The New Mexico-based company operates in nine cities throughout the state. It does consulting work with regional hospitals in Alamogordo, Ruidoso and Los Alamos and staffs independent clinics in Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Hobbs, Carlsbad, Los Lunas and Rio Rancho.
The Rio Rancho Sleep Clinic works with specialists throughout the state to provide cutting-edge sleep technology to its clients.
The clinic has the feel of a doctor’s office mixed with a hotel. Melendrez has made it a goal to tackle the nervousness that comes along with sleep testing in an attempt to encourage the public to seek help for disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia.
The result is a place where people can receive medical treatment and advice while trying not to doze off on the excessively comfortable couches.
Melendrez and his company make it a point to be involved in the communities in which they reside.
He has been a member of the Rio Rancho Chamber of Commerce since the clinic opened. He chaired the selection committee that chose current chamber CEO, Jerry Schalow. He co-founded Visionaries, a young entrepreneur group, and this year he was named chair of the Chamber of Commerce.
Are you trying to get me to fall asleep on your couch?
A lot of times people are anxious about coming in. They imagine that it’s going to be a white room and that they are going to be stared at through, like, a one-way glass type of thing.
Now, sleep apnea has become a lot more mainstream. A lot of people are really looking into sleep and when it comes to performance, especially in sports.
I know in the NBA, I read one (article) specifically about how they used to come in for a morning shoot-around and how they don’t do that any more. They let their players sleep in and get more sleep and then use that to their advantage.
So a lot more of what we are doing is reaching a tipping point with people to come in and get tested, because of a myriad of different reasons.
Is Rio Rancho Sleep Center part of a larger national chain or locally owned?
Ours is a local company here. We are incorporated out of New Mexico.
But what we find is that when we go into a community we want to be a part of that community. And so what we do is we actually name all of our locations after the city that they are. Just to give it more of that hometown feel.
I mean, we join the local chambers of commerce, we try to support all of those local businesses that are there in that town, we hire local people.
Did you start the sleep center?
Yes. I started it back in 2005.
I was originally working for a sleep provider in Albuquerque and that’s where I originally got my start in the sleep medicine field.
I worked in doing some medical billing and really where I found my niche was, and you’re going to laugh, but back in the day they used to mail a lot of documents and stuff like that on sleep studies. So if you wanted to read sleep studies for a provider that was outside of your territory, you had to mail a burned DVD or a thumb drive or whatever. Cloud computing hadn’t been created yet.
And so I created a server system so that we could do a HIPAA-compliant secure transfer of that data.
Has the Rio Rancho Sleep Center always been at this location?
Yeah, this one has been here since 2009.
We originally started out as a consulting company. So that’s another division of our organization. In Alamogordo and Ruidoso, we have a contract with the hospital down there, Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center, and we manage their operations. And then a very similar thing for the Los Alamos Medical Center. We manage their sleep center operations on their behalf.
That’s been a really good relationship. We’ve been in a relationship with Gerald Champion for almost 12 years now. And they are one of the places where we really implemented a lot of our programs. That’s where it all started.
(We said) “Hey, if we can run a sleep center here in a smaller town, then we will prove out our concept. You know, we will prove out this niche that sleep centers can be operated in smaller towns, be profitable and that the community is going to respond to them.” And that’s what we found.
So after we did some consulting with the hospital, we then moved on to actually starting our own sleep centers.
You really have a lot on your plate; are you tired?
(laughs) Well, I get really good quality sleep. I use a CPAP at night so … yeah. I’m a product of the product.
And for me, my motivation for using the CPAP every night is that we have almost 75 people working for us at this company. And this can be a high-stress, high-performance job and I need to show up every day ready to take on the new challenges. And I know that if I didn’t get a good night’s sleep last night, then I might not be functioning to my highest capability during the day.
So I try to maximize that: eating right, working out and getting good sleep.
What major challenges are you seeing for Rio Rancho from a chamber of commerce point of view?
One of the challenges that I see is that maybe this community has a lot to offer, the best schools, one of the better places to start a company, but a lot of times I think that it may get overlooked in the broad spectrum of things as regarding a national stage.
And that’s sort of been the real uphill battle with Rio Rancho. We’ve been trying to define what our own identity is, as not a bedroom community to Albuquerque.
But it’s like, hey, we deserve our own mall. We deserve our own theater. So it’s been that type of struggle.
So I think that is the challenge of Rio Rancho. It’s selling it. Because once people actually look into it, its really enticing to have a business up here. Especially with the community we have.