INTERVIEW WITH BOB GLAZER, CEO OF ENT AND ALLERGY ASSOCIATES (PART 2 OF 2)
Interview edited for length and clarity.
Michael: So it’s 1976. You had a bachelor of science in business from the state university, you had to find a job, so what happened? You went searching through the New York Times?
Bob: I think a lot of kids face that today. In college, you have tremendous amounts of freedom and no responsibilities, but when you get out, the party’s over. And you come home and you have to say to yourself, “okay, I just had four great years away and it was really a growing experience. I got to get a job and make a living and I don’t want to live in my parents’ house.” So I came home that summer, and I think I did work at the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene through August, and I said “t his is not what I want to do. I really want to get on the business side of things” and started doing what people do in 1976 when you’re looking for a job: open up the Sunday times at the employment section —
Michael: That was like 30 pages!
Bob: That’s correct. And there was a little ad in there, maybe it was two and a half inches long, and it was three lines [of text]. And I answered the ad. [It was] for NYU Medical Center, that was advertising for a position called Grants Management Specialist, and I sent my resume in and they called me and said “come on in for an interview.”
Michael: So what did you do in Grants Administration at that time?
Bob: So, I was lucky enough, I got the job. My mother dressed me up and bought me a three-piece corduroy suit and I went in and I I guess I wowed them enough — they made me an offer. I think my first salary in 1976 was 9,800 dollars a year. Grants Contracts Administration is really helping physicians apply to whether it’s the NIH or the NIMH or local foundations that are giving money toward medical research. Helping them put together the applications from a business perspective, working on their budgets, making sure all the documents that are required by the funding organization are there. You have specific deadlines to meet, and getting that stuff in on time and tracking the responses, that’s what Grants and Contracts does.
Michael: Now one of the benefits of working for NYU Medical Center is that you’re able to get a graduate degree and it’s paid for.
Bob: That’s correct.
Michael: And you subsequently left the house, and you found an apartment on 27th Street and Lexington Avenue, when the neighborhood was a little different, as one would say.
Bob: Yeah, it was back in 1976 – 1977, I I think I commuted from home for about six months, and my office was on 34th and 1st, and I found a walk-up apartment on 27th and Lex[ington] — it’s a great area to be in right now. Back then, it was a red light district and a tough neighborhood, but it was a seven block walk to my office, and when I decided to apply and get accepted to NYU’s grad program down in the Greenwich Village campus, it was a walk to campus.[/vc_column_text]
Bob: Yes. So again, one of the benefits of NYU at the time was if you matriculated into an evening program, you could get that as part of a fringe benefit. And I earned my master’s over three years at night going to school.
Michael: And if you had kids at that time and you stayed at NYU for the rest of your life, you could have even had their tuition.
Bob: That’s correct.
Michael: Because the guy who you work for who we know, Ira Goodman who’s now in California, he went for a couple degrees and his son went to undergraduate and got his master’s and his medical degree.
Bob: Yeah, it’s a great benefit. And back then, it wasn’t even a taxable benefit. Today, they still have those benefits at many universities, but they’re a taxable benefit.
Michael: So, NYU, you’re in grants, then you get involved with the charitable division, the Department of Development, and then you get into a variety of divisions and you’re there for about seven years, you said, right?
Bob: I was there for actually nine years. Worked in the controller’s division. Actually, I was asked to administer the department pediatrics and OBGYN for the school of medicine. And those offices were actually in Bellevue at the time. And subsequently, (this is now the late 70s, early 80s), PCs suddenly became the hot thing to get involved in, and I wanted to be involved in [them]. A breakthrough technology. So NYU was trying to computerize their donation programs to track who they were getting donations from, and where they were going, and they developed databases [for] that. And I got involved in a project to develop the software and track donations for the medical center.
Michael: Then you get Columbia, how does that happen?
Bob: So nine years, you know, a couple of different jobs at NYU, I had gotten my master’s, now I’m in my mid 20s, time for a change. I started sending out some resumes, and I got called by a recruiter. He was recruiting for a job up at Columbia Presbyterian in their fundraising arm, where they needed a Director of Administration to put back together their accounting and their computer systems. I went on the interview and I was in the right spot at the right time. It’s interesting, I recently got an email from that recruiter who just retired. He said to me: “You were my most successful recruit in my entire career. Now that I’m retiring I needed to let you know that.”
Michael: That’s nice.
Bob: So a guy named Steven Entin got me the job.
Michael: When you’re there, you got involved with the Milstein hospital and some other projects.
Bob: So again, this is now the mid-1980s. The hospital modernization program is underway, the Milstein hospital is in the process of opening. I got involved [with] the CPMC Fund, who are trying to raise massive amounts of capital donations to fund the building project there, and I believe that was over a hundred million dollar project back then, to open up the Milstein hospital. I was there on the fundraising side and as part of the fundraising side, CPMC fund managed endowment funds for both the Columbia University School of Medicine and the Presbyterian Hospital in the city of New York.
Michael: This is before the mergers?
Bob: That’s right.
Michael: Separate entities.
Bob: That’s right. And so the CPMC fund was managing about 65 million dollars of endowment fund. So I got a little bit of new knowledge. I got introduced to the investment banking world, and the so-called “captains of industry”, the folks that were on the board of Columbia Presbyterian, who were at Merrill Lynch and Chase and American Express and I got to know them, because I attended all of this organization’s board meetings and finance committee meetings at the time. So I got an introduction to those trustees who were also trustees of Presbyterian Hospital in the state of New York and Columbia Presbyterians health centers, and it was through that and through the then-executive vice president up at Columbia Presbyterian, a guy named Joe Cochran, that Joe asked me to come on board as the assistant treasurer at Presbyterian Hospital. The assistant treasurer who had been there prior to that was retiring, so I was in the right spot at the right time. And certainly I would say that the first year and a half at CPMC fund, I put back together a mess, and got it organized enough —
Michael: Then you got involved with the United Hospital. Were you living up in Westchester at this time? And then from there you went to ProHealth, which was a multi group practice. Did you leave ProHealth, and what happened?
Bob: Sure, so you know, I left Presbyterian, I went over to United Hospital and I got introduced to the physician management side of things and took a liking to that. I got recruited to go to ProHealth when they first opened up and again, they are a multi-specialty group practice on Lake Success run by a physician named David Cooper, he’s still there, and as you know ProHealth is huge these days. But I was commuting from Chappaqua to Lake Success and it was a start-up, and I was spending enormous amounts of time out there. I had young children, and I got a call from another recruiter who happened to have my name from someone else that I had met through my career, actually at CPMC fund. And they called me and they said gee, you know there’s a start-up [called] ENT MSO (Management Services Organization)
Michael: ENT, you know, ear, nose and throat right?
Bob: That’s correct.
Michael: And how many people were they?
Bob: At the time it was an MSO, a Management Services Organization. It consisted of ten physician ENT practices all over the New York metro area and it was called Physicians’ Domain. And the concept was that these physicians were going to fund a back office operation to be able to do better billing and collection, because managed care had entered the market.
Michael: Right, negotiate better fees…
Bob: And they were getting killed.
Michael: So you get this call, and were they even owned by a publicly held company?
Bob: Subsequent to me joining them, they, again, I joined at a period of time where they were having severe cash flow problems and they actually wound up owing the bank quite a bit of money, there was a call for cash and a lot of the physicians didn’t stick around. And the core group, three groups totaling 12 physician partners, stuck around — actually sold their assets to a publicly traded practice management company in Atlanta, Georgia called Physician Specialty Corp., it’s no longer around. And Physician Specialty Corp. reorganized the management. And actually, I was hired by Physician Specialty Corp. to manage the New York operation. PSC (Physician Specialty Corp.) had about a dozen ENT practices east of the Mississippi. We were in fact the New York practice for them. And PSC helped us put ENT Associates, (the first organization name was “ENT Associates” in 1999) and I remember that at the time I would get phone calls and people would say “Is this an accounting firm?” “Is this a consulting firm?” So within a year I convinced the board that we needed to change the name to ENT and Allergy Associates. And it clicked for the patient population that —
Michael: But how do you grow a business? I mean, from 12 physicians to today, 160 physicians?
Bob: Today we’re 140. I hope to be 165 next year.
Michael: And how many offices?
Bob: 39 offices, 700 employed. So “slowly” is the quick answer to that, because you don’t move quickly, you make sure that you’re diligent about ensuring that you have a program that works, so that each time you add that next group of physicians…
Michael: How many ENT specialists are in the country? Because we were talking about that. I mean, you’re the CEO of ENT and Allergy Associates, but part of your job is recruitment. And also another interesting thing is that ENT, because you’re dealing with a head, neck and throat, is one step below a brain surgeon.
Bob: That’s right. So just to give you some numbers on that — there’s probably about 9,000 or 10,000 active otolaryngologists (that’s what an ear nose and throat doctor is referred to in [this] country), many of them in academic practices or multi-specialty group practices, and I spend most of my time at this point just doing recruiting.