President of Integrity Home Mobility — Carrie Black

President of Integrity Home Mobility — Carrie Black

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This week’s spotlight is on Carrie Black, PTA, CAPS, who is now a licensed residential contractor and President of Integrity Home Mobility!

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What is your full name, title, and company name for your current, primary role?

Carrie Black, PTA, CAPS, Licensed Residential Contractor

President of Integrity Home Mobility, Inc.

Integrity Home Mobility logo

Where are you located?

Mooresville, North Carolina.

Where did you go to PTA school, and what year did you graduate?

Marshall University, 1998.

What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?

I worked for a small rural hospital system in a variety of settings—such as outpatient, inpatient, and a home health agency—for four and a half years.

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In what setting(s) did you work, and what types of patients did you treat?

I worked with a variety of diagnoses in the following settings:

  • Outpatient
  • Inpatient
  • Long- and short-term rehab
  • Home health
  • ICU and neuro floors
  • Orthopedic specialty hospital

What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?

I found it most enjoyable to experience the interaction with patients, learn their stories, and see their success made through physical therapy care. 

I didn’t enjoy all the extra non-therapy tasks, such as cleaning up a patient, that were often delegated to me as a PTA.

What else have you done since then, prior to your current role?

I had the opportunity to teach in a physical therapist assistant program at a local community college for just over one year. It was a wonderful experience, and I enjoyed expanding my professional skill set through that role.

When and why did you decide to do something non-clinical?

In the spring of 2020, the pandemic occurred, which gave me time to reevaluate where I was in my profession and where I wanted to go next. I met with a creativity consultant to brainstorm new ways in which I could use my professional experience.

I began to recount many conversations with patients about recommending mobility products or grab bars. Patients would tell me that they didn’t know anyone who could help them find or install such items. It was from this “need” that I started my business.

What are you doing these days?

I just resigned from a home health agency and completely stepped away from clinical PTA work so that I can pursue my home mobility business full time.

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Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?

I am solely a non-clinical PTA.

How long have you been in your current role?

Two years.

Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?

I am a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) and a licensed residential contractor.

How did you find your job? Did you apply or find it through a connection?

I learned about starting a home modification business from others and decided to create my own.

When did you start your business?

September, 2020.

Where did you get the idea for your business?

I researched other businesses in a similar industry who are located in other parts of the country. 

My goal was to create a combination business model, which would provide both mobility equipment and home remodeling services, in order to provide greater accessibility in and around the client’s home.

What is your business, and what types of products or services do you offer?

My business is Integrity Home Mobility, Inc. We provide home modification services and are a mobility product provider.

How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?

I’m overwhelmed by how wonderfully supportive my former colleagues, family, and friends have been.

What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time?

I spend my week running my small business, which includes:

  • Meeting clients
  • Providing free home assessments
  • Working on estimates
  • Scheduling work to be completed
  • Marketing 

I am also involved in a fall prevention program for residents of North Carolina.

What are some of the rewards of your role? What are the biggest challenges?

Being a small business owner has been a dream come true for me. 

Transitioning into the role as a contractor is my greatest challenge at this time.  

I am new and still learning. Meeting other contractors has been a great help to me, as I continue to expand my skill set. Never stop learning!

How did your clinical background prepare you for your role as President of Integrity Home Mobility?

As a PTA for home care agencies, I learned to identify patient mobility issues and home safety issues. These professional skills have proven quite helpful in my new role, as I not only identify the safety concern but also provide a workable solution.

What type of person do you think would do well in your role?

The type of person who would do well in my role is: 

  • Detail-oriented
  • A good listener
  • A lifelong learner
  • Willing to perform hands-on work

Do you work remotely or onsite?

My business is mobile. My work takes place on-location at the clients’ homes.

Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles? If so, what type of roles?

Yes; at some point, we will be interested in hiring them as consultants to perform home assessments.

Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?

There are several CEU courses on home modifications that I found helpful to provide a basis for how to conduct a consultation. 

I took a six-week course to prepare me for the general contractors licensing exam.

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What is next for you? What are your high-level career aspirations?

I want to continue to grow my business. I am my own boss, which is a dream come true and my most sincere career aspiration.

Editor’s note: Eager to read another clinician’s story of starting her own business? Check out our spotlight on Alice Navarro Forsythe, Owner and Operator of Opening Doors Therapy!

What would you recommend to someone who is considering going into a role like yours? Do you have any special words of wisdom for the readers?

Don’t be afraid to reach out and learn about this industry. There are many ways this type of business can be structured. Learn as much as you can to see what is the best fit for you.

What career advice would you give yourself that you wish you had during school?

Consider other ways to build your professional skill set. Be willing to branch out, assess the skills you have, and pair those skills with activities you enjoy. You might find something beautiful that you never expected. 

Personally, I wish I would have pursued a construction role years ago. 

What would you teach to today’s graduate students in your profession, if you had the opportunity?

I would encourage PTA students to build their professional skill set by working with a diverse population and in a variety of clinical settings. Be open to lifelong learning, and don’t be afraid to try something new. 

A PTA degree can be a wonderful way to get started. As you gain professional experience, try to expand your career by advancing your education and training. Consider your non-clinical skills, and find ways they might complement one another in the pursuit of something new.

Do you have any special advice for others who want to follow in your footsteps?

Do your research, no matter what you want to pursue. Be prepared to work, and invest the time needed to develop, grow, and run your business.

18 thoughts on “President of Integrity Home Mobility — Carrie Black”

  1. This is amazing. I want to help be an advocate for people in their health and help people lead long healthy lives. Hearing stories like this is encouraging, especially for PTAs. There is a possibility to develop something that is truly yours. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Hi Carrie,

    Congratulations on your business!! It sounds fantastic and good for you for taking the initiative. I’m an OT with over 15 years of home health experience and currently living in Brunswick County, NC. I’ve thought about getting the CAPS certification many times but never considered being my own contractor. I love the hands on work, too! Was it difficult to learn? Did you find the CAPS certification to be useful? I’d love to start something like this in my area. Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. Hi Jeannine,
      Thank you for your response. In my opinion, the CAPS certification is unnecessary when you have a therapy education and background. However, it appears that most home modification consultants and contractors have this designation. That is the main reason I decided to obtain this to add to my credentials. It is an easy certificate to obtain and with your experience, I can only imagine that it will be a breeze for you to complete.

      As for the contractor license it takes time and money to obtain and is not a quick achievement. I found this license essential to the type of business I wanted to start. I have met other consultants who partner with a contractor and have had great success with that option as well. I hope this helps. Best wishes to you as you consider new avenues to pursue in the future.

    1. Hi Mitchell,

      I offer a free home safety inspection with each consultation and work this into my full-service business model. LinkedIn is a great place to connect with other professionals who work in a consultant role/business model and can possibly offer some insight into how their business works. I can say that I have seen some consultants work for insurance companies and others for home modification businesses.

  3. I am so glad I saw you on today’s nonclinical spotlight. I own Functional Home Transformations LLC but have had a difficult time finding clients. How did you market your services? Who do you market to? Do you actually do construction or do you hire vetted contractors?

    Thank you for your time!

    1. Thank you for the comment. I am so glad that my story can bring connections. Finding clients is a work in progress. We use social media and in-person marketing options. It’s a daily, weekly effort to get the word out. You just have to keep meeting people and sharing your business. It has taken me 2 years to really gain momentum.

      We serve clients of all ages and ability levels. I am the lead contractor for all of the jobs and also hire subs for specialty jobs such as plumbing, electrical, etc.

      I hope this helps. Best wishes with your business.

    2. Hi Tomeeker,

      I use online and in-person marketing as much as I am able. I serve people of all ages and ability levels so to answer your question, I market to everyone. I have a team of qualified subs to perform the majority of my work. I will help as needed and am proficient with tools as I have worked with them throughout my entire life. I embrace the team approach when serving my clients.

  4. I am extremely interested in this kind of role. I’ve always had an interest in being a contractor or working on homes and I am feeling the OP PT burnout. How did you become a contractor? What were some of the first steps you took to open and market your business? Do you have trouble getting regular clients? Are there certain areas that you think this would work best? (I live in the Bay Area). Sorry for so many questions but I’m genuinely very interested in getting into this.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for your comment and questions, I appreciate your curiosity.
      I signed up at a local community college to take a contractor licensing exam prep course. Studied for several weeks then sat for the exam. Each state is different but there is a financial requirement that my state required that I had to have before I could get a license and this is something you need to learn well in advance before going down this path because you don’t want to find yourself halfway through the process and not have enough money in the bank.
      As for starting my business, I contacted the small business administration and signed up to get a business coach. They can help you understand what it takes to open up your own business and this service is usually free because our tax dollars cover it.
      I find customers through word of mouth and online marketing. It takes constant work and it is the marketing aspect is never ending if you want to succeed especially if you are on your own and not a franchise.
      I cannot speak to what areas/directions you should explore. I would like to suggest that you begin to research your area and see what others home mod companies are offering and see if there is something you can offer that will set you apart from them.

      I am excited for you. Best of luck!

  5. This story was very inspiring to me. I too am a PTA and currently working in a home care setting in NJ. Carrie, you gave great advise about pursuing a non clinical role and working hard to achieve what you want. Thank you for stepping outside the PTA box and branching out to pursue your own business.

    1. Hi Richard,

      Thank you for your comment and kind words. I think being willing to diversify our professional skill set is one of the greatest decisions we can make as PTA’s. Take Care!

  6. I was reading this so interested in what Carrie was doing. Then I scrolled down to the question about what school she went to. Not only did I got to Marshall but we were there at the same time. Carrie I would love to talk to you more about what you are doing. We are…

    1. Hi Traci,
      Thank you for the comment and it’s wonderful to meet another MU Alumni. Go Herd! I am happy to answer questions when I am able if you would like to reach out. Thanks!

    1. Hi Valerie,

      Thank you for your question. The majority of my clients are private pay or Medicaid. I am successful with all of my efforts so far. There is always a risk with becoming an entrepreneur so I would encourage careful thought and consideration before making that type of decision.

  7. Hi Carrie,
    I’m in the Chapel Hill area and work per diem OT at a hospital and in home care. I’d love to send you referrals and get your name out to my colleagues and care coordinators. Connect with me on LinkedIn if interested!

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