Aveanna Healthcare Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: AVAH) has announced that Tony Strange, its CEO and director, will retire at the end of December.
Jeff Shaner – the company’s current COO – will take over as CEO and director, also effective at the end of December. Shaner has served as the COO of Aveanna since its formation in 2017. The company initially filed for an IPO in April of 2021.
“Tony’s leadership was a significant part of Aveanna’s formation and growth since its inception five years ago,” Aveanna Chairman Rod Windley said in a statement. “He leaves an enduring legacy of building one of the nation’s largest home care companies in America during an unprecedented pandemic. Tony’s steady and stable leadership was a welcome gift during troubled waters within our industry. It has been an honor working side by side with Tony at Aveanna and the many other companies during our career together.”
The Atlanta-based Aveanna provides home health, hospice and an array of pediatric services to both seniors and children in 33 states.
Indeed, Strange and Windley are longtime industry veterans and have worked together for years. Prior to Aveanna, the two helped lead together The Healthfield Group Inc. and Gentiva Health Services, the latter of which was Kindred at Home’s predecessor.
Both had high aspirations for Aveanna after its entrance onto the public market. The company was switching gears from being a primarily pediatric home health provider to one aiming to scale a senior-based home health model as well.
“We’re going to continue to do what we’ve always done — and that is build a very successful home care company, one that is diversified and different from our peers,” Windley told HHCN at the time, referring to him and Strange. “And one that will be here for years to come. We don’t have our sights set on being a $2 billion company. Our appetite for growth is much, much larger than that, and we think that there’s plenty of runway going forward.”
Since that time, however, it’s fair to say Aveanna has struggled. Outside of a couple of marquee home health acquisitions, it has had trouble finding its footing in a very tough operating environment for home health providers over the last year and a half or so.
With those struggles, its stock has trended consistently downward.
But the company does have a large footprint, improving hiring trends and an advantageous and diverse payer mix on its side.
There are reasons to believe Shaner – who has also been with Strange and Windley at previous stops – can turn things around in 2023 and beyond.
“The board and I are confident that under [Shaner’s] leadership, Aveanna will continue its transition into a new era of value-based care,” Windley said. “Jeff’s experience, passion and innovative mindset will serve Aveanna well as we look to the future.”
Multiple large players in home health care have had leadership changes of late.
Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED) turned the keys back over to its former CEO, Paul Kusserow. The Pennant Group (Nasdaq: PNTG), meanwhile, is now helmed by Brent Guerisoli after Danny Walker stepped down from its top spot in June.
“I am looking forward to this new leadership role as CEO and further building on the rock-solid commitment we have to clinical excellence and value creation here at Aveanna,” Shaner said in a statement. “Aveanna will continue with its mission, making a positive impact in the lives of the patients and families that we serve every day.”