When the board of directors of Medical Motor Service of Rochester & Monroe County, Inc. told Tim Kohlmeier last year that he had his work cut out for him as the organization’s incoming executive director, they weren’t kidding.
The nonprofit was having its share of challenges, as contracts were upside-down, cash flow was a growing concern and there were rumors in the community of the organization’s potential demise.
Kohlmeier, however, was ready for the challenge. He believed in the organization’s mission and the impact it had on those it serves.
“This organization is a cornerstone of the community,” he said.
Kohlmeier — who took the helm of the organization last August — immediately went to work righting the ship.
He believes his background in crisis management has served him well in the new role.
Kohlmeier’s professional experience includes working as emergency manager for Rochester Regional Health, deputy public safety director and emergency manager for Monroe County and assistant fire chief of the Ridge Culver Fire District.
Medical Motor Service is a non-profit organization providing transportation services to children, adults and senior citizens with specialized needs.
The organization provides more than 475,000 trips per year serving nearly 6,100 residents of Rochester and Monroe County who are disabled and/or unable to use traditional transit services.
Its medical solutions include car services, shopping shuttles, senior center and elder care services, and individualized contract services.
The organization employs roughly 140 people, operates 90 vehicles and has an operating budget of around $8 million.
The stand–alone nonprofit was founded by a group of nurses during the 1918 influenza pandemic to get people to their doctor’s appointments.
It was another pandemic — COVID-19 — that took its toll on the operation, Kohlmeier said.
During that time, donations, which the organization largely relies on, dried up and there were challenges with program delivery as workforce issues mounted, as well as issues with an aging fleet — all of which had a negative impact on the organization, he explained.
To stay afloat, the organization took on jobs that were outside of its normal purview and included having some staff working non-traditional hours.
“They were trying to do too much with limited resources,” Kohlmeier said.
So, he made some changes.
The organization began scaling back from jobs it did during the past few years to get by, moving to those that more fully supported its mission. The change immediately took some stress off the staff.
In addition to the operational changes, Kohlmeier successfully renegotiated customer contracts.
As a result of the efforts, the organization went from a $1.4 million deficit when Kohlmeier started, to being cash flow positive in his first six months on the job.
Martin Murphy, MMS board president, said Kohlmeier has stepped up to help the organization, adding he shares the board’s passion to keep it going.
While the organization was doing fairly well pre-pandemic, COVID-19 exposed some inefficiencies, he said.
Murphy — who has served on the board since 2016 — said Kohlmeier’s professional experience has helped during challenging times, noting the situation could have deterred others from joining the organization.
“He knew we were in a dire situation, and he kept moving forward,” Murphy said.
Kohlmeier’s next plans include starting a fund that will be used for repairs and replacement of the organization’s aging fleet.
He said the organization will also continue to recruit employees — namely drivers — noting that the demand for such transportation services continues to grow.
Kohlmeier is also looking at workforce development efforts for its current staff, who have stepped up during challenging times.
“I’m proud of the team here.”
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