COVID-19 changed the way CEO Paul Tucker runs Turning Point Recovery Center. Permanently.
Turning Point was started by Tucker in 2010 as an intensive outpatient program to treat addiction. It now includes a residential treatment center, sober living housing and inpatient detoxification in addition to its outpatient services.
Social support and group therapy are important components of the treatment offered by the Albuquerque-based company. Yet in the early weeks of the pandemic, it was clear to Tucker that coming together in person was no longer safe.
While some clients needed to continue detoxing in the facility, Tucker quickly created remote treatment options for other clients. That required him to train both his employees and the people they served on Zoom, a platform many had never used before. He bought his employees cell phones, set them up to work from home and developed parameters for how to interact with clients from afar.
“The first two weeks was madness,” Tucker says. But nearly two years later, remote care is pretty routine for Turning Point and its 70 employees.
Tucker prefers in-person connections for addressing addiction. A lot of the problems in early recovery involve continued use of alcohol and drugs, he said. When he’s sitting face-to-face with someone it’s easier to identify if they’re still using.
Yet group counseling via Zoom has surprised him.
“It’s been a lot more successful than I expected,” Tucker says. “It’s been really good, considering the limitations.”
With COVID-19 vaccinations available and the omicron wave receding, the next step is getting people back in a room together, Tucker says. But because it’s convenient, safe and effective, Turning Point will keep Zoom — a tool once so foreign to the center — for some one-on-one and group sessions.
“Zoom’s never going away,” Tucker says. “We’re going to have some Zoom forever.”
How many employees did you have when you started Turning Point?
“Three … Yeah, it’s really grown. … And I would have done it faster if I had more money. But, you know, I wasn’t getting rich doing this. Everything I do I put back into the company. … I came in with credit card debt and was able to grow this from on a shoestring. And I’m not proud of credit card debt, but I’m proud of where I brought it from that point to wherever I am now.”
You said you didn’t feel like a CEO when you first started the center, but now you do. What made it feel like you were actually a CEO?
“Realizing that it wasn’t me anymore. You know, it was all these leaders that I’ve developed. … It’s being a leader of leaders, being a CEO, and being in charge of everybody. Being a CEO, in my mind, is a multitude of things. It’s about relationships. It’s about having a group of people that are leaders themselves. … Ultimately, really, it’s about having a team of people that you can trust and knowing that there’s no way I can do everything. That’s really about being a CEO for me.”
Can you tell me about a time when you made a decision that impacted the future direction of Turning Point?
“My vision has been pretty clear. I mean, I felt like I did have some temptation to veer off and do something like eating disorders. And I didn’t. I’ve had opportunities to veer off and do more mental health stuff, and I haven’t done that. … Keeping really focused on addiction has been really helpful for us. I think our mission is pretty, pretty clean. There’s not a lot of branches off of that. It’s a bigger organization (now), but it’s got a single purpose.”
What does business success mean to you?
“Business success is both being financially responsible and doing the right thing for the client.”
How do you measure that?
“Well, one, can you pay your bills? That’s the financial responsibility part. Are you so worried about finances that you have to trim down your workforce? We haven’t had to do that so I think we’re passing that, the financial responsibility piece. And the client care is based on outcomes. It’s based on a lot of things, but ultimately from a scientific point of view, it’s based on how are you doing in terms of outcomes. … We track our outcomes, and we’re looking for how we can improve. So we’re in constant improvement.”
Tell me about your workforce and how they impact the company.
“Well, I’ve got some really a lot of dedicated people. I mean, my industry is sort of special in the sense that a lot of people that are doing this work are either in recovery themselves or have some connection to recovery. So there’s a lot of people who are very passionate about what they do. And that’s, that’s wonderful for me because I get people that really care about what they’re doing and are very committed to it.”
About the Business
Name: Turning Point Recovery Center
Leader: Paul Tucker, founder and CEO
Industry: addiction treatment
Physical HQ address: 9201 Montgomery NE #5, Albuquerque
Year established: 2010
Number of employees in year established: 3
Number of employees today: 70