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Steve Line understands time flies when owning a company. From mapping out business plans, ensuring customer satisfaction and expanding, the years come and go at a whirlwind pace.

Recently, Line, co-owner of Columbus Physical Therapy with his business partner, Rusty Kuhl, reflected on the establishment coming up on the 20-year mark of local ownership in May 2019.

“I’ve been emotionally and spiritually invested in this for 20 years," said Line, who officially became a co-owner of the business on May 3, 1999. “About five years in, I remember thinking about it, how someday I was going to wake up tomorrow and be 50 or 60 or whatever, and pass this 20-25 year mark, and wonder what it would feel like. And a few months ago it just dawned on me, 'like man, we are there.'"

After buying out a previous owner of Columbus Physical Therapy in 2003 and landing Kuhl as a business associate, the duo hit the ground running in regard to providing therapy needs to an assortment of patients in the greater Columbus Area.

With hard work came the recognition of being one of the top physical therapy clinics in the area, winning numerous Best of Columbus awards, as well as expanding business locations to Humphrey and Norfolk in 2012 and 2016, respectively.

The three clinics as a whole book more than 25,000 appointments annually, Line said.

Success wasn't built overnight; it’s something that elevated from a solid foundation being formed, Line said. This meant bringing in the right team and implementing the best treatment methods and modalities possible. It also meant tweaking the business model.

“My No. 1 goal was always to expand and see how big we could get,” Line said of when he took over the operation. “I wanted to deliver a level of care that was unique from a customer service standpoint.”

To accomplish this, Line and Kuhl started offering same-day service --there wasn't any waiting around for an appointment. The owners also made themselves available for in-home patient treatment if the circumstances required such action.

“We wanted to produce, we wanted to get people through faster if they wanted to come now. Let’s find a way to make that happen,” he said. “We opened up same-day appointments, we started having extended hours, we started some in-home therapy. A guy called us one day and said, ‘do you deliver?’ and I said, 'yeah, I guess I can come to your house.' And it turned out to be a really good thing.”

This service, he added, is specifically for patients who are unable to make it to the clinic on their own.

Line is adamant a system-based business ensures success. A system that incorporates monthly training and coaching and employee assessment. Having all 25 employees encompassing the owners’ three business locations all being on the same page, operating under the same understandings working toward the common goal of providing top-tier therapy and customer service.

“It really helps with consistency and making sure that as a group and as a team we are all very similar in what we do so that when people walk into our offices they know exactly what they are going to get,” Kuhl said. “We want people to know that they are going to get that same level of service and commitment in their health and well-being that they have come to know and expect of us over these past 20 years."

Columbus Physical Therapy covers the full gamut of therapies to help its customers reduce pain and have a better quality of life. This is one of the beauties of physical therapy, Line said.

“After an injury, there’s plenty of research that shows that sedentary activity or bed rest or doing nothing even for a very short amount of time will cause that injury to prolong and take an exponential amount of time to get better," he said. "So, the faster someone starts with it the better.”

Some patients neglect treatment because of health insurance concerns, but Line noted his business works will all patients to provide the best, most affordable options available.

“We actually do a really good job of consulting and letting people know where they are at (with their insurance deductibles) and really make sure that we avoid any surprises for them,” Line said. “We let people know where they are at with their deductibles and how we can work with them.”

One patient pleased with her treatment is Carolyn Petersen, who’s been receiving treatment for spinal stenosis (back pain). She learned about what Columbus Physical Therapy offers from a recent clinic she attended at the business.

“I’ve been to different places and I really needed help,” she said. “I’ve had back pain for quite a few years and this is the best treatment I’ve had on my back ever. I’m on my second week and it’s just great, I’ve never been treated like this before.”

Chiming in from Petersen’s right was Donna Sizemore, who has been receiving treatment in the wake of a broken right ankle. She currently is in the process of her second, six-week therapy sessions, she said.

With a laugh, she echoed Petersen’s sentiments.

“It’s honestly so great here, I just love to come here,” she said. “I actually think of things to come for.”

Sam Pimper is the news editor for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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