Robin Tucker Blankets the Area with Comfort and Careers
A National Women’s Small Business Success Story
Tucking her mother into bed each night quickly blanketed her into a successful small business for Robin Tucker. Tucked With Care provides around-the-clock, non-medical services, employing hundreds while delivering much-needed home-based assistance to seniors throughout the region.
When the pandemic first hit, the CEO and chief caregiver found herself in need of help – desperately searching for capital access to keep the business afloat. She found that and contracting advice from her local SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) district office.
“We weren’t getting paid fast enough by insurance companies to meet our large payroll,” Tucker explained. “We were in so much trouble, I cried. I started Googling, and the SBA popped up along with the email address for Dr. Kelly Hunt, the (federal agency’s) Pittsburgh district director.”
She poured her heart out in an email to Hunt, detailing how and why she started her business and the urgent need to obtain an SBA EIDL (Economic Impact Disaster Loan). To her surprise, Hunt answered the next day.
“Dr. Hunt wrote me back, worked with me to help me secure funding and save our company,” Tucker stated. “I was in shock because receiving the SBA EIDL was our cushion during the pandemic.” Tucker was one of the millions of small business owners across the country to receive this special SBA, long-term direct loan offering a 30-year payment plan and low-interest rate.
The lifeline was fitting for a woman whose mission is assisting others.
“Six years ago, we were told my mother had balance issues, the onset of dementia, and an underlying condition that could cause a stroke at any moment, “Tucker, now 59, recalled. “It was either a nursing home or 24-hour care. We made her retire, and my sister and I each took 12-hour shifts helping with housekeeping, meals, and bedtime.”
It was her mother, Carol, who encouraged Robin to start a business, hoping other aging seniors could receive the same services – even helping download forms and applications. That July, Tucker set up a desk in her sunroom and started her one-woman business, Tucked with Care, LLC, aptly named for the nightly ritual shared by mother and daughter.
Tucked With Care was approved as a home health care provider. On her mother’s birthday, it became a Medicaid Certified Home Care Agency in Pennsylvania – setting in motion the wheels for growth.
Six months later, Tucker’s daughters joined the business, adding customers to the roster while still caring for Carol Tucker. “My mother really wanted us to soar,” she said.
They did. One year later, the company registered its first million in sales, employing 15 – including her sister, who serves as the director of training.
“Our phone never stops ringing because there are so many people out there needing care and companionship,” Tucker explained. “We employ 180 caregivers serving 195 persons in eight counties and receive daily referrals for our team to help with cooking, cleaning, bathing, laundry, and errands. Our clients become family to us; we bond with them and learn from shared experiences whether it’s discovering a new card game together or a special recipe.”
SBA Western Pa. District Director Dr. Kelly Hunt said she’s pleased the EIDL program helped this small business survive and thrive. “Many of us have served as temporary caregivers and truly understand the kindness, necessity, and scope of their mission,” she said. “It’s so rewarding to learn my agency is impacting the lives of our senior citizens in such a positive way.”
Tucker is paying forward Hunt’s outreach, educating her community and professional contacts about the SBA’s commitment and programs designed to help small business owners and entrepreneurs start, grow, expand and recover. Her business growth is enabling Tucker to share her good fortune, too. “I awarded $45,000 in scholarships to students and caregivers,” she said. “All employees also received free short-term disability coverage for one year and free rideshare services –because they are my family.
Her seniors are benefitting as well. Tucker is providing amenities from hair stylists to rides.
“I recently purchased two vehicles and hired retired veterans as drivers enabling clients to leave their homes,” she explained. “They’re equipped to transport both wheelchairs and beds because, just like us, our seniors want to get out and go places.”
Tucker, who never pictured herself as a caregiver, now relishes the role.
“Nobody could have told me that I would be bathing people, but now it’s my passion,” she said. “Every door I walk through, I just picture my mom, and they’re no longer a stranger but family.”
About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow, expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.