Gabriel O’Sullivan, D.C.
Joining the family business
Chiropractic has always been my calling –Dr. Gabe
Some professional relationships are forged at an early age. Gabriel O’Sullivan, D.C., grew up with chiropractic. His stepfather, David Ivey, D.C., a 1976 graduate of Sherman, has been in practice in Upstate South Carolina for more than 30 years and was a technique instructor during the early days at Sherman. The father and son now work together in Spartanburg, SC.
Their office in Spartanburg, as well as another in Simpsonville, SC, is very much a family affair. O’Sullivan’s mother, Shyrl, works in both offices, and his wife, Ryanne, is a CPA who also works in the practice. O’Sullivan, who graduated from Sherman when he was just 23, feels that he has “grown up” in his father’s style of practice and enjoys the family atmosphere.
“My mom married Dr. Ivey when I was a year and a half old. He raised me, and I grew up around chiropractic my entire life. I fell in love with it,” O’Sullivan says of a childhood that included hanging around Sherman’s technique rooms, playing on adjusting tables and getting adjusted “all the time.”
He says that from an early age, he saw how much his father helped people and how much time he was able to spend with his family on weekends and taking family trips. O’Sullivan and his two brothers relished the family time that their father’s work schedule afforded them all. It’s not that as a young boy he didn’t have the normal dreams that all children have — being a fireman, a professional athlete — but he knew those weren’t his career path. “I knew what I wanted to do. Chiropractic has always been my calling.”
O’Sullivan spent two years at Clemson University, a school he had always dreamed of attending, to get his prerequisites before enrolling at Sherman to complete the D.C. degree. The enthusiastic young chiropractor graduated in September 2001 and began working in his father’s office in July 2002. During the time he’s worked with his father, he has progressed from being an associate to a partner in the practice, evidenced by a name change from Ivey Chiropractic Clinic to Ivey-O’Sullivan Health Care Services, PA. Along the way, he’s learned a great deal about what it takes to have a successful business relationship with family.
“When you’re working with family, you always give each other a little more help than you would with others,” O’Sullivan says of the work relationship. “If I have to be off or Dad has to be off, we’re always willing to work for each other. And certainly there’s the opportunity for us to have good discussions and work through any tensions.”
The communication process is the key to any good working relationship, O’Sullivan says, but especially when working with family members. One piece of advice that he gives to those considering joining a family practice is to know what you want out of a practice before you go into it. “You need to discuss your goals and your practice philosophy, get that squared away before you enter into a partnership,” O’Sullivan says, noting that he and his father could have saved a lot of marketing dollars if they had gone through that process earlier.
“My dad has been generous with me, but it’s important for anyone coming into a practice to know where he will stand financially, short term and long term, and to know that your practice goals are compatible.”