They met in college at Indiana University in the 1980s and would become great friends after pledging Kappa Alpha Phi. Kevin Manuel’s and Greg Hines’ Indiana home ties would eventually lead them to Michigan during separate times of their careers. Hines’ background in public environmental affairs and banking led him to come to Detroit in the early 1990s. Manuel had a pharmaceutical background and then his medical device career would bring him to Detroit in 2001.
Both men remained friends years after college and would talk often about life and the pursuit of something more.
“We came together and said we need to go into business,” said Hines. “We said to one another that we need to find an opportunity that is viable where we’re not just creating an income but where we are providing a service and helping people.”
“We just happened to be on the phone and I told him I’m thinking about doing something different,” said Manuel. “He said ‘I am too and I got a call scheduled with this company, you want to jump on this call with me?’” That is how the business spark began between the two Black men who are courting the idea of becoming franchise owners.
Both Hines and Manuel had closed the chapter on their careers which brought them to Detroit and left their jobs for a completely different pursuit. It was at some point they decided that would enter the homecare business in 2014, which they saw as a growing industry.
Currently, Hines and Manuel, franchise owners of Amada Senior Care, are one of the largest Black-owned homecare companies in the state. Their new frontier as two friends turned business owners started off with a business model of taking care of patients who had long-term care insurance and veterans.
The company services patients who need assistance in living activities such as bathing, getting dressed, exercise and many other tasks.
Growth in the company and changes in the industry led them to focus on patients impacted by auto accidents.
As part of Michigan Auto Insurance Reform of 2020, drivers can choose from up to four levels of Personal Injury Protection Allowable Expenses (PIP AE), the coverage that pays for medical coverage if you are injured in an auto accident. Drivers can select from the available coverage options (unlimited, $500k, $250k, and eligible Medicaid enrollees may choose a $50k limit), or may be able to waive PIP AE coverage altogether, based on eligibility and individual needs.
The change in law aimed to lower the cost and provide insurance options for drivers is creating a challenging situation for companies like the one Hines and Manuel lead. They argue patients injured in catastrophic accidents may require more attention and resources, while enduring less insurance funding if a client chose a lower coverage option. “If they’ve been in a catastrophic car accident with a spinal injury or traumatic brain injury, these folks need the help, with someone to take care of them most of the time”, Manuel said. “The state government in this new law is allowing the big insurance companies not to have to pay market rate for the care that we provide.”
Their argument is insurance companies are in many cases only paying half of what services rendered would normally pay as recent as 2019. The reduced revenue is causing some home care companies to risk going out of business or regretting to inform senior patients and their families that their services can no longer be rendered.
Hines and Manuel are thankful to have a diverse range of clients to handle the changing obstacles of the business industry.
One of those obstacles has been the COVID-19 pandemic which initially left some patients reluctant to allow anyone to enter their home prior to the availability of vaccines. There has also been the universal challenge for finding qualified labor and some patients and their families who only want vaccinated caregivers in their homes.
“About a third of our caregivers are vaccinated. We believe in vaccinations and want them to get vaccinated but we’re not forcing it on them, some of them may quit and we need them,” said Manuel.
They’ve had to issue pay increases for keep up with demand for labor. They are ensuring however that their staff is equipped with personal protection supplies and taking other safety precautions for the patients they serve. The home care industry isn’t an easy line of work when you’re closely aligned with treating someone’s well being and the patience required to do the job.
“Caregivers are very blue collar and most have some sort of training but the industry is very interchangeable. Our caregivers can be working a fulfillment center for Amazon as they could be flipping burgers at Burger King, so it’s a challenge.”
Despite the obstacles, these two Black men have a bond which holds nearly 40 years. They’re honored to service people in dire need of home living support and proud to employ many Detroiters. After all these years, they will tell you they’re not tired of the work and have their sights set on achieving new heights in their endeavors.
“That phone call with the first franchise company wasn’t what we had interest in but it was that spark that started our path with our entrepreneurial dreams,” said Hines. “We knew afterwards, homecare is where we would make our mark and do better than what we had done for our communities.”
Hines and Manuel seek to expand their franchise company into the medical space by someday employing nurses and purchasing residential properties to service future patients.