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Posted: Dec 13, 2005 11:27

The People Behind
The Vision

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A case study of how one start-up came together
By: Kathy Nussberger

With a projected opening date of January 16, 2006, Chief Operating Officer Brad Gerrard, Chief Executive Officer Bob Marshall and Clinical Director David Blackwell, of Academy at Canyon Creek in Springville, UT, shared the common vision and goals of the men behind the program.

With five partners including Bob and Brad, they have learned from experience that limiting the speed in which the program grows is a major goal because even when the organizational structure is financially sound, there could be a breakdown in the milieu. "Programmatically, we have more than 75 years of combined experience," Bob explained. "Basically our vision is to accept kids who need an out-of-home placement to get back on track and reenter the mainstream without moving too fast on the growth process."

Brad Gerrard said because of his background in the industry, he will oversee intake and admissions as well as marketing, plant operations and the dietary component of the program. "I have been in the healthcare industry since 1986 and spent most of my career working for a number of behavioral healthcare corporations as Director of Business Development and interim CEO. Over the years I have worked with a variety of talented physicians, therapists and school professionals in designing successful models of treatment for youth."

He added that in the early 1990's he worked for Pine Crest Hospital, now known as North Idaho Behavioral Health. "At that time we received a number of kids from the former CEDU programs who needed a more intensive level of treatment. I was impressed with the programs and the people, and over the years of working with them I became interested in this avenue of help for youth. I have not looked back. My own five children have had their own struggles in growing up and it has been great to have the assistance of many friends, professional and non-professional who were there with a helpful hand. My family and I owe these people a great debt. We are very excited about the future of the Academy at Canyon Creek. I love what I'm doing and love who I am working with. What a great combination."

After learning of the plans for Academy at Canyon Creek, Bob was intrigued by the philosophy of the program and the physical plant, and chose to become a partner. "I was born and raised in Utah so it gave me an opportunity to come home and be the CEO over a nice facility. In all of my experience, this facility is by far the most spectacular physically. We have the chance to build a great team. So far this is probably the best management team I've ever put together."

He explained that his career started in juvenile court administration; then he went on to work as a juvenile probation officer with kids in Clark County Nevada. "I finished my undergraduate work at the University of Utah in recreation administration and received my Masters degree in Special Education with an emphasis in childhood development from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I have over 35 years of experience working with youth and was initially trained in the Boy's Town Positive Teaching Model and later certified as a trainer. I worked for the state of Nevada in a wide variety of fields including as a 'teaching parent.' I entered the private network in the 80's and helped to build the Willow Springs Center in Reno, NV." In 1990, he transitioned into an administrative position at Willow Springs and from then until now, he has overseen the development of several residential schools. "I have been a VP over 13 RTC - school facilities for Sterling Healthcare; CEO over several psychiatric and residential facilities throughout the country; and most recently Cedar Springs in Colorado."

The remaining three partners include Larry Linde founder of Heritage Youth Services, Kent Nelson, a business man, and Jeff Kronenburger, the original land owner who had for several years had the idea of using the land for a program. Brad said he and Bob heard about it and joined the partnership in June 2005. "Bob and I along with the other core management team members will run the day-to-day operations of the program. The other partners are not going to actively participate in the running of the program."

Prior to joining Academy at Canyon Creek, Clinical Director David Blackwell, was the director of chemical dependency at Provo Canyon School and supervised the therapists. "In dealing with behavioral issues, our treatment will be based on a positive or logical approach rather than a punishment or negative consequence model."

Bob said this management team has the unique opportunity of creating a program that is designed by people in the business for the specific type of kid they have in mind. "With our combined histories, each member of our management team has been through the licensing process before with other facilities. Some of it is new and some is old hat, but no major obstacles are expected because this facility is being built from the ground up with only one purpose in mind, this program."

In an effort to maintain their milieu through a slow growth process, Bob Marshall and Brad Gerrard requested initial licensing approval for 64 kids despite their capability to house 128. "Again, the milieu is and should be the main focus in any program's growth process. When a program reaches the point where it can handle additional student growth in terms of sufficient staffing as well as the program components, that is the time they should request that their licensing reflect that growth. We hope to have the licensing completed by mid-December and plan to begin occupying the building at that time in preparation of our January 16, 2006 opening."

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