Article originally posted in and nationally syndicated by the American City Business Journals on April 4, 2017.
Entrepreneurs are driven by many things. Sometimes it’s an experience that has had a huge impact on one’s life. Such is the case of Joseph Lubowitz, a 28-year-old entrepreneur whose personal struggle with drug addiction drove him on an extraordinary journey to help others going through a similar struggle.
Lubowitz is the founder and CEO of Humble Beginnings Recovery Centers, an agency that provides drug and alcohol abuse treatment, as well as mental health counseling to those suffering from substance abuse disorder. Humble Beginnings now operates treatment centers in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.
In the eighth grade, Lubowitz and his friends started to consume alcohol and smoke marijuana, which unfortunately, were easily available. After graduating from high school in an affluent suburb north of Philadelphia, Lubowitz attended Penn State University, where he continued his substance abuse.
During the summer after his junior year at Penn State, he became addicted to opioids. According to Lubowitz, “Eventually things started to spiral out of control,” causing him to drop out of school during his senior year.
Lubowitz said, “After leaving Penn State, I became addicted to heroin. I was in and out of treatment and reached the point at which I was ready to do whatever it took to become drug-free. I didn’t want to die. I made a commitment to myself and my family to succeed. It was the hardest journey I have ever been on.” Lubowitz said that he has not consumed alcohol or taken drugs in more than five years.
“I saw others struggling with the same addiction issues and I wanted to help them navigate their recovery,” said Lubowitz. After seeking guidance and advice from many people and relying on his entrepreneurial instincts, he made a bold decision and started Humble Beginnings in 2014. Every entrepreneur is driven by a passion, and Lubowitz’s passion is very apparent just from speaking with him.
Lubowitz said many of his competitors are larger companies that treat hundreds of clients at time. “It’s hard to compete with the big guys when it comes to marketing, but not on individual client care.” Most of the clients come to Humble Beginnings by word-of-mouth.
Lubowitz hires people who don’t look at their position as just a job, but genuinely care about their clients. He feels that the quality of care of each client is a differentiator and is paramount to Humble Beginnings’ success.
This principle guides his company’s growth strategy. Once a location reaches a size such that further growth could adversely impact the quality of a client’s experience and quality of care, Lubowitz opens another center at a new location to accommodate new clients.
His staff, who are certified providers in their areas of expertise, are key to putting each client on the path to recovery. Lubowitz said, “Our clinical director is dual master level licensed in mental health and substance abuse and our medical director is board certified in addiction psychiatry. They have the drive and motivation to put their knowledge to use to provide the best services to our clients.”
I asked Lubowitz what are some of the things that keep him up at night as CEO. He responded, “Beyond being on a journey to provide our clients better care, I also think about how we can provide our staff a better employee experience. I value my employees as much as our clients.
“I also think about future changes in healthcare reimbursement rates and insurance coverage. We fight and advocate every day for our clients with the insurance companies.” He added, “I want to go to sleep each night knowing that I gave 100 percent that day.”
Lubowitz said he has spoken in front of a number of groups. “I spoke at my alma mater, Upper Dublin High School, and a few weeks later an envelope arrived at my home with over 30 notes of thanks from students. Those notes had an impact on me.”
I asked Lubowitz what message he would like to convey to school administrators to better deal with students’ potential substance abuse. He said, “Schools need people on staff who can better relate to the kids, and educate them to the dangers of drugs.” He also said that they should invite more of their graduates who recovered from addiction to speak to their students about how drugs can ruin their lives.
To all students, Lubowitz said, “When chasing your dream, don’t give up if you run into hard times. Push through it, and don’t be afraid to ask for and listen to advice. You can obtain anything you want as long as you are willing to put in the work. Never give up.”
Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership. He is a speaker, advisor and nationally syndicated writer on leadership, entrepreneurship and corporate governance. Silverman earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering and an MBA degree from Drexel University. He is also an alumnus of the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School. He can be reached at Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com.