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Family-owned health services business looks to second generation

Posted in ,   |  June 28, 2023

It can be as simple as light housekeeping or as high-tech as operating a ventilator.

It can involve an hour of help, 24/7 care in a home or accompanying someone out of state to a family wedding.

In more than 30 years, the Millman family has met whatever needs their clients presented, offering a broad range of health care-related services through the family business, a growing franchise of Interim HealthCare.

“We knew with the aging population and senior boom that home care was an industry to get involved in, and that’s proven to be true,” co-founder Paul Millman said. “Now we’re the senior boomers and the aging population we were looking to serve 30 years ago!”

He became connected to the franchise through a co-worker in the plastics industry who was looking to invest. Paul put his business background to work, and his wife, Lori, brought her experience in nursing. After filling in for a couple of years, she joined full time.

“We really took it from the ground up, starting with three office employees and no field employees and a little money in the bank, and here we are,” he said.

“It’s been a lot of patience, tenacity and a willingness to adjust your business model to whatever the environment calls for.”

Interim HealthCare serves patients from pediatrics to geriatrics, specializing in veterans, those supported by Medicare and Medicaid, and those on private pay or other insurance.

A passion for people has been key, Lori added.

“It’s so rewarding to do home care, and we have excellent long-time staff, and we stay with families for a long time,” she said. “We had a client who was with us 14 years. We were in the home 24 hours a day, and there was no family, so we were everything to them.”

Today, the family’s Interim HealthCare business includes more than 500 team members not just in Sioux Falls but Brookings, Fargo and most recently Bismarck, North Dakota. Entering its second generation of leaders, the Millmans are looking toward transition and being nationally recognized for their success.

“We’ve really enjoyed connecting with the Millman family over the last several years and have been impressed by their success in a critical but challenging field,” said Stephanie Larscheid, executive director of the Prairie Family Business Association.

“They’re taking full advantage of the resources our organization offers and have already seen significant benefit from that – and in many ways, they’re just getting started.”

Second generation emerges

Paul and Lori’s three daughters grew up in the business.

“They did everything from stamp envelopes to clean bathrooms, filled in on shifts and drove clients to appointments — all kinds of things,” Lori said.


Abigail Woodford, the oldest, started as a home health aide in high school and college, majoring in exercise science at Augustana University. Her first full-time job was at Dow Rummel Village, but then, the director of operations at Interim HealthCare approached her about working in the family business.

“And 15 years later, I’m still here,” she said. “We had a big opportunity to grow at the time, and I didn’t really ever think of doing anything else. I still get to be with clients and help wherever needed.”

She helped open the Brookings operation six years ago and now serves as vice president and chief operations officer as well as a co-owner since 2015.

“We honestly have a great team,” she said. “Our staff in all offices are amazing.”

Second-oldest daughter Jennalee Taylor pursued a teaching career in lieu of entering the family business, but her husband, Lee, now serves as assistant vice president of operations. His career began in athletics, and he served as a boys basketball coach at Roosevelt High School and associate athletic director at Augustana before joining Interim HealthCare five years ago.

“College athletics can be a lot of nights and weekends, so this gave more work-life balance and just felt like the right time to transition and join the business,” he said. “There are a lot of rewards. You’re around people you can trust who are all bought into the mission, and you’re growing the business together.”

Taylor has focused on supporting the company’s North Dakota expansion as well as its growth into offering supplemental staff support to a variety of organizations. Interim HealthCare’s team has stepped in to temporarily fill needs at everything from behavioral health centers to meatpacking plants.

“We became screeners during the pandemic and have continued to supplement in areas like an occupational medicine clinic, filling in when nurses are on vacation or during staff transitions,” Taylor said. “The growth has happened kind of organically, expedited by COVID, and that’s what originally brought us into North Dakota. So now we’re adding home care services, which is our passion, so we’re excited to serve more people there.”

Youngest daughter Emily Marsh is the most recent addition to the family business. Her degree is in speech language pathology, and she supported clients at Children’s Home Society for many years before transitioning into specializing in social media for Interim HealthCare.

“I loved working with kids, it fulfilled me, but then Mom and Dad and Abby began talking about succession planning, the business hit its 30-year anniversary and something just hit me that I wanted to be part of it instead of coming in here and there,” Marsh said.

“I felt something tugging my heart – God was saying to help carry on the family legacy. And it’s been good, with a lot of excitement and challenges.”

Planning for the future

Interim HealthCare is part of a national organization – the Millman family is one of 350 franchised offices – and part of the larger company Caring Brands International.

That brings solid support for the operation. But the family found a big additional resource through the Prairie Family Business Association.

“We’ve made great strides in our succession plan, and I credit the Prairie Family Business Association with 100 percent of that progress,” Paul said.

They went on the family business retreat at the Paul Nelson Farm two years ago, “And that was epic, life-changing,” he continued. “For the first time ever, we got away, and we had a dedicated facilitator, and it was three days of talking about the business and being very open and honest. I wanted to do it again the next year because it was so beneficial for us.”

Now, “we have a plan,” he continued. “We have a timeline, and I think that helps Gen Two know that Mom and Dad are going to be out of here and gives a light at the end of the tunnel so they know we’re going to step aside and trust them with the business.”

The family also connected with an EOS implementer through the Prairie Family Business Association to help them begin working with the Entrepreneurial Operating System.

“That’s been another life-changing accountability instrument for us,” Paul said. “Abby is now in an Affinity Peer Group, I’ve signed on to be in one, and Emily has expressed interest in one. We also go to the annual conference to learn and network, and it’s just been completely beneficial.”

Woodford agreed.

“It’s been really good,” she said. “We have a really good peer group, and I look forward to it every other month. It’s just great to find out what’s working in other businesses and what’s not and get feedback. I really love it.”

The second generation also is mindful of growth opportunities, including new geographies and service lines.

“It’s about finding out where there’s a need for what we do and what makes sense and where we have the capability for growth,” Taylor said.

Their success also is being recognized on a national stage, most recently with the 2022 Leroy E. Dettman Founder’s Award from Interim HealthCare, presented to someone who best personifies the entrepreneurial spirit with the dedication, discipline and direction necessary to consistently achieve profitable growth and expansion from year to year.

“It’s just validation of what we do and how we run our business,” Paul said. “And now I just always look to Abby and Lee and Emily and say the future is up to you.”

The Prairie Family Business Association helps family businesses thrive through generations by providing a resource network for family business success. The association is a key outreach center of the University of South Dakota Beacom School of Business.