Jack Headlee left Creative Press, an Evansville graphic design and printing firm, in 1985. The then-57-year-old Jack rented space in the Riverside Historic District near Downtown to open his graphic design business. The home at 10 Adams Ave. lasted long enough to provide the company a name, but after two years, Jack moved operations to 1112 S.E. First St. — an 1894-built historic home that at one time housed a fraternity for Indiana State University-Evansville (the precursor to the University of Southern Indiana) — just a few blocks from 10 Adams Ave.
His son, Jon Headlee, graduated from the University of Evansville in 1991. Armed with a marketing degree, Jon already owned and operated Precision Lawn Care, a venture he began as a teenager. Then, his business was small — Jon and another employee with a handful of private and commercial clients, which eventually grew to include two crews of eight employees who also installed Christmas lights in the winter until Jon sold the business in 2000 — but lawn care wasn’t Jon’s passion. He told his dad, “I want to wear a tie; I want to put a suit on.” Jack liked that his son owned a company; he thought Jon didn’t need a tie.
Undeterred, Jon gave his resume to the Ten Adams sales director and asked for networking advice. The director recognized Jon’s enthusiasm and told Jack to hire his son as a Ten Adams sales representative. Over dinner at an upscale restaurant, Jack informed a tie-clad Jon he was hired. Two years later, Jon was president. “I had no business, probably, being president of the firm at that time,” Jon admits. “Because I was the son, I was the president.”
Now, Jon leads 15 employees, and as he says, Ten Adams is not his father’s company any more. While graphic design still is a vital component of Jon’s business, the Ten Adams focus is helping healthcare clients with strategy, marketing, and company culture.
The shift from advertising expert to all-encompassing healthcare strategist came 10 years ago when Jon hired a consultant who determined Ten Adams possessed the resources to help healthcare providers. One major reason was Rachel Forbes, a longtime healthcare professional who joined Ten Adams in the 1990s until she retired last year. Ten Adams also had numerous portfolio pieces for hospitals. “We had some work to show off our abilities,” says Jon, “and I had someone who could walk and talk health care.”
That talk includes this premise: Advertising is effective, and if a hospital claims it’s the best, it better be the best. Ten Adams isn’t placing a false façade on a healthcare organization with cool ads; Jon and staff are improving how that company operates and showcasing those upgrades to the public. In its 25th year, Ten Adams does that with eight hospital clients in four states, including St. Mary’s.
As Joseph Miller says, “If the organization doesn’t honestly reflect the image it portrays, the advertising simply will not have its desired impact.” Miller is the vice president of strategic planning and marketing at Trover Health System, based in Madisonville, Ky. Trover is more than 50 years old, and four years ago, E. Berton Whitaker became Trover’s president and CEO. Recently, Thomson Reuters named Trover one of the top 100 hospitals in the United States based on their healthcare services before Ten Adams helped them. Though successful, Whitaker knew improvements were possible, Miller says.
Ten Adams arrived at Trover, the largest employer in its six-county service area, in 2008. They interviewed Trover’s board of directors, physicians, and patients. Ten Adams employees spent time with nurses as they made rounds. Their third-party observation was the hospital’s “opportunity to define Trover in the marketplace,” Miller says.
That opportunity meant Trover needed not only to market itself to patients but also to its employees. Ten Adams recommended the Pathway Champions initiative. They recruited a group of 18 department heads, supervisors, and nurses — a team Miller calls “fire starters,” who were “charged and empowered to bring change.” The idea was to improve morale, and Miller says it worked: He saw it in the way employees carried themselves. The Kentucky Hospital Association saw it, too, in the way Trover health professionals interacted with patients, and the organization presented Trover a quality award for patient safety in late May.
The way Ten Adams helped Trover shows one example of how Ten Adams helps clients, and 25 years after Jack started the business, his son knows there still is work to do — even though the passing decades have brought numerous changes in the healthcare industry. Most recently, when President Barack Obama signed the new healthcare bill, Jon knew his business still would be relevant. “How much money hospitals get and how much hospitals get reimbursed probably is still unknown, but there still is a need,” Jon says. “The way services are delivered may be altered going forward, but there still is a huge percentage of the population that is going to be utilizing healthcare services more and more in the next 10, 15, or 20 years.”
Ten Adams recently unveiled a new Web site. To learn more about the locally headquartered healthcare strategist, visit www.tenadams.com.