Robert D. Hodgson
and President of
Rob Hodgson was a New Hampshire-based pharmaceutical salesman when he, like many baby boomers, was faced with caring for an aging relative. In this case it was his grandmother, Esther Dowding, who lived in Maitland and had been recently widowed. Hodgson’s father, William, a Vietnam veteran, was caring for Esther — who was still sharp as a tack but hobbled by arthritis — when he called his son with an idea. The elder Hodgson had come to realize that there was a growing need for a company that provided private-duty caregiving. “We should look into this and do something,” Rob Hodgson remembers his dad saying. “We should start a company. We should call it Granny Nannies.” So Rob and his wife, Kirsten, moved to Winter Park in 1990 and founded a company meant to help people in similar situations to their own. Since then, with demographics on their side, the Hodgsons have grown Granny Nannies into a nationwide company with 35 franchisees in 10 states. Today gross revenues are approaching $50 million. Granny Nannies (grannynannies.com), headquartered in Longwood, provides licensed private-duty caregivers who offer everything from basic assistance (errands, light housekeeping, meal preparation) to total care (bathing, toileting, range-of-motion exercising) for elderly clients who want to live independently for as long as possible. “We weren’t following anybody’s model,” Rob says. “We were doing this before it was popular.” He says the company’s financial success has been gratifying, but he gets the most satisfaction “by hearing how we’re helping families in times of need.” The Hodgsons, who live in the Vias neighborhood, have a son at Trinity Prep and a daughter at the University of Alabama. Rob enjoys restoring vintage cars, and has several projects underway at any given time. As for Esther Dowding, the woman who inspired Granny Nannies, she remained a satisfied client until her death in 2000 — at the age of 104.