.
Ohio provided $367,000 worth of job creation tax credits over seven years to help with the expansion. The governor said the return-on-investment for the state will be one year.
"I think about it like it's my own money," said Kasich. "I am not into corporate welfare or handouts or any of this other stuff, but where we can help out and where it's legitimate and where we get the job growth, it's appropriate that we do it."
Kasich said it's another sign to young people that Ohio is cool and they don't have to leave the state to succeed. In fact, he and Jobs Ohio President Mark Kvamme plan to go to Silicon Valley in the near future and they're considering taking Schoonover and Hendriksen with him to help make their pitch.
"We have the work force. We have the technology. We have the capabilities," said Kvamme.
Schoonover said the main reason VRI stayed in Franklin is because of the people in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas who have become employees.
"It feels like family here. It feels like people who really care about our end users," he said. "I don't know if you can replicate that in many parts of the country. You just have that good Midwest feel here."
One of those workers is Care Representative Brooke Schubert, who has been with the firm for about a year. She said she loves being at VRI.
"I don't think of it as just a job," she said. "It's coming in to help people. I think of if it was my grandmother or grandfather. I'm coming in to help them."
Looking ahead, Schoonover said global expansion is a possibility. However, for now he's concentrating on Ohio and its coolness.
"If the Governor allows us the opportunity to continue to build companies here that allow people to advance their career, I think that's the key in keeping Ohio cool or bringing cool people to Ohio and retaining them here," he said.