As General Patton once said, success is best measured by how high you bounce after hitting rock bottom. Billie Dragoo, President and CEO of RepuStaff and RepuCare, has experienced both highs and lows, to emerge as one of the most powerful women entrepreneurs today.
Dragoo’s road to entrepreneurship started in 1985, when she got divorced from the man she married straight out of high school at the age of 18. In her mid 30s, the newly divorced mother of two (12 and 8 years old) had to think of ways to support her family, especially since she was not getting any financial support from her ex husband.
After researching the top jobs for women, she decided to enter the field of recruiting. She went to business school, and then joined Century Personnel in Carmel, Indiana. Her work involved job placement for physicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, among other health personnel. Soon after, Dragoo was the top performer in her company and made a good living as a top recruiter.
Buoyed by her success in the recruitment field and her growing affinity and knowledge of the health care business, Dragoo decided to start her own business. In 1995, she started her medical staffing business Repucare with a partner, which provides healthcare staffing and services to corporations and government entities. Her goal was to provide quality health care staffing beyond simply focusing on costs, regulations and limited services.
From its humble start as home-based business, Dragoo quickly grew RepuCare, providing licensed physical and occupational therapists on a temporary basis to hospitals and clinics in central Indiana. Her business thrived that in one year, she moved the operations out of her home to a professional office.However, her success was short-lived. Four years after startup, a major regulation revamp changed Medicare reimbursements and nearly wiped out her company. Revenue was down by 70 percent. To survive, Dragoo embarked on massive cutbacks, reducing overhead and salaries, including her own, and renegotiated vendor contracts. She also took out a loan and bought out her partner.
Dragoo realized that the only way to survive a regulatory change was to find new ways to operate her business. She embarked on providing on-site rehabilitation services for injured workers directly on the employer’s site. Her quick thinking saved the business, which emerged stronger after this major debacle.
In 2004, she again changed the way her business operated when her margins started to decline. Instead of a therapist, she deployed a nurse instead in an on-site clinic to provide for the urgent health care needs of employees. She split her business into two, RepuCare http://www.repucare.com which focuses on central Indiana and provides onsite health care services, and RepuStaff http://www.repustaff.com which provides allied health staffing for healthcare providers, schools and correctional facilities.
Today, both of her businesses are thriving and Dragoo has received a lot of recognition for her achievements and community service work. Dragoo has overcome a lot of challenges in her life to become the successful self-made businesswoman that she is today.