By Randy Arrington
LURAY, July 20 — Mitch Lovinger saw an opportunity five years ago.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been five years,” he told a small crowd gathered at his business this week. “Excel Therapy had been here 20-plus years. Valley Care Management (VCM) owned it and I was the rehab director when they moved out of it…I fell in love with the community, and people kept saying, ‘You can’t close’.”
The native New Yorker longed to be an entrepreneur and business owner again after launching several successful ventures in the past. He had served as the facility’s director and was confident in his ability to run the rehab center and in his abilities as an occupational therapist. However, he was concerned about certain elements of the operation like liability and insurance, which can be taxing on a small business owner.
So Lovinger joined forces with a larger provider to create ApexNetwork Physical Therapy.
“It’s a tough business,” he said. “So, I aligned myself with Apex, and they weren’t in the East.”
While ApexNetworks now has 90 locations in the U.S. spread out across 12 states, Lovinger opened the physical therapy company’s first site in Virginia.
On Thursday afternoon, local officials and supporters joined the staff of ApexNetworks Physical Therapy for a ribbon cutting hosted by the Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce to mark their fifth anniversary. The event took place just prior to a three-hour open house in which the rehab facility showed off its collection of exercise equipment, from free weights to a stationary bike and treadmill, and the area’s only indoor heated pool.
“Thank you for providing a service that was much-needed in this community,” Chamber President Gina Hilliard said.
Located on Leaksville Road just north of Luray High School, “ApexNetwork Physical Therapy provides individualized physical therapy in a relaxing and comfortable environment,” according to their website. “Known for remarkable results and a cozy feeling. The positive and encouraging team at ApexNetwork strives to develop a customized treatment plan to reduce pain, improve mobility and reduce future injuries.”
Adjacent to Whispering Pines Assisted Living, the Luray rehab facility features four full-time staff and a few part-time employees providing outpatient physical, occupational and aquatic therapy.
“I came here and I got better,” said Clancey Arnold, the Chamber’s Membership Development & Investment Administrator. “I felt like I was so welcome and taken care of…It’s because you have that family feel that people want to come here.”
After surviving his first year of business, Lovinger then navigated his way through the COVID-19 pandemic. The following year, he opened a second location in Bridgewater, where he employs five full-time staff members.
“We really focus on what the patient needs first…because we’re small and local, we don’t have to deal with what larger organizations have to deal with,” Lovinger said. “We have a great staff and they really are like family, and we all see patients as friends.”
ApexNetwork’s Luray site sees an average of 100 visits per week, and its small staff touts decades of experience.
“Our tag line is ‘We strive to be the best at rehab’…and I really believe that experience sets us apart,” the owner and occupational therapist said. “Between the clinicians we have in this building, there are 90 years of experience here.”
Despite being in Virginia for 30 years, Lovinger’s Long Island accent still clings to his dialect. However, he has been active in the Luray community and with the Chamber, where he is now a board member. His wife Valerie serves as an occupational therapist in the office. His two sites are now seeing nearly 250 visits every week.
And he holds no regrets for the decision he made five years ago to stay in Luray.
“I think Luray is a special place. I think it’s the people…I like to say ‘salt of the Earth’ kind of people…they have been very supportive of this facility,” Lovinger said. “And I love the outdoors, so there’s no place better.”
Treatments provided by ApexNetwork Physical Therapy include:
Apexnetworks Physical Therapy, located at 200 Leakesville Rd., Luray, is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8-4 on Fridays. For an appointment, call (540) 743-0502, send an email to LurayVA@ApexNetworkPT.com
or visit their website at https://apexnetworkpt.com/lurayva/