Jim Barfield, who also served on the Brevard County Commission, is often the face associated with the incredibly successful Luke & Associates, headquartered in Rockledge. However, from the beginning, Rich Hall has been a co-owner and founder.
The company was formed to provide medical staffing to all branches of the military in 2004. As more military medical personnel were deployed overseas to support troop efforts, there were critical shortages, which on a contract basis, Luke & Associates works to fill. They bid on their first contract in 2005 and by 2011 they had gone from five employees to 1500.
“Rich had an IT company before joining Luke, which was critical in forming and implementing the processes that would manage a company of our size and how we planned to scale,” Barfield shared. “He also had essential financial management skills and I had a business development background, with experience with government contracting.”
Almost immediately they were faced the perils of growing too fast and out pacing their ability to manage their size. Barfield and Hall chose a path of complete transparency with their governmental partners, a strategy that forged a level of trust and confidence that saw them through their growth pains and continues to this day.
“We have been doing this business for 15 years and every day it is a new challenge and a significant challenge,” Hall said. “When you go from zero revenue to over $100 million, within a three-year period, you can imagine what we were dealing with. We had to build the infrastructure, the processes, credit lines and cash flow, not to mention the personnel challenges; it was daunting, and Jim and I are very hands on.”
Barfield and Hall refer to the faith as being foundational to how they approach every aspect of their business. Even the name “Luke,” of Luke & Associates, was drawn from a Biblical character, who was a physician, and authored the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.
Currently the company has staff working at 60 military bases and they believe they will double that footprint in the next few years. They both agreed that a key to leadership is identifying and understanding what their employees deal with every day and the mission they fulfill. “We had one nurse practitioner who was directly responsible for preventing over 150 suicides, that is the difference we make,” Barfield said.