Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NewGround Grows by Diversifying beyond Banks; Chesterfield Company's Health Care Division Has Helped It Add 25 Employees This Year

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NewGround Grows by Diversifying beyond Banks; Chesterfield Company's Health Care Division Has Helped It Add 25 Employees This Year

Article excerpt

In the wake of the financial crisis that halted most banks' expansion, NewGround, a company that designs and builds bank branches, took some emergency steps to ensure its survival.

The Chesterfield-based firm - which has in the last century designed or built more than 12,000 bank branches throughout North America - branched out to health care. In the past 12 months, NewGround won contracts to build two urgent care centers and design a free-standing emergency room, and its president and CEO, Kevin Blair, sees more opportunities ahead to parlay the company's expertise in banking into health care.

"Health care is going to be more retail-oriented," Blair said. "Traditionally, health care is a very clinical-based approach and not very patient friendly or convenient.

"Where we see health care going is, it's going to be convenient, branded and patient-centric."

Most urgent care centers that have popped up in recent years are either single-office locations or part of networks that have just a handful of locations, Blair said. "There's a push to build a nationwide network, much like Walgreens, where a patient's history is on file and is transferable."

Last year, NewGround's leaders began sensing opportunities to use what they have learned in banking to provide expertise to the burgeoning urgent care center industry. In January, the company launched a new health care division to grow the business.

The 2008 financial crisis - which resulted in many banks pulling back on capital expenditures - took a toll on NewGround, a privately held company that provides architectural, engineering and construction management services, among other offerings. Its annual revenue peaked in 2007 at $111 million, when banks were adding branches at breakneck speed.

"Then the market started to unravel in the financial services industry," Blair said. …

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