Mike Horsfield is an eye-contact type, a listener. His words are never without thought.
Sincerity finds him naturally.
It is apparent someone, somewhere long ago, told a young Mike Horsfield it’s OK to be nice to people and to leave a situation better than you found it.
It is advice he lives.
Recently, Rock Valley Physical Therapy’s Chief Executive Officer, was elected president of the Private Practice Section (PPS) of the American Physical Therapy Association. The presidential term for the husband and father of three daughters, runs through 2023.
Modest and armed with a keen sense of responsibility, Horsfield said he was both touched and honored at getting the presidential nod, but knows there is work to be done to assist those he now serves.
“I’m starting to appreciate all that is around me as I grow older,’’ said a Horsfield, PT, MPT, MBA, who began his Rock Valley career in 1993. ”I’m excited at the challenge.’’
A baseball standout at Wartburg College, Horsfield, 52, guides one of the largest therapist-led physical therapy practices in the nation. Founded in 1984, Rock Valley Physical Therapy began as one clinic based in Moline, Illinois, and today features 50 clinics, covering seven regions through Iowa and Illinois. Though Rock Valley has experienced amazing growth in its 36 years, it remains true to its foundation of striving daily to better the lives of the patients they serve.
“Someone told me: “A kind word placed at the right point, makes a significant difference in people’s lives,” Horsfield said as to why more than a decade ago he took a bold step and became an engaged PPS member.
Through the years, Horsfield has served on a variety of committees — and recently as a PPS board member — before being elected to the national organization’s top post.
The Private Practice Section of the APTA, is made up of 3,988 physical therapists nationwide who own, operate and work in a private practice setting. It is an engaging component of the American Physical Therapy Association and its mission is to champion the success of the physical therapist in business. The PPS section is committed to being an advocate for its members through a number of outlets including assisting in payment policy, education on practice management, business, marketing, public reactions and business innovation.
“I can trace several of those (kind word) instances in my life, but my PPS (kind word) instance was meeting with the executive director at the time and that person looking at me and saying that they had to get me involved,’’ said Horsfield. “That person didn’t know me, but to me that was one of those (kind word) moments. That’s been at least 10-to-15 years ago and they were starting a public relations and marketing committee and felt I would be good for that.’’
From that single committee, Horsfield’s involvement and service to the PPS section of the APTA grew. He would, with the PPS’s education committee, lay the foundation for the ultra-successful Peer-to-Peer Program for practitioners nationwide. He would also serve three years on the PPS section’s board of directors.
Peer-to-Peer puts non-competitive-like practices together and uses revenue as the primary indicator. It began with two groups of five and has grown to over 200 practices nationwide involved in the program.
“It wasn’t a new idea,’’ Horsfield said of the program. ‘’It’s been around, but it was new to our business owners and it was new to PPS. “That’s really where I found my passion.’’
Peer-to-Peer was for Horsefield a simple extension of his day-to-day experience at Rock Valley, another of Horsfield’s life passions.
“What’s been neat about my association with PPS, is that each part of the journey I have met someone who would become a lifelong friend,’’ Horsfield said. “But that (Peer-to-Peer) program is an extension of what I see and encounter here (Rock Valley), because every day I work alongside my best friends. If it’s a good day, I have someone to celebrate with. If it’s a bad day, I dump it on (COO) Eric Sacia’s desk and go home and sleep well.
“I realized these small practices owners out there trying to make it by themselves, didn’t have someone there for them or to celebrate success,’’ Horsfield added. “ They deserve to have someone to celebrate success with. I have had a chance to see things from a committee level, from a board level, with Peer-to-Peer and a KPI project (best practices) and now I’ll see it from a different level. It really has been a unique and rewarding experience.’’
Sacia and the entire Rock Valley family is aware of Horsfield’s ability to lead, to share good fortune and to understand what it takes to have and maintain success. His commitment and desire burns as bright today as it did nearly three decades ago when he began his Rock Valley career.
“I have had the privilege to work alongside Mike since we started together in 1993,’’ Sacia said. “He has never wavered in his dedication to his family, co-workers and patients and exemplifies all the characteristics of a leader necessary for success. He has an unparalleled passion for this great profession that we are fortunate enough to work in, not only for Rock Valley but also in his interactions with peers across the nation. Mike has “made better lives” for many different people in the profession on a national level with his involvement whether it be through academic teaching, coaching of practice owners and pushing all of us to be better tomorrow than we are today. Rock Valley has been a beneficiary of his involvement in PPS and we all look forward to the great things ahead for PPS and our profession with Mike’s leadership.’’
There are a number of goals Horsfield has for PPS and his time as president. Many fall in line with his work in guiding the fortunes of a 50-clinic, seven-region organization that has never strayed from its core values and principles.
“I believe ownership matters,’’ Horsfield said. “It goes back to growing up a small farm boy in Iowa. I don’t believe we inherit the land from our parents, I believe we are borrowing it from our grandchildren. When I speak of that as a business or as our profession, I believe we need to leave it better than we found it. I believe if you are an owner of a business you care more. If we want our profession to continue to get better we have got to make it easier. If I want to do something big, this is the opportunity, through the presidency.’’
The future, as Horsfield says, brings no guarantees. And while there are challenges, he will continue to appre ciate what he has and find humor at every turn.
“I don’t know how much longer I’ll do what I’m doing, but today has been great,’’ Horsfield said with a smile. “I still came to work and spent the day working alongside my best friends. There might come a day when they just sit me in a corner and I do nothing or spend the day looking to find that perfect trucker hat we can put the Rock Valley logo on, but for now, though, I still look forward to everything about what I get to do.’’
By Johnny Marx