Business

Let’s get physical

Kitsap Physical Therapy co-founder Mike Danford explains how to use a shuttle machine. The physical therapy practice is celebrating 30 years in business. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
Kitsap Physical Therapy co-founder Mike Danford explains how to use a shuttle machine. The physical therapy practice is celebrating 30 years in business.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

Mike and Barb Danford didn’t know much about running a business in 1979, but that didn’t stop them from opening Kitsap Physical Therapy (KPT).

The physical therapy practice is now celebrating 30 years in business.

“Thirty years is a long time. There aren’t many places that have been here as long as we have,” Barb said.

The Danfords opened their first KPT office in the North Kitsap Medical Center in Poulsbo.

Mike, a fairly recent college graduate at the time, had worked at Harborview Medical Center, Good Samaritan Hospital and a private physical therapy clinic in Bremerton when he and Barb decided to go for it.

“Then we just decided ‘let’s just open our own,’” Mike said.

Mike specialized in orthopedics and sports injury management while Barb focused on pediatrics. The Poulsbo office flourished and the couple started to notice a pattern: one-third of their patients lived on Bainbridge Island.

So in 1983, the Danfords opened a KPT location on Bainbridge Island.

“We never had this growth strategy. The plan was never to grow. The plan was just to provide good service,” Mike said.

Then, in the 1990s, KPT offices popped up in Kingston, Silverdale, Bremerton, Port Orchard and a second location in Poulsbo.

“We needed to have a bigger footprint or we were going to get eaten up,” Mike said.

Dave Damon was a large part of the physical therapy practice’s growth, according to the Danfords.

Damon joined KPT in 1986 and helped open the Kingston and Silverdale locations.

“Dave was our first partner and that’s what really helped us grow,” Barb said.

KPT now has 13 partners, including Mike and Damon.

Mike said orthopedic rehabilitation is the No. 1 reason people come to KPT. The practice offers a variety of services ranging from fall prevention to treating athletic and performance injuries.

“We do probably the widest variety of physical therapy in the county,” Mike said.

KPT is composed of about 70 staff members and Mike said each physical therapist specializes in a certain area. He added that not many people need speciality services, but KPT is ready and able to treat just about anything.

“That, I think, is what differentiates us from everyone else,” Mike said.

KPT staff members participate in ongoing training including twice monthly in-house training sessions and the company sends employees to conferences for additional education.

“The thing that has really made us grow is really caring about our patients and doing good work,” Damon said. “That atmosphere is a big part of what helps people heal.”

Mike said he has several staff members who have worked for KPT for years.

“We have people that have stayed and worked with us for a long time,” he said. “We have people that literally their whole working life has been with us.”

To celebrate 30 years in business, Mike said KPT hosted a staff recognition event, but plans to host open houses at each of the seven locations sometime this year.

As for the future, Mike said he’d like to continue expanding on the practice’s specialty programs and provide better service to patients.

“We’re called Kitsap Physical Therapy. Our focus is Kitsap County,” he said. “We’re not trying to expand all over.”

Mike said he is proud of how KPT evolved over the years and he still enjoys treating patients a few days a week.

“I’m kind of a little excited and proud that it’s evolved to this. The business is bigger than us,” he said. “For being people that weren’t trained in business, I think we’ve created a lot of opportunities.”

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