Long May It Continue
In the world of Home Care1, most everyone knows Tim Rowan. And yet few, really know Tim Rowan.
Sure, most people know Tim Rowan as the editor of the Home Care Technology Report, as a go-to guru regarding industry news and events, and generally as a person whose breadth of knowledge in the Home Care space is exceeded by few.
But few would have guessed that working in the Catholic Church and driving a taxi were part of the path that brought Tim to the Home Care industry.
His story starts in Burbank, California, where Tim was born, and he and his family grew up in the San Fernando Valley. His academic prowess landed him a full scholarship to Lewis University, located just southwest of Chicago. He graduated with a double major2 in Spanish and Elementary Education, and matriculated to Loyola University in Chicago where he received his Masters in Education degree. So what does one do with two Education degrees and a degree in Spanish? They become a youth minister in the Catholic Church of course.
Tim was called to serve, and was moved to the Archdiocese of Northern Colorado in Denver in 1982. During his ten-year tenure there, Tim’s fascination and interest in technology were born. Whilst still wearing the cloth3, he retrained himself on this burgeoning world of computers and technology, and began selling computers as a side job.
Once it became clear to the business world that these computer things were going to take hold, many businesses (including the Church) needed IT experts to help them set up their networks and train their users how to use them. Tim’s expertise in this technology, particularly as a Novell network expert, served him well. He was doing odd jobs around the Denver metro area for various businesses that needed help. Finally, ten years after joining the Church, Tim was hired by a local computer training outfit. One of his customers was a Home Health agency called Physician’s Home Healthcare4. And in 1993, Tim Rowan became a full-fledged member of the Home Care industry.
During the next five years, Tim continued his own learning and education, and became involved with the Home Health Line listserv5. One day, someone posted a question about how to develop and write a Disaster Plan for their agency. Tim had done this, responded to this question, and next thing you know, he is presenting at a conference just six weeks later. The feedback was fantastic, the conference organizers were thrilled, and agencies were better off for having attended.
He was fired one month later. The cutbacks that were a result of the IPS storm in the late 90’s claimed him as a victim.
Door closed. Window opens. Home Health Line, with whom Tim had been involved on their listserv, were also publishing what was called the Home Care Automation Report (literally publishing on paper, not online!). After a quick discussion with UCG, the parent company for Home Health Line, Tim was brought on to do some writing and interviews about the growing technology wave in Home Care. He was introduced to a man named Tom Williams as a resource for his work. This introduction is the most critical axis point in the career of Tim Rowan.
When UCG decided to stop publishing the Home Care Automation Report in December of 1998, Tim convinced Tom Williams to purchase the rights and began his career as editor of a home care technology publication. He made the prescient decision to convert this from paper to an online format, and they launched the first issue in February of 1999. This was a monthly release in the form of a 12-page PDF, and came with an annual subscription fee to obtain. Also, Tim began attending and speaking at conferences at a very high rate. This was the start of something great. After a few speed bumps, Tim changed the format to a shorter release, which was now weekly, and altered his business model. Rather than charging subscribers for the content, a vendor-supported advertising model was put in place. The result? They went from 350 subscribers to 5,000 over the course of the next 6 months6.
So that’s the story of Tim Rowan and how he became the success that he and his businesses are today. But when I spoke to Tim for this piece, I asked a few questions about how he got here:
What is the single most pivotal moment in achieving your success?
TR: There are two moments I must say. The first was meeting and being invited to work with Tom Williams. His presence in the industry and belief in me were absolutely critical to this thing even getting off the ground. The second was his death seven years ago. This affected me very much personally, and professionally it forced me to work much harder, and perhaps more importantly, to work smarter to attempt to fill his shoes.
What “failure” hurt the most and why?
TR: When Tom passed, we had just started working on something new, called the Home Care Information Network. This was a video-based training system where we had both the lecturer and the PowerPoint on the same screen. I was the on-camera interviewer, and my son was the videographer. It was sort of a Meet the Press type of production. Unfortunately, it did not get a lot of traction among our subscriber base. Either we didn’t promote it well enough, or the interest simply wasn’t there.
What did you learn from that experience?
TR: that an online education business has to be a full-time endeavor if it is to be done properly. You can’t go half-way. Also, the people in this business [the Home Care industry] are very busy, and setting aside time to watch a video is hard for them to do. But this helped me really sharpen my focus on what we were really good at – which was, and is I do believe, to deliver the latest in industry trends and information to our customer base.
Do you consider yourself a success?
TR: Well, people have different definitions of success I suppose.
I consider you a success, for the record.
TR: Thank you for that. I would say that whenever I am at a conference or industry event, and I am in the Exhibit Hall, I need to leave there a good 45 minutes before my next meeting because of all the people that will stop me and want to talk to me. I am not a millionaire, but I believe that I am successful in that I am helping the Home Care and Hospice industries achieve their success.
And long may that continue.