We often think of visionaries as individuals who have disrupted the status quo by creating new concepts and implementing change for the betterment of all. They breathe life into something previously non-existent. We think of a visionary as a person that has planned the future with imagination and wisdom and skills. With these classic definitions in mind, we are fortunate to have a visionary in our midst, Fletcher McCusker.
Born in Tucson and a University of Arizona graduate, Fletcher returned here after holding a very profitable position with a healthcare company. That was in 1996, and he was 47 years old. He had the vision for Providence Service Corporation. Despite having minimal investment capital of his own, he saw the need to bring mental health services into patients’ homes. In just 10 years, Providence was operating in 300 cities and posted revenues of $1 billion. As CEO, Fletcher took the company public and relocated Providence headquarters to Center City Tucson. He retired from Providence in 2012 and found himself asking the question, “What’s next?”
Working with the University of Arizona Tech Launch, he discovered a new passion, a potentially large business start-up that would combine medical and mental health care. With Fletcher as CEO, that company evolved and is now Sinfonia, integrative health and wellness facilities that combine medical and mental healthcare under one roof.
In addition to leading-edge wellness centers, another division is Sinfonia(rx), the largest provider of medical services for the world’s leading retail pharmacies handling 6 million calls per year. Sinfonia’s on-staff pharmacists, located in downtown Tucson, have assisted 50 million patients in discovering lifesaving pharmaceutical problems due to conflicting medical prescriptions.
And, to add one more layer to Fletcher’s visionary success, he sold Sinfonia to a New Jersey based medication risk management company, Tabula Rasa, on September 6, 2017!
Visionary Success Principles
What created Fletchers phenomenal success? The answer is in his business consistently delivered operating principles. They are:
- Surround yourself with people smarter than you
- Attract people who have really good ideas
- Don’t try to do everything yourself
- Find others to work that share your passion
- Create a sustainable business plan, there is no “Plan B”
- Give employees shares in the business
- Select the right people and get out of their way
- Operate with a decentralized authority structure; each business unit should have autonomy, authority and independent budgets
- Allow people to make mistakes
- Study the competitive landscape
- Be a real-time “pilot.” If something is not right, fix it; failure is not an option
- Create a collegial atmosphere
- Treat people with dignity and respect
Fletcher’s own definition of success is quite simple: “Success is making a difference in your community, in your workplace and for your family. It is the collection of successes that creates a legacy and leaves the world a better place.”
But, there is more to Fletcher McCusker’s success than meets the eye. According to Michael Deltch, Sinfonia’s CFO and the former CFO for Providence, Fletcher possesses significant success drivers. Deltch provided some deep insight.
“First of all, McCusker is understated,” he said. “He never promulgates his ‘celebrity’ nor does he boast about his photographic memory. Fletcher is a master at setting expectations and the first person I have ever known that brought business fragmentation (a much-discussed concept today) to fruition. And, Fletcher has more calculated courage than the average person. But, what is most notable through all the years and deals we have worked together, is that Fletcher has never demeaned or disgraced others, nor does he hold a grudge. Above all, he is a man of integrity and ethics.”
Visionary Leadership: Rio Nuevo
Rio Nuevo is an all-volunteer led non-profit. Rio Nuevo receives funding from authorized taxes (sales taxes called Tax Incremental Financing i.e. TIF funds) with the purpose of strategically investing in public and public/private projects to create a vibrant Tucson city center for business, urban, cultural, recreational and “vertical” (high-rise) development and improvements.
In 1999, voters approved the creation of Rio Nuevo. After years of mismanagement, a new state legislative bill reconstructed Rio Nuevo in 2010. In June 2012, Fletcher got the call from the President of the State Senate asking him to take the chairmanship of the organization. He did, and he went to work immediately. With a reconstituted Board of Directors, Fletcher began partnering with every developer downtown. That outreach has paid great dividends to the city. With Fletcher’s leadership, every $1 in tax funding for Rio Nuevo yields $10 of privately-funded investments in downtown projects.
The results in five years has been astonishing. To name just a few:
- The AC Marriott hotel which will soon have 136 rooms, rooftop pool, restaurant 200 space parking garage and nearly 6000 square feet of retail space.
- Caterpillar’s new headquarters is relocating in downtown Tucson. Caterpillar will create more than 600 jobs in the region over the next five years bringing employment to approximately a 1000 and have an economic impact of $600 million.
- The new Greyhound bus terminal located east at 801 E. 12th St. It is now in an ideal location since the terminal sits perfectly at the entrance to downtown Tucson.
- The Moxie Hotel by Marriott, a boutique hotel will significantly add to a vibrant nightlife scene on the east side of downtown.
- The City Park building located on Congress will have 5 stories with 15 retail and restaurant vendors on the first floor. The building will also include a bowling center, an event space, offices for Hexagon Mining, and a rooftop patio.
- The two-phased improvements for the Tucson Convention Center which have already occurred including new sound and video systems, concession stands, seat upgrades, lighting and numerous interior improvements.
And now to Tucson’s relief, there is a proposed plan with HSL properties for the renovation of the Hotel Arizona directly adjacent to the Tucson Convention Center. As one reporter stated, “Finally, we have a realistic deal to reopen the Hotel Arizona.” (Thanks to Rio Nuevo!)
With these accomplishments and his leadership chairing and on boards for The Fox Theatre Foundation, The Arizona Theatre Company, The Tucson Museum of Art, and many more…is it any wonder that McCusker is known as “Tucson’s Greatest Fan!”
When asked what is most meaningful in his life, Fletcher responded without hesitation.
“My wife, she is the most influential person in my life, and my son, who calls me every day,” he said. “We have a phenomenal connection! I am really lucky to have them in my life.”
Linda Drake is a freelance local business columnist.