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Express Medical Transporters founder launches competitor

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After selling Express Medical Transporters Inc. in 2014 for $26 million, Bernie Squitieri is launching a competing fleet of vans.

St. Louis resident Squitieri said he formed Transportation Solution Services LLC this month to directly complete with EMT, which he founded in 1996 in the St. Louis area. He later expanded the service to Springfield in 2009 and had offices in 11 states by the time of the sale.

“I took about 95 percent of the purchase price in cash, and there was about a 5 percent hold-back which represented a $1.3 million note,” he said. “The owners had to pay me every quarter a certain amount for five years. They made the first payment to me in September of 2016 and then defaulted on the rest of the payments.”

EMT currently is owned by EMT Holdings, Squitieri said, with St. Louis-area investor Mark Sneider as chairman. Sneider and other EMT officials could not be reached this morning for comment. The company has 300 employees, according to its website, and provides more than 1,600 non-emergency medical rides per day for some 1,000 organizations.

Squitieri said he forgave the debt in exchange for a release of his noncompete agreement, which covered the entire country.

“I paid $1.3 million to get back into the business early,” he said.

Squitieri leased an office in the Westport area of St. Louis and hired 14 employees, with plans to reach 45 workers by March. He also is training five staffers with plans to open a Springfield office by October, with the intention of employing 25 locally by early 2019.

He said the Springfield staff would include employees drafted from EMT.

“So, there will be well-experienced management and drivers,” Squitieri said.

Transportation Solution Services, like EMT, provides nonemergency medical transportation, and has three contracts signed in the St. Louis area, Squitieri said. He said a focus for the new company will be working for school districts, transporting students who live in temporary housing. School districts are required to provide transportation to these students, he said, under the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987. He estimates there are 350 students in the St. Louis area in need of this service.

Squitieri said he also will bid on Department of Veterans Affairs contracts, taking vets to and from doctors’ appointments.

No stranger to the industry, Squitieri also said he bought Abbott Ambulance Inc. in 2004 for $8.5 million and sold it in 2014 for an undisclosed sum.

“Over the year last 15 to 20 years, I’ve probably owned five or six taxi cab companies and airport shuttle companies,” he said.

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