So focused on plying their physical therapeutic trade and business acumen at home, Shain and Nisa ZumBrunnen didn’t exactly celebrate college completion like a lot of graduates might do.
“We headed back to Alaska the day I finished school (in Wyoming),” Shain said. “We didn’t wait until the next morning. That night, we pulled out about 6 p.m.”
Leaving later in the day made the first leg of the trip a short one.
“Sure, we didn’t get too far down the road,” Nisa said. “But we were coming home.”
The ZumBrunnens made their way back to their beloved Matanuska-Susitna Valley and worked in the local medical community for a few years – Shain as an occupational therapist and Nisa as an X-ray technologist.
In 2004, they purchased Health Quest Therapy Inc. in Wasilla.
“Here we are, approaching 10 years and it doesn’t really feel like it,” Shain said. “From the very first week, it seemed like we had more customers than we could handle. But we’ve really grown. Ten years is great, but I’m looking forward to 20 and 30.”
Health Quest provides comprehensive physical, occupational, speech and pediatric therapy and other services designed around patients’ bodies, work, sports, hobbies, preferences and lifestyles. The ZumBrunnens brought together a skilled team of providers and other employees who thrive in a positive environment.
“We try to be that place to work that doesn’t always feel like work,” Nisa said. “We’d like to think that years from now we’ll have a lot of the same amazing staff and be setting up retirement parties.”
As a youngster, Shain ZumBrunnen occasionally visited family Outside. His father would take him to the local bank branch where his relatives had banked for years.
“I remember coming away so impressed because the bankers would always call my dad by name even though he hadn’t lived in the area for some time,” Shain said. “It just made you feel welcome.”
The ZumBrunnens found the same kind of family connection when they started working with First National Bank Alaska, Senior Vice President Craig Thorn and Personal Banker Nicole Bendle.
“We were kind of miserable with our former financial institution, and a couple of friends recommended we talk to Craig,” Nisa said. “He was one of those people willing to sit down and talk to us and give our dream a chance.”
About four years into ownership of Health Quest, the ZumBrunnens approached Thorn and First National with the idea of purchasing a new building because the business has rapidly grown out of its rented space.
“Some might have looked at our plan as a stretch,” Shain said. “But Craig saw our growth and realized our potential.”
Since the initial purchase of the building just off the Palmer-Wasilla Highway, the ZumBrunnens completely remodeled the facility as the business tripled in size. At first, they were going to rent out office space. But when the opportunity came about to add pediatric therapy to the business, Shain and Nisa moved quickly to provide their customers another valuable service.
“If we had stayed at our old location, none of this would have likely happened,” Shain said. “So the bank is largely responsible for our growth.”
In turn, the First National bankers who’ve worked closest with Health Quest take great pride in the ZumBrunnens’ success. Not only has the company grown with the bank’s financial assistance, but Health Quest has also implemented banking services like online banking, direct deposit payroll and electronic federal tax payments.
“Shain and Nisa are the kind of people who are realistic about where they want to go, what they’re going to need and how they’re going to get there,” Bendle said. “There’s a lot of forethought and planning in their approach. They’re very smart.”
Thorn and the ZumBrunnens have forged a relationship that goes beyond business hours. Shain will often call on the banking veteran for his thoughts about any number of topics.
“Shain and Nisa provide a great professional service and are well connected in the community,” Thorn said. “It’s really no surprise they’ve been blessed and wildly successful.”
Health Quest employs 24 people between the Wasilla and Eagle River clinics. The ZumBrunnens welcomed two more to the staff five months ago when their twins – one boy, one girl – were born.
With the help of a nanny, the twins spend part of their days at the Wasilla office with their parents.
“It’s challenging, but building a legacy is important to us,” Nisa said. “Yeah, it’s a lot of work – the romantic part of the idea of children, and the reality. We’re smack dab in the reality.
“But we still have our dreams to build something special here. We hope it will be something for them to stand on, and the twins will share our desire to serve and love our community both personally and professionally.”
Learn more about Health Quest Therapy Inc. at healthquesttherapy.com.
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