It took a year and three attempts for Meiste to pass the state board exam. A significant change in Medicare the same year also made it difficult to find a physical therapy job. “That season was a big test of faith. I had to move home and ask for help, which was hard for me because I’m so independent,” Meiste said. She began the journey of learning to trust God’s timing and growing in the process. It’s a lesson that would carry her through the next seven years and into owning her own business.
Meiste worked a variety of physical therapy jobs for seven years, but always had the dream of starting her own business before she turned 30. After getting laid off, Meiste began to go after contracts on her own. She eventually took another job, but the seed for her own company was planted.
While working yet another frustrating job, the manager of a local health club approached Meiste about opening a physical therapy office inside the club. That conversation started a nine-month process that ended when she was let go from her current job over a paperwork issue. Two months later, in July 2006, she opened Nephew Physical Therapy inside a health club in Holland, Michigan. “I was going to quit the job eventually, but I think God said ‘No, it’s time to move on.’ When people ask me how to start your business, I reply ‘divine intervention!’” Meiste said.
The ride continued to be bumpy. It took five years to gain participation as an in-network provider to one of West Michigan's largest insurance networks. As a result many potential patients chose to go somewhere else since they didn't participate with their insurance. Despite this major obstacle, the practice continued to grow. “Every time we called (the health network), we were kind, polite, and stuck with our values. Then one day, we got the call extending participation. It was a surreal moment,” Meiste recalled. It was another reminder that God is in charge and has His timing for everything.
From the beginning, Meiste had the vision of helping patients get past the myth that they experience pain because they’re getting old or because they played sports. “People are often afraid to go to therapy because they think therapists will tell them they have to stop doing what they love. I think it’s important to take people as far as we can and not quit on them,” Meiste said.
Meiste’s faith affects how she relates to clients. “When a patient comes in for an evaluation, if I feel it’s appropriate and won’t make them uncomfortable, I refer to how God created the body. I’m amazed at how complicated it is, yet so simple, and how we can heal. I try to give people hope,” Meiste explained.
Over the past seven years, Nephew Physical Therapy has grown to a team of seven and added massage therapy. Meiste’s personal life has grown as well. She is now married and has two children. “I get to do what I want to do,” Meiste said. “I might have made more money working for someone else, but I’d have been bored.” She is thankful for her husband, who has been there through her job losses and the challenge of starting the business. Owning her own company has also allowed her to be home with her children a couple days a week.
Meiste and her team have a passion for giving back to the local community.
Nephew Physical Therapy has partnered with WJQ 99.3 FM to sponsor a 5k and Fun Run to raise money for the Paradise Bound Open Doors Orphanage in Guatemala. The inaugural race in 2012 drew 200 runners and raised around $3,000 for the orphanage. This year’s race will be held September 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Huizenga Park in Zeeland. For more information or to register visit: http://opendoors5k2013.eventbrite.com/
Meiste is in the process of purchasing a new location for the business with plans to be settled by September. Long-term she’d love to have a personal trainer in the space as well. No matter what the future holds, Meiste will continue to partner with patients in their life transformations and trust God’s timing in everything.
At a glance:
Name: Melissa Meiste
Family: husband, Mitch; 2 kids ages 3 and 1
Company: Nephew Physical Therapy
Location: North side of Holland, MI
Type of Business: Physical Therapy