After college, Lewiston native Danielle Snow and her now-husband left the state for a software engineer job for him with Hewlett-Packard in the San Francisco area.
They planned to stay for five years. Five turned into 20.
“Maine’s always had a tug for us and we’ve always thought about how to get back there,” said Snow, 42, senior vice president of patient care at Grand Rounds. “When I needed for our team (to open) an East Coast operations center, I went to our CEO: ‘I know Maine wouldn’t normally come up in our evaluation list, but give me a chance to prove to you that it could work.'”
Grand Rounds works with large employers, helping match their workers to doctors based on their medical needs. When it opened last year, the company brought Snow and a Maine native looking to come back, as well as a handful of others new to the area. Based in Bates Mill No. 6, it’s so far hired just over 40 people and is working on the next 10 to 15 now.
Snow, who’s been with the San Francisco-based company since 2013, said early last year, it started to feel like they needed to grow.
“I was seeing that two-thirds of our patients that we’re supporting and two-thirds of our customers are located east of the Mississippi,” she said.
With the time difference, it made sense to have a presence on the East Coast with them. Initially, they scouted southern Maine before Lewiston rose to the top.
“We have five core company values, one of which is to root for the team, and that was something that was really clear in the community — that everyone roots for each other there,” she said. “It felt like a place we could come, they would be rooting for us, we could root for the community as well.”
When Snow asked around the office, more than 20 people expressed interest in making the move. Physician and Maine native Gus Crothers came back happily, she said.
Maine native Meryl Fogg joined the company as the site director here.
“She was living in Chicago and working for JPMorgan Chase,” Snow said. “It was really nice to get someone else back to Maine who really wanted to be there.
“Since then, our help desk manager actually asked to relocate from San Francisco to Maine; we’ve had another one of our physicians relocate,” she said. “I understand two more people in the tech department have asked to move to Maine, so we’re hashing out details there.”
She had a natural draw — her family’s still here — but she gets why others would want to make the coast-to-coast move.
“For the first 10 years I lived in California, I didn’t know any of my neighbors,” Snow said. “It’s just very different. People are really yearning for connection to people again. I think Maine is one of those places that never lost that.”
Snow splits her time; she’s in Maine three weeks a month. Her husband, Derek, now working for LinkedIn, telecommutes from Maine one week a month and spends the rest of his time in California. Despite the hectic schedules, they’ve been eyeing a Lisbon Street property with a hope of potentially buying and renovating it.
“The community has been going through such a transformation; there is so much great stuff happening there,” she said. “It’s fun to watch and be a part of.”
The state is hoping to attract more people back to Maine as one solution to a low unemployment rate and worker shortage, and in Snow and Grand Rounds at least, it’s off to a good start.
Snow has two sisters. One had already returned to Maine a few years ago from Florida.
“When I let my other sister know that I was moving back, she was funny,” Snow said. “She, within a month, moved back (from North Carolina) and she’s taking over my family’s business so that my dad can semi-retire. So now the whole family’s back in Maine — which my parents love — and it’s been nice to see my niece and my nephew and get to take my nephew to football practice or ski lessons and just be part of their lives again.”