Classic LifeCare has gone through many changes over the past 40 years and is continuing to evolve. To commemorate the last 40 years, John and Susanne Sherwood sit down to discuss how far Classic LifeCare has come since it began in 1974.
Question: You were just a child when your mother started the business, John. Can you believe the company is four decades old?
John: Yeah, it’s been a long 40 years. There are different phases of memories that I have with the business. There’s my childhood, growing up and having it in the house, and mom was kind of a workaholic so the work was always around us as a family. Then there was moving out of the house into an office and Susanne and I getting more involved and then it became an actual business as opposed to a one-man band. And then there was us having kids and turning it into more of a company.
Question: What are some of the milestones from the last 40 years for Classic LifeCare?
Susanne: Probably moving out of the house was our first milestone. Our original office was in John’s mom’s basement, in John’s old bedroom, so that was a big milestone in1996 (when) we moved to Airport Square.
John: Our first branch in Calgary was a big milestone and that was because Britney and a nurse, Jan Shannon, had both moved to Calgary at the same time and were looking for work and they had the idea (to) help open an office in Calgary… The next milestone I suppose was opening branches without former employees, so that was Victoria and Edmonton in 2006 and 2008. And then the last big milestone was accreditation, which was last year, which was a really big step for us. That kind of formalized us as a successful, long-term, organized, responsible healthcare business.
Question: What sets Classic LifeCare apart from the competition?
John: The real differentiator for us is the overall experience you get with Classic, from the minute you phone to the minute that you no longer need services. That experience, I think, is the best in the industry because we’ve got long-term staff who know their stuff, they’ve been doing it for a long time, but they’re not doing it for a large corporation, they’re doing it for a group of like-minded people who act as a family.
Question: Classic has a lot of long-term employees. What’s the secret to keeping good employees with you for so long? Why do they choose to stay?
John: They’re treated with respect, they’re given the space to be themselves and not be robots. They’re given lots of freedom in their jobs to work with people, to build relationships, that kind of thing… It’s a relationship; we build a relationship with our staff that is long-term.
Question: What qualities did Jan Sherwood instill in the company that are still applied today?
Susanne: She was very hard-working, and I think that stuck with everyone, that loyalty to the business and to seeing it succeed.
John: The client always came first. Whether it was her, me, people in the office or people in the field, there’s an understanding that without meeting the clients’ needs we wouldn’t be around.
Question: Is there anything you want to say to your clients and employees in commemorating 40 years of Classic LifeCare?
John: The relationship is at the core of what we do, and it’s a two-way street, so thanks for your friendship, respect and trust.
Susanne: We’re honoured to have helped you in this time of your life for clients, and thankful for employees.