After selling the Utah Jazz, Larry Miller Group makes its first health care acquisition

Sandy-based company buys chain of high-end home health and hospice centers.

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Gail Miller and Steve Starks, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019.

Larry H. Miller Group of Cos. announced Monday it is expanding into health care by purchasing a chain of high-end nursing care, home health and hospice centers spread over Utah and seven other states.

In unveiling the deal, Steve Starks, named CEO of the LHM Group in summer 2019, said buying Advanced Health Care Corp. for an undisclosed sum signaled a wider intent to grow and diversify the Miller portfolio of 80 sports, entertainment, automotive, finance, insurance and real estate businesses.

The acquisition also follows October’s news that Utah tech entrepreneur Ryan Smith, co-founder of Provo-based Qualtrics, would buy majority interest in the Utah Jazz and related assets from Gail Miller, owner and chair of the Larry H. Miller Group and widow of company founder Larry H. Miller, who died in 2009.

Advanced Health Care is a privately held company founded in Idaho two decades ago that operates 22 top-end patient care centers, including six in Utah. The centers offer short-term transitional rehabilitation, home health care and hospice services for a primarily elderly clientele, typically as they move from acute hospital care to home.

LHM Group spokeswoman Amanda Covington confirmed AHC was the first health care subsidiary acquired by the Sandy-based empire, which owns a share of the Utah Jazz, a chain of automotive dealership and other firms across the Intermountain West. She said talks on the acquisition had been in the works for “a couple of years.”

AHC centers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah offer luxurious settings and private suites with 24-hour nursing care, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation and fine dining.

The firm’s centers in Utah include Aspen Ridge and Aspen Ridge West in Murray, Aspen Ridge of Utah Valley in Orem and Pine View in South Ogden as well as centers in Salem and St. George.

In a news release, Starks called the acquisition “a wonderful start to the new year” and praised AHC’s “high-quality clinical and rehabilitation excellence,” its well-performing business model, and an experienced and long-tenured management led by its co-founders, siblings Dave and Brett Nattress.

A native of Pocatello, Brett Nattress operated two successful private Idaho-area orthopedic therapy clinics before co-founding AHC in 2001. He was sustained as a general authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2016.

Dave Nattress, who is the firm’s CEO, was a top executive for several large skilled nursing companies before co-founding AHC, which also has offices in Farmington’s Station Park.

AHC facilities are well rated on industry metrics for reducing hospital readmissions for its clients compared to national standards, earning it high rankings from Medicaid and other health care administrators.

In the release, the AHC founders said they were “drawn to the LHM Group based on their values, reputation, transparency, integrity and desire to do good.”

Starks also said AHC’s approach to inpatient rehabilitation and in-home health services matched Miller company values and focus of improving people’s lives.