Nick Stavros, age 39, CEO of Community Medical Services, presided over the recent sale of the OTP platform to the private equity firm, Clearview Capital. The sale relieved the inactive owners of their equity in the company, and left Mr. Stavros as the largest individual owner. With Clearview leaving him at the helm as CEO, no operations are expected to change within the Arizona-based company.
Even though the OTP system began as a family business, Mr. Stavros did not grow up in the industry. “Five years ago, I didn’t know what methadone treatment was,” he told AT Forum. Prior to joining the company, he spent eight years in the military, and then left his position as an Infantry Captain and attended UCLA, where he earned an MBA. His parents, who founded the company in 1983, called him soon after and asked him to join the business to help them prepare the company for a sale. “This was in 2012,” he said. He was on the job for nine months, and found out that he had a strong passion for treating addiction.
So he changed course. Instead of prepping the company to sell to a larger organization, he decided he’d rather stay with it and partner with a private equity firm to buy out the other owners—family members and non-family members. “With the intention of staying with the company, I spent four years building a platform to grow from, to attract investors.” He partnered with Clearview Capital after meeting with numerous interested investors, because “they have an outstanding reputation in this space,” he said. “They’re pretty hands off and their values aligned most with ours.”
“I love what I’m doing,” said Mr. Stavros, asked why he is staying involved. “From an entrepreneurial perspective, this is an opportunity to build an amazing business. We are very patient-focused; We live by our values; I do a mission, vision, values presentation with every new employee and a weekly online town-hall meeting with the whole company. We make decisions based on our values and we are all impassioned by the uphill battle of our cause and by the tenacity of our patients in their recovery. There aren’t a lot of companies out there that continue to grow while staying true to their values.”
Under his tenure, Community Medical Services has grown from 6-14 clinics in 4 states and from one Medicaid contract to more than 15. “Our goal was to be cash-flow neutral every year, investing every penny back into the company,” he said. “By the end of 2018, we’re going to be at 21 organic clinics and the private equity funds will allow us to potentially add on an additional 10-20 acquisitions. The goal is to be treating 60,000 patients by the end of 2022.” Currently, the program treats more than 5,000 patients.
There is still a shortage of slots nationwide. “One of the problems is that there is mostly just a consolidation taking place,” he said. “The growth rate of new OTPs isn’t coming close to paralleling the growth rate of the epidemic.”
Finally, Mr. Stavros seconded other leaders who said it’s important for OTPs to get involved in their communities and to seek out STR funds and other new forms of funding. “We are the largest recipient in the state of Arizona for STR funds,” he said. With those funds, the program has started the country’s first 24/7 OTP, a number of Medication Units, and a vibrant peer support program.
As with many other advocates in this space, Mr. Stavros has a personal connection to this field. His sister died from a heroin overdose when she was 21.