Entrepreneurship is in Thomas Duncan’s blood.
As a child, he earned money selling trading cards. He watched his mother open and operate a health company in Detroit. Duncan attended college exclusively to get a MBA degree. Owning and operating a business always has been his career master plan.
“I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” said Duncan, CEO of Trusted Health Plans. “When I was a little boy I was collecting and selling basketball and baseball cards.”
Duncan eventually put all his cards on the table to invest in Trusted Health Plans. The Washington, D.C.-based health care company helps people connect to and get health coverage through Medicaid. Trusted Health Plans generates about $140 million a year, yielding an $8 million profit. It employs 100 employees and serves 35,000 clients.
Duncan will be a keynote speaker at EntreCon, the upcoming two-day business and entrepreneurship conference hosted by Studer Community Institute on Nov. 3-4. EntreCon 2016 features 40 speakers and panelists, including seven keynote speakers and 12 breakout sessions.The speakers and panelists will share strategies, offer advice and provide information on starting and growing a business.
Click here to register for EntreCon.
AT A GLANCE
Name: Thomas “Tommy” Duncan.
Career: CEO Trusted Health Plans.
Education: Graduate of Florida A & M University MBA program.
Family: Wife, Nicole, hospital administrator; son, Tommy Jr., 6; daughter, Sydney, 2.
Favorite books: “Who Moved the Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal With Change in Your Work and Life,” by Spencer Johnson; “Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big,” by Bo Burlingham; “Fish: A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results,” by Stephe C. Lundin; “Outliers: The Story of Success,” by Malcolm Gladwell.
A native of Detroit, Duncan came down South to attend FAMU’s five-year Master’s of Business Administration program.
Before graduating in 2003, Duncan had already stepped up to the entrepreneur plate. He started a restaurant, Tommy D’s in Tallahassee, opening one near Florida State University’s campus, another at the Tallahassee mall, a third location at the airport.
After school, Duncan moved back home to help his mother keep her business afloat. In 2006, a company in Detroit recruited him to enroll uninsured psychiatric ward patients in Medicaid. It energized him to help more patients get health coverage.
Duncan did some digging and discovered that few companies did Medicaid enrollment for hospitals on a national scale. He stepped in to fill the void.
Duncan and a partner created Care Compensation Specialists Inc. In 2007, Duncan sold the company to Accretive Health.
With entrepreneurship still in his blood and a desire to continue helping people enroll in Medicaid, Duncan took his profits and moved to Washington, D.C.
As keynote speaker at EntreCon, Duncan said he’s centering his message around the importance of building a high-performing culture of alignment that improves and expands an organization.
During the past two years, Trusted Health Plan has built momentum not only with its core business but also throughout the healthcare industry, Duncan said.
The company has implemented a comprehensive delivery system that closely monitors the health behaviors of its members through disease and case management and health screen programs.
In 2014, when Trusted Health Plans opened a Health and Wellness Outreach Center, the first of its kind in the country, many doubted that members would come. Last year, the center saw 750 members each month, a 20 percent increase from its first year of operation.
It’s that kind of growth and performance that Duncan believes is essential for entrepreneurs to succeed. That’s part of the message he will share at EntreCon.
Starting a business is difficult and for many it leads quickly to hardships, money woes, bankruptcy and unemployment, Duncan said. That's why is it’s critical for new entrepreneurs to hear about what it takes and learn from people who have done well in their business.
“Most companies fail, so somebody who wants to start a business successfully and avert the perils of failure in business, should seek and get good advice,” Duncan said. “The best thing they can do is to learn from people who have been through it successfully.”