When Eric Spofford stepped down as CEO of Granite Recovery Centers and served as executive chairman in March, he also resolved to put the substance use disorder treatment company on the market and find a buyer. On Tuesday, he signed a deal making the sale official for an undisclosed price.
“I had a good career in it and I was looking for a change,” Spofford told Manchester Ink Link Wednesday.
The buyer is BayMark Health Services, a Lewisville, Texas-based SUD treatment company with more than 300 facilities in 35 states and three Canadian provinces. BayMark already has a presence in New Hampshire, with Suboxone and methadone clinics in Hudson, Salem, Newington and Somersworth.
Spofford founded the Salem-based Granite Recovery Centers in 2008, just two years after becoming sober from an opioid addiction, with a small sober living home in Derry. He lived there with 11 other guys.
Over the years, Spofford grew the company to one of the largest SUD treatment providers in New England, with services in the full continuum of care, including detox, in-patient, intensive outpatient and sober living. Today, the company has 15 facilities, the largest of which is the Green Mountain Treatment Center in Effingham with 88 licensed beds, and over 300 employees.
Scott Sasserson, who has been CEO since Spofford stepped down, will continue on in that role, Spofford said, but the three-member board that included Spofford, Joe Matarese and Mark Prestipino of the MFO Group, has disbanded.
Spofford said selling the company wasn’t always part of the plan but he decided it was time to move on to other business opportunities, and perhaps take a rest from the often emotionally-taxing work of helping people at their most desperate, dealing with the life-threatening disease of addiction.
“It’s a good question. It’s one I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out myself,” Spofford said.
In 2019, a planned visit by then-Vice President Mike Pence to the company’s Salem headquarters was canceled at the last minute for mysterious reasons. Months later, Spofford learned it concerned one of the people Pence was supposed to meet that day; his chief business development officer and friend Jeff Hatch. It turned out Hatch was the subject of a 2017 drug trafficking investigation and ultimately pleaded guilty of transporting over a kilo of fentanyl into the state from Massachusetts.
Spofford had to fire his best friend.
Asked if that experience factored into his decision to sell the company, Spofford said “no,” he didn’t think so. That issue is now years behind him, he said.
BayMark was one of many prospective buyers.
“It was a competitive process, which BayMark succeeded in,” Spofford said. “I liked their vision for the company.”
Spofford said BayMark is expanding its residential treatment division through acquisitions nationwide, and he thinks Granite Recovery employees will have greater opportunities for advancement as part of the larger corporation.
Since December 2020, BayMark has added residential treatment facilities in Maine, West Virginia, Louisiana and Georgia, according to a press release.
In a press statement, BayMark CEO David K. White said providers in the SUD treatment sector have seen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health in America.
“Drug overdoses in 2020 reached the highest numbers ever recorded by the CDC after efforts to slow the opioid epidemic had begun to show a positive impact,” White said. “Our programs offer a choice of proven treatment options so patients can decide between an abstinence-based treatment model or the use of medications, along with counseling, at a variety of levels of care available to serve each patient’s unique needs.”
Moving forward, Spofford said he intends to focus on his real estate development business, Spofford Enterprises, which is also based in Salem.
Spofford said he recently signed a deal to build 80 housing units in Swanzey and is in conversations with other communities about developing apartment buildings elsewhere in the state. He is still going through the local permitting process to build a 60-to-65-residential-unit mixed-used development at 109 Rockingham Road in Derry, on the site of a former scrapyard.
Spofford is also planning on launching a new business called Premier Transportation Group which will provide cars and training for Uber drivers in southern New Hampshire. He said he just bought the first car for the fleet this week and expects to begin operating in January.