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Timing: Good Faith & Good Fortune (with Josh Robertson)

September 13th, 2023

Listen to the Bigger Than Business Podcast’s interview with Josh Robertson on your favorite podcast providers!

How do you go from making $19,000 a year to being a vendor for the White House? How do you weather troubled times to preserve your family and stay afloat personally and professionally? What does it take to start a business at 22 and grow it into a $60 Million company?

Listen as our guest, Josh Robertson, shares his path of entrepreneurship from start-up to multiple thriving businesses, what it’s like to partner with a parent, and how focusing on the needs of others can prove that life can be Bigger Than Business!

Luck: Just One Part of Good Timing

By Jeff Holler

‘Timing is everything’ the old adage claims. However, it’s more than mere luck. It means knowing when to dig in and when to let go. Josh Robertson is a case study in getting the timing right.

In our interview, we explore how Josh founded and then sold a hospice-focused medical equipment business called National HME, and then took over a company just before sales exploded. Together they serve as a perfect example combining insight, planning, character and good luck.  

How Big Should We Get?

“One of the things I wanted to figure out as part of my MBA,” Josh recalls, “was, do we keep National HME focused just in the state of Texas and have a nice business there? Or do we go and get an infusion of capital and grow the business into other states? We felt we could set a new standard of care and make a difference for hospice patients, not just in Texas, but around the United States. So that was the path we chose.”

Following the plan he presented for his MBA, Josh sought out a private capital infusion starting in 2010. The company grew rapidly between 2012 and 2015, experiencing yearly growth of 25-35%. It expanded from 20 locations in six states to 50 locations in fifteen states. By the time it sold in 2015, it had nearly $60 million in revenue, partnered with over 500 hospice programs, had served over 500,000 patients, and employed nearly 500 people.

Timing: Planning and Hard Work

On such a rapid growth trend, he could have kept the company even longer. How did he know the timing was right to sell?

The management team decided in 2013 to take 24 months and get the company in tip-top shape to be as attractive as possible when the timing was right to sell.

“We called it ‘Perfect in 24’ and we looked at everything from financial metrics, operational metrics, and a growth perspective. We were just relentless and laser focused around perfecting this model within two years.”

Then, two factors got the attention of the leadership team and told them the timing was right to pursue a sale.

  1. Competitive Environment. “We were kind of the front runners of the business. Really, no one was doing what we were doing. But there were a few organizations that were chasing after us, and they didn’t do it exactly how we did it. We had physical service locations around the United States. They took a different approach to providing medical equipment. The competition was changing the competitive landscape.”
  2. Buyer Environment. “During that time [valuation] multiples were really high. And it was just a very good time to transact. So about six months prior, we started the sale process and ended up transacting in July of 2015.”


Timing: Good Faith & Good Fortune

The second example of timing that we discussed resulted from both strong character and good luck.

In 2018, Josh made an angel investment and joined the board of eMist, a manufacturer of an electrostatic misting device. Similar to devices used in inkjet printers, agriculture and auto painting, this was unique in that it applied disinfectant to prevent infections. 

By December of that year, eMist was out of cash and was about to fold. Josh had to decide whether to buy the company for the cost of its debt, for just pennies on the dollar. Aside from the bargain, what compelled him do it?

  1. A Promise. “Number one, my Dad and I held the guarantee on the line of credit. We had made a guarantee and a promise to that bank that we would pay them back. And we believed wholeheartedly that we would be able to do it.
  2. Integrity. “Secondly, we had invested quite a bit of our own money in this business. But also people that I knew personally who trusted me when I was getting them to invest in the business. So, I wanted to try to make that right as well.
  3. Patience. “Thirdly, being in healthcare, we invested in that technology because infections are a big issue, especially hospital-acquired infections. eMist was a little bit before its time, but I really felt like there was a need that we could fill. We just had to be a little patient and didn’t want to give up on that business just yet.”

Josh took over eMist in 2019, and within a year it introduced a hand-held sanitizing device in addition to their industrial backpack sprayer.

Then the COVID-19 global pandemic struck and all the world could think about was disinfection. Overnight they were fielding calls from the largest companies in the world and even the Department of Defense. Sales skyrocketed from $1M to $65M in just 12 months.

You will want to listen to our interview and hear about:

  • The late-night call Josh received from the White House.
  • The heartbreaking story of a family in need that prompted him and his wife to found their non-profit, Project 4031.
  • Revitalizing another 20-year old business to make a difference in the healthcare market.
  • Teaming with the right angel investors.

It is a fascinating tale of how God rewards the industrious and goodhearted.