David Laiderman is CEO of Veterans Home Care, a company helping veterans and their families receive VA benefits for in-home care. The organization has served over 22,000 veterans and their spouses nationwide through some 5,000 homecare agencies and caregivers. David has over 20 years of experience operating healthcare and technology-related companies. He has started and built for acquisition several food related firms in the US and co-founded a software development business in Warsaw, Poland which was recently acquired by VHC. A native of St. Louis, David Laiderman’s background includes experience in sales management and training, marketing and digital strategy, small-cap financing strategies and accounting, financial modeling and operational efficiency. Among his accolades, David was named to the 2023 Titan 100 as one of St. Louis’ top CEOS and led Veterans Home Care to receive a national Gold Award for first place in the 2022 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards. He holds a BS degree in Management and International Business from Pennsylvania State University with a minor in Engineering from Imperial College in London.
Where did the idea for Veterans Home Care come from?
My aunt Bonnie Laiderman actually started Veterans Home Care from tragedy. Her mother was dying of breast cancer and her mother’s late husband, Bonnie’s stepfather, had served during wartime. She sought support to help her mom with the needs of daily living and learned about a special aid and attendance pension through the VA for in-home care. The pension enables veterans, and their spouses who qualify, receive help so they can remain in their homes and live with the dignity they deserve. However, it was too late to pursue it as her mother passed away. She vowed then to help veterans and their families receive the benefits they deserve. She started the company 20 years ago and over time we have grown to work with over 22,000 veterans and their spouses nationwide through over 5,000 homecare agencies and caregivers.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I spend most of my time working with staff and analyzing how we are delivering care for a changing market. Dealing with the senior care marketplace our goal is to continually innovate to keep healthcare delivery affordable for our clients. I keep my day productive by offering two channels of communication with our team. We block out time to use Microsoft Teams for key video calls and we use email for other less pertinent matters.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Our process involves interlocking meetings throughout the week where many ideas are brought to the table. We foster a culture of collaboration. When the leadership group or executive group generates a solid opportunity we should explore, we move it up or down in importance and, if it merits strong consideration, we will bring it to our operation meeting. Once it is accepted, we discuss our idea with stakeholders and gain their feedback. When we are confident the idea will add strong value to our operation, we then will incorporate it into our business practices.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend in our industry is the bundling of healthcare delivery services and that is the next level in senior healthcare. It combines virtual care with technology and our team is excited about the possibilities. In fact, we have taken many steps in this direction with our voice-activated SmartCompanion device. It is gaining national recognition and adoption as it combines voice-activated calling, and video chats with the intelligence and fun of Alexa®, replacing old-fashioned medical alert devices. Available through our sister company SmartCompanion.Care, the device is available to all seniors regardless of military service.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I believe in empowering our team so that they assume more responsibility and can execute many ideas and practices on their own. They shouldn’t need the CEO to be present or decide on every small issue. Elevating team members creates more freedom and reduces tension throughout the organization.
What advice would you give your younger self?
What I learned over time is no matter how bad or how good things seem at work, what you come home to at night is more important than what happens in the office. Family should take precedence over everything.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Someone serving in the role of a department manager doesn’t need to know everything occurring within their department. I think it’s important for people to understand the nuances of their co-worker’s roles
but stay in their lane and maximize productivity within their specific role. Many managers waste time trying to be the “jack of all trades”. Team alignment, coaching on employee growth, and focusing on the success metrics of their division should be their top priority.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I strongly believe in ensuring the managers underneath me are given the skills and mindset to advance to the next level within the organization. In effect, I am looking for those who could eventually become the next CEO and others who could become leaders. This can include training and activities to elevate everyone in the company. Enhancing the skill set of each team member builds vibrancy and productivity throughout the organization.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
You need to continually be looking at the bigger picture of where your industry can go and then focus on adding value to your core product. This includes continually innovating and making your products more valuable to your customers. For example, as we serve veterans we are also re-imagining home care by adding virtual components to increase affordable care options into a much broader market. In addition to our niche serving these veteran families, we have set the groundwork to move into telemedicine and therapeutic care. Veterans Home Care has several new products on the horizon that will soon be available to all seniors.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I made the mistake of hiring the right person but at the wrong stage of our company’s growth. His knowledge and skill set were great but it was too early for where we were. Unfortunately, we had to dismiss him and then realigned our team to get back on track.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
One of my ideas is for an interactive video shopping cart. Imagine a shopper beginning to check out and receiving a prompt to watch a 30-second ad. In exchange for watching the ad, they could receive an automatic discount or coupon for a product or service in which they have an interest. The ads would be triggered by an algorithm much like you see on media websites. It would benefit both the advertiser and the purchaser and be a great way to reach the targeted consumer.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I like flexibility and versatility coupled with simplicity. I recently bought a very nice reversible belt. It is brown on one side and black on the other. I now have one belt for everything no matter the outfit.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Evernote is great software that helps me stay organized in both my professional and personal life. I use it to write down notes and details for all types of projects. For example, it is a good place to store your passwords. Best of all it is device agnostic meaning it is transferable between any laptop, mobile phone, or desktop.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack. It has great information and advice for leaders in today’s business environment as they pursue a culture of openness and transparency.
What is your favorite quote?
It is from Winston Churchill who said, “When you are going through hell, keep on going.”
- Foster a culture of collaboration where any team member can bring an idea to the table.
- Empower your team to assume more responsibility where they can execute many ideas and practices on their own.
- Ensure your management team, underneath you, is given the skills and mindset to advance to the next level of your organization.
- Family is the most important part of your life and should take precedence over anything occurring in your business.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.