Doctors Express Principals Honored for Entrepreneurial Exploits

When they agreed to partner and become master franchisees for a growing chain of urgent-care centers called Doctors Express in November 2009, Rick Crews and Jim Brennan put an ambitious business plan in place that would take the brand across the state and then beyond. Three years later, they are well ahead of their aggressive pace with nine locations open for business and more on the way. Beyond the physical expansion, however, they have taken the lead in this emerging sector of healthcare with regard to everything from educating the public about urgent care to improving the patient-care experience.
And for all that and much more, the two partners were recently recognized by BusinessWest magazine as its Top Entrepreneurs for 2012.
Thus, they join others from the broad realm of healthcare who have received the honor, which was first awarded in 1995. Others include Cooley Dickinson Hospital President and CEO Craig Melin, and Arlene Kelly and Kim Sanborn, founders of Human Resource Solutions and Convergent Solutions Inc., ventures involved with simplifying medical billing.
As it recognized Crews and Brennan, BusinessWest traced the story from a luncheon meeting between the two in the fall of 2009, when they put their ambitious plans in place, to recent expansion efforts in the Boston area, to speculation about additional growth both in Western Mass. and across their ‘master franchisee’ territory, which includes most of New England.
The two partners now have two locations locally (in Springfield and West Springfield), with plans for others in the formative stage. They also have two locations in the Greater Boston area (with three more on the way) opened as part of a large initiative funded by a capital raise in 2011, as well as five other Eastern Mass. sites now operated by franchisees.
Brennan said the goal is to have perhaps 30 locations throughout their New England territory within two or three years.
Beyond the physical expansion, though, what has been equally impressive is the trailblazing nature of this enterprise, which operates in a field, urgent care, that is still a relative unknown in some parts of the state and the New England region. The two partners have become a model operation for others exploring the Doctors Express franchise with regard to everything from marketing and generating press to finding new and different ways to improve the patient experience.
These include everything from high definition TVs in examination rooms at some locations, to help ease the wait for the physician, to water bottles and cookies for all patients.

“Rick Crews and Jim Brennan embody the true spirit of entrepreneurship,” said John Gormally, publisher of both BusinessWest and HCN. “They’ve dared to dream big and, in the process of doing so, have assumed a great deal of risk. They’re ambitious, confident, and imaginative, but above all else, they’re determined to succeed.
“And their impressive track record to date and promise for continued expansion makes them worthy recipients of our Top Entrepreneur award,” he went on. “Together, they’re a great addition to a long list of inspiring entrepreneurs and those who run their organizations with a decidedly entrepreneurial mindset.”
In the BusinessWest piece summarizing their exploits to date and plans for the future, both partners said a common vision, coupled with the determination to reach and then exceed the ambitious goals that were set, have fostered this success story.
“The enthusiasm that we both showed for the idea was a big factor in allowing us to move forward,” said Crews. “We both saw a great opportunity, and we were on the same page on a lot of different things; we had, and still have, a shared vision of where we can go.”