Amedisys is moving 33 top employees out of its Baton Rouge headquarters to a new office in Nashville, Tennessee, because it needs to expand its capabilities in some areas and the company’s CEO said they “couldn’t do it in Baton Rouge.”
CEO Paul Kusserow said the decision will make it easier for the home health and hospice providers to recruit certain executives in a more centrally located area where the health care industry is growing.
New Orleans had been under consideration for the new office.
While Baton Rouge will remain the headquarters for the home health care company and the center of activity for general financial functions, the heads of some departments dealing with key functions such as managed care, legal, risk bundling, government and information technology will be based out of Nashville, Kusserow said.
“Our executive team will be moving back and forth between offices, so there’s not going to be a huge difference in terms of our presence in Baton Rouge,” said Kusserow, who said he will split time between the Baton Rouge headquarters and the Nashville office. Ronnie LaBorde, the company’s chief financial officer who served as interim CEO for part of 2014, will remain in Baton Rouge.
Amedisys has about 410 employees working out of its corporate offices on South Sherwood Forest Boulevard. About 80 other people work out of the company’s two care centers in Baton Rouge. There are nearly 900 employees in Louisiana.
The move follows a familiar pattern for national companies with headquarters in Baton Rouge.
In 2008, Raising Cane’s moved the bulk of its administrative offices to Dallas as a hotbed for the restaurant industry in order to better recruit executives for the fast-growing chicken fingers chain. The company has kept its headquarters in downtown Baton Rouge.
Last month, Albemarle, a specialty chemical company, said it is evaluating the possibility of moving its corporate offices in the wake of its $6 billion acquisition of New Jersey-based Rockwood Holdings. Officials cited the large size of the deal as transformative and said Albemarle is a completely different company than when it made Baton Rouge its headquarters in 2008.
Running counter to the trend, Brown & Root Industrial Services recently announced plans to move 50 executives from Houston to Baton Rouge by the end of 2016 for its headquarters. The company was formed by Baton Rouge-based Bernhard Capital Partners combining its newly acquired Wink Engineering firm with Houston-based KBR Inc.’s industrial services group. The combined company employs 6,000 worldwide.
Amedisys’ move doesn’t come as a surprise.
Kusserow said in an interview with The Advocate in June that Amedisys was considering building a satellite office for its top executives in either Nashville or New Orleans.
He said both cities were “big meccas for health care” and Amedisys wanted to access the talent concentrated there.
Kusserow said at the time there were certain types of employees the company has difficulty drawing to Baton Rouge.
“I’ve worked in several organizations where we have people in different places, so I’m not too concerned about that. I think having people in two places is fine,” Kusserow said. “And we like the idea of being able to recruit some executives that we weren’t able to get here.”
In the end, Amedisys selected Nashville as the home for the satellite executive office. “We love New Orleans, and it’s a key market for us,” he said.
Several factors led to the selection, such as the fact that Tennessee is a “huge market” for Amedisys and near other important states, such as Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Pennsylvania.
“From an access perspective, it’s more centrally located, and it has a good airport,” Kusserow said.
Health care is the largest and fastest-growing employer in Nashville, with 110,000 people directly working in the industry, according to figures from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.
The region is home of 16 publicly traded health care companies, including HCA, the world’s largest operator of for-profit medical facilities; Community Health Systems, which operates about 200 hospitals nationwide; and LifePoint Health, which operates community hospitals and regional health systems in 20 states, including Louisiana.
“Nashville is the place to be if you’re in health care,” Kusserow said. “A Nashville office is an important step toward our goal of being the leading provider of health care in the home.”
All of the health care workers in Nashville means Amedisys will have access to the talent it needs.
Tennessee is giving Amedisys incentives to open offices in Nashville, but Kusserow couldn’t discuss them because the details are still being worked out.
A temporary Nashville office is set to open Thursday, and the permanent downtown office will open in October. The majority of the executive team will be in Nashville by October, with all of the employees moving by the end of the year.
Amedisys, which was founded in Baton Rouge in 1982, has more than 395 home health and hospice locations in 34 states, annual revenue of about $1.2 billion and more than 13,000 employees.
Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_The Advocate.