BUSINESS PROFILE: A2B Transportation
A2B, a non-emergency medical transportation company, has bounced back after unexpected loss.
By SCOTT THOMA
A few years ago, Robert Bruins was working with a medical transportation company and enjoyed it so much that he decided to start his own company. The new business, based in Silver Lake, was called A2B Transportation and it first started serving customers in November 2017.
The company name is a derivation of the first letter of his last name and the last name of his wife, Sandie Adams-Bruins; one A and two B’s.
A2B Transportation is a non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) company bound by HIPPA. At the time, Robert was running the company, and Sandie was employed elsewhere.
“We did that to limit our loss if the business somehow didn’t work out,” Sandie explained. “We always discussed what was going on with the business and made decisions together, but he did the day-to-day operations and much of the driving.”
Tragedy struck the company last April, however, when Robert contracted COVID and was hospitalized.
“Three days later (doctors) told him he needed to be vented,” Sandie said. “He knew that he wouldn’t be able to communicate with me once he was vented, and he told me to shut the business down. But I just couldn’t shut it down. I wanted him to have the business to come back to when he recovered. He had worked so hard to build it up, and I couldn’t just let it go.”
So, Sandie tried to keep the business going with the help of the other employees.
“I had no idea how to bill insurance companies and how we got paid,” she admitted. “I figured it was most important to keep the clients happy and figure out the billing later.”
Sadly, after 21 days in the hospital, Robert lost his battle with COVID-19 on April 26, 2021, at age 54.
“We invested everything we had into starting the business,” Sandie said. “Our house, personal vehicles and more were used as collateral. We took out a business loan to get our first vehicles, which were wheelchair-accessible vans, that are quite expensive.”
Because Sandie felt this company was Robert’s passion, she wanted to keep it going in his honor.
“He made such an impression on the people he transported,” said Sandie. “His main motto was ‘I want every one of our clients to feel like they are getting into a limousine, even though it’s a van that’s picking them up.’ Personally, I was devastated, and professionally, the whole team was devastated. It was very difficult informing his clients of his passing. They all took it very hard.”
The decision to stay in business was a difficult one for Sandie, however, because of her lack of understanding on how the business was run, and with the help of the other employees, she forged ahead.
“I sure couldn’t have done it without those very dedicated and loyal friends/employees,” she said. “There was so much that I didn’t know, but people were very helpful trying to assist me in figuring it all out.”
Sandie admittedly is still learning the nuances of the job, but is much more comfortable than when she first started running the company on her own.
“So many of the relationships Bob made throughout the four years that he built this business were so helpful and patient with me as I figured out what I was doing... while also grieving this incomprehensible loss,” she said. “I feel like Bob would be proud of this team. We never missed a day throughout this tragic time. We ended up doing a lot of transporting of clients who we didn’t get compensated for because I didn’t know what I was doing. But our main priority was to serve our clients.”
And the clients appreciate the time they had with Bob, and are now building relationships with Sandie.
“They are so nice to me,” said Melanie G., who has been a client of A2B Transportation for over a year. “They are so easy to talk to and deal with. The drivers all treat me so well, and help me in and out of the vehicle. When they take me to the Twin Cities, they will even stop and make sure I get something to eat. I really appreciate that.”
Although the company is small, it is gaining popularity. They have ever-growing file cabinets filled with information on each client.
“I am the owner, bookkeeper, HR Department, and part-time driver,” Sandie said. “We have three other employees, and one sub-contractor. Our mechanic is Harlan’s Repair in downtown Silver Lake. He’s been so good to us. Whenever we have a mechanical issue, he does his very best to get it resolved in record time. We couldn’t have asked to have a better guy on our side.”
Most of A2B Transportation’s clients are transported within an hour’s drive, although some regulars are transported much further. The clients are transported mainly for medical appointments, or to receive therapy. The company has three wheelchair-accessible vans, and two ambulatory vans in their fleet.
“There are two days per week that one of our drivers clocks a little over 13 hours because of a client that lives almost four hours away, and has a standing three-hour appointment,” Sandie revealed. “It’s a long day, and I’m so grateful that our drivers are willing to do that. We sometimes do an airport run, too, if it fits into our schedule.”
The drivers hired by A2B Transportation are very personable, and enjoy visiting with the clients and making them feel important.
A2B Transportation is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on weekends by appointment only. They accept cash, check or credit card, and also work with Medical Assistance, Primewest Insurance, and South Country Health Alliance.
“If a client is using one of those companies for medical insurance, and feels that they need help in transportation to their appointments, they can call their insurance provider and request authorization for transportation,” Sandie noted.
For more information or, to make an appointment, call 320-753-6035, fax 320-753-6036, or email email@example.com. Also, visit them on Facebook.
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