Health Care

Despite cuts, Schumacher ahead of hiring goals

by Leslie Turk

Two rounds of layoffs in a month's time, the loss of about 73 jobs, does not jeopardize the incentives Schumacher Group got from the state for expansion because it continues to offset those cuts with hires in other areas. Emergency medical staffing and management company Schumacher Group's announcement that it would expand its local headquarters and hire 600 people over a five-year period was one of the biggest local business stories of 2011. In exchange for creating those jobs and investing $19 million in expanded headquarters facilities and specialized training space, Louisiana Economic Development offered the Lafayette-based company a customized package of incentives: a performance-based grant from the Mega-Project Development Fund to reimburse 50 percent of the cost of expanding headquarters facilities, up to a maximum state contribution of $9 million. Schumacher Group also is getting hiring and training assistance from LED's Louisiana FastStart program and is utilizing Louisiana's Quality Jobs program. It's also eligible for the state's enhanced Digital Media & Software Tax Credit.

Schumacher Group founder Dr. Kip Schumacher

Already this year, the company has made two rounds of cuts - slashing 41 jobs May 1 when it eliminated a collections division and 32 this week - which may have some people thinking it's not living up to its side of the deal. But that's not the case, says Lafayette Economic Development President and CEO Gregg Gothreaux.

"Schumacher Group is well ahead of hiring expectations that were set forth following the company's expansion announcement in 2011," says Gothreaux, who says he has maintained ongoing communication with the company. With major changes on the horizon for the health care industry, the company's announcement Wednesday that it is realigning its strategy was not unexpected, he says.

"The entire health care industry is going through rapid and dynamic change. Schumacher Group is not immune from these industry challenges," Schumacher President Gary Keller said in announcing the cuts Wednesday. "We are moving swiftly to adapt as a matter of good business practice."

In addition to tightening many of its policies, processes, and business protocols, the company said it is restructuring its workforce, resulting in the elimination of an anticipated 32 jobs throughout the country, 10 of which are in Louisiana. This represents an overall 1.7 percent reduction in the total national employee base of 1,885 people (713 in-state and 570 in Acadiana), who support 3,000 physicians and midlevel practitioners, serving patients in 28 states, the company said. The May layoffs represented a 2 percent reduction, according to the company.

Schumacher President Gary Keller

Since its July 2011 agreement with the state, Schumacher Group has added 287 net new hires, remaining on track for its commitment to add an average of 350 new in-state jobs by the end of 2014 and meet the five-year goal of 600 new hires by 2017.

Schumacher last year ranked No. 3 on ABiz's list of the top 50 privately held companies in Acadiana and may inch up this year, as revenues increased 15 percent from 2011 to 2012, rising from $542 million to $624 million.

Terminated employees will receive a separation package, resource assistance, and other support necessary to find work, the company said. These employees also will be eligible to apply for other open positions within the company as it continues to hire additional workers as part of its realignment strategy.

Founded in Opelousas in 1994 by ER doc Kip Schumacher, Schumacher Group is the third-largest emergency medicine staffing and management company in the country. It is headquartered in Lafayette at 200 Corporate Blvd.