Ask the CEO

By Hannah Wallace September 30, 2009

›› Thanks to the 2001 federal law aimed at making sure that medical care for an injured worker is paid by workers’ compensation rather than Medicare, John Williams has transformed the tiny Bradenton insurance consulting firm founded by his parents into the nation’s leading company of its kind. Williams, 34, is chief executive officer of Gould & Lamb LLC, which helps insurers and employers settle workers’ injury claims in compliance with Medicare rules. Two-thirds of the firm’s 300 employees work in the Plaza del Rio office center, overlooking Bradenton’s Manatee River. The other 100 are scattered around the country. Gould & Lamb got another boost in 2007 when the Medicare law was expanded to look at whether an injured person may be covered by liability or no-fault auto insurance.

So Congress has been very good to you? Absolutely. Our industry was born in 2001 with the new Medicare law. We are an organization that gets involved in injury cases prior to settlement. We negotiate with Medicare to reduce the amount Medicare wants, and we project the lifetime healthcare needs of the injured person. We specialize in cost containment services.

What has been your toughest time? It was in 2001. I was working for an insurance company in St. Louis when my parents called and asked me to work for them at Gould & Lamb, which then had only four employees and one client. My stepfather had talked to an elder law attorney who told him about this new Medicare legislation. My parents wanted me to try and sell a new service based on the change. I read the law and saw it was a great opening, because everyone involved in workers’ comp was going to need help complying and containing costs. I packed up and headed cross-country to Florida. When I got here, my parents said I had to sell something within four months or they wouldn’t be able to continue paying my salary. I did it. But to make that first customer happen, I was on the road 85 percent to 90 percent of the time. It didn’t kill me, but it was hard.

What is your market share today? We have 30 percent to 40 percent of the market nationally. We are the largest company in our industry. Our annual revenue was $31 million in 2007, $35.7 million in 2008 and it looks like $42 million in 2009. We just keep growing.

Who owns Gould & Lamb? My mother, Janice Lamb, and my stepfather, Mike Gould, founded the company in 1999. They sold their interest in 2006 and a private equity firm, ABRY Partners, came in and bought 80 percent of the company. The other 20 percent is owned by the Gould & Lamb management team.

What are you best at? I’m pretty good with numbers. I’m able to look at how the organization is doing in a very analytical way and determine what we need strategically to correct any deficiency I might find. I’m not bad at sales, either.

What are you not so good at? I come up short on the patience side. Maybe I am not as warm and fuzzy and soft as some people would like, but I’m working on it.

What would surprise people to know about you? I am a certified instructor with the National Rifle Association, a huge supporter of the Second Amendment and I have a collection of 32 guns. My grandfather was a gun collector, and he taught me when I was six years old how to handle a gun and be safe. ■

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