Photo by Collin Richie
Family: Mother to three daughters: Kayla, 31, Jamie, 29, and Whitney, 20
Profession: CEO/administrator, Gulf Coast Occupational Medicine Inc.
Years with company: 20
When Sarah Taylor started Gulf Coast Occupational Medicine Inc. with her father, she worked for years to define and grow it, but now, she says the business is an extension of herself.
“Later in your career, your business begins to define you, and if it’s a successful and thriving business, it becomes a part of your personality and becomes an extension of you, where you can’t really imagine yourself without it because it becomes part of your family,” Taylor says. “Gulf Coast is a family business.”
Launched in 1998, the company has seen revenue and profit growth for 19 consecutive years. Through expansion, the operation has grown to become the largest chain of industrial medicine clinics in the Capitol Region, serving more than 60,000 patients annually at 12 locations.
“We’ve grown bigger than I ever imagined,” Taylor says. “Each year we blast through goals, and I’m astonished sometimes at what we can accomplish here.”
The secret to her success? There are two, she says: A commitment to promoting leadership from within, and establishing relationships with patients as well as the health and safety professionals in the region.
A point of pride for Taylor is that every Gulf Coast manager started with the company in an entry-level position—a rarity in small business.
“I think the two things that have made me successful as a business owner have been commitment to my leadership within and helping them grow so that as we grew, they grew,” says Taylor. “That being said, we have to continue to grow—not for the sake of Gulf Coast, but for the sake of the employees who work here. In order for people to continue to have opportunities to advance, we have to expand and create those roles.”
And continual growth requires a constant expansion of the company’s relationships within the community. “In medicine, you have to trust your provider whether you’re going to the doctor for yourself or your workforce,” she says. “Trust in your provider is huge.”
The past two years have seen a subtle shift in the business focus, from geographical growth to technological improvements. Major software upgrades allow quicker invoicing and online access to medical records, as well as online statistical data for employers regarding their workforce.
A new corporate headquarters is also under construction just two miles down Airline Highway from the company’s current Baton Rouge location, allowing the firm to add additional services while expanding its reach with its clients. The facility will have a conference center, with Taylor planning to partner with other businesses to provide a menu of classes and training aimed at promoting a strong workforce.
“Successful business isn’t about spreadsheets and logistics,” Taylor says, “as much as it is about the heart and soul of people who work there.”
1992: Begins working at Earl K. Long Medical Center
1995: Graduates nursing school from Our Lady of the Lake.
1998: Launches Gulf Coast Occupational Medicine & Coastal Event Center with her father
2003: Partners with Alliance Safety Council to open first satellite clinic, providing contractors a one-stop shop for safety training and medical needs
2006: Makes her business paperless with electronic records
2017: Implements an online, cloud-based medical record software allowing customers direct access to records and data
First leadership experience
That would go way back to high school sports. It was my first opportunity to set tone and goals, learning that a team has to function as a whole and that—regardless of talent—a single player could not prevail. I also learned life’s biggest regrets will most always stem from less than full effort.
Relaxing when stressed
I live on the Amite River, where I sit by the water and realize that most problems will float on downstream if nature is allowed to take its course. It’s my kind of therapy.
Who inspires you
My dad, Pat Beach, made me believe that I could fly to the moon. He taught me how to work and that hard work was the only type of work that’s worthwhile. He taught me competition is healthy and winning is fun. He wasn’t much of a fan of second place. In the last few weeks of his life he told me I looked tired. I told him I was working hard. He just said that if that’s the case then he hoped I looked tired for a long time. Boy did that stick with me.