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THE INC. LIFE

How This Former Firefighter Found a Niche in the Organ Transportation Business

From transporting patients to vital organs, this entrepreneur says time is of the essence.

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BY Coeli Carr - 28 Sep 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Editor's Note: This article is part of a series that looks closer at select Inc. 5000 companies in the trenches.

Seth Bacon was at the tail end of a 20-year stint as a firefighter in Arizona--where he'd earned the rank of battalion chief--when an event unexpectedly served as a second-career trigger. A certified paramedic and technical rescue technician, Bacon, at his second job, was helping with a nonemergency air-ambulance transfer of a patient with traumatic brain injury--a prohibitively expensive, one-size-fits-all procedure typically not covered by insurance. Certain he could offer a more affordable solution using commercial flights to transport many patients, Bacon launched Trinity Air Medical, in Tempe, in 2012. Three years later, the company won a local contract to transport organs and hospital transplant teams (such as the one above in Scottsdale), which now accounts for more than 50 percent of its revenue. With 35 employees, Trinity projects handling more than 2,000 requests this year. "Our niche is health care logistics when timing is critical," says CEO and co-owner Bacon. Here's how he made the fateful decision to expand the business into organ transportation. --As told to Coeli Carr

Three years into our launch, we were hungry for more business and knew we'd have to diversify. Shortly after, we were approached by a local hospital. They told us they were having issues with their organ-transplant transportation. After hearing out the hospital--part of the state's donor network and also a member of its consortium of five transplant centers --we decided to look into applying for a contract ourselves.

We had limited time, and there was very little data on the topic available to research. Plus, it was a risk. If we just jumped in--and wound up failing--we could potentially go bankrupt.

Organ transplant and logistics is extremely time-sensitive and 24-hours-a-day demanding, with zero margin for error. Transplant surgeons work on a tight time frame; organs have to get to their recipients as soon as possible, with often more business at night than during the day. It demands such a high level of performance; we really had to look in the mirror and see if we could be effective from day one.

We decided to go for it. We were confident in our abilities and with the positive relationships we had already built with hospitals, medical professionals, and air-charter companies. Since our launch, we had never burned a bridge, and we also felt the goodwill we had built over time would help us be successful in creating a new revenue stream. We won the contract with Arizona's donor network, five transplant hospitals, and the organ-transplant portion of our business continues to grow at a significant rate.

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