For Lance Westcott, establishing his physical therapy center seven years ago in downtown Los Altos was more than just a stab at becoming a business owner – it was a homecoming.
Born at El Camino Hospital and raised in Los Altos, Westcott is founder of Westcott Physical Therapy at 240 Second St. – the former home of the Los Altos Coffee Shop. A former Bullis-Purissima Elementary and Egan Junior High student, Westcott conceded that he didn’t necessarily expect to call Los Altos home again when he embarked on his professional career.
“I’m very fortunate – very blessed,” said Westcott, who graduated cum laude from Lee University in Tennessee with a degree in biology before earning a master’s degree in physical therapy from UC San Francisco in 2003. “I never thought I would be in downtown. That wasn’t my ambition when I first thought about opening my own practice. My ambition was that I wanted to control my own schedule and I wanted to be able to have more authority over what I did.”
A new venture
Westcott – whose center specializes in orthopedic, neurological, sports rehabilitation and pediatric therapy – said the idea of opening his own practice stemmed from his experience working part time at the now-defunct Star Physical Therapy Clinic in Mountain View. At the time, Westcott also worked as a physical therapist at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Redwood City.
“I got the experience of being in a small clinic doing it all by myself,” he said of working in the Mountain View clinic. “After about a year there, I thought, ‘I don’t know why I’m working for somebody else. I’ll just do it for myself.’”
Westcott resigned from both jobs and ventured out on his own, enlisting help from his father – a commercial real estate developer – to track potential sites for his startup center. His search eventually led him to the old Packard Foundation building, where he spent the first year establishing his business.
“I found a cheap place that was kind of hidden,” Westcott said. “You couldn’t really see me, but it worked out OK.”
Seeking a more visible presence in the downtown area, Westcott relocated his business a year later to its current location, the former home of a familiar childhood establishment: the Los Altos Coffee Shop. Westcott said the move further helped him plant his business roots in Los Altos, and the increased visibility near Second and Main streets has proven advantageous.
“Coming here has been so huge,” Westcott said of moving into the downtown building that sat vacant for six months prior to his taking occupancy.
For the first few years, Westcott said the center had people come in all the time asking, “I’m supposed to meet somebody at the coffee shop. Where did it go?” It took approximately two years for people to realize that the coffee shop was no longer there.
Westcott – who met his wife, Mandy, also a Los Altos native, at Walden West Camp during elementary school – added that having a name recognizable to old friends and neighbors has helped his business.
Westcott recently added another Los Altos native to his staff when Tricia Clark, a Los Altos High graduate and former water polo standout, joined his team of therapists.
“It’s been great being in a town where we’re known. ... I’m even treating my old pediatrician,” said Westcott, who resides in Mountain View with his wife and four children.
As for the future, Westcott, a former baseball player who pitched in high school and college, said he’s given some thought to expanding his business in Los Altos by opening a sports performance center and providing more in-depth therapeutic services for local athletes. For now, he’s pleased that his professional career steered him back to the place where he grew up.
“It’s been fun,” he said of returning to Los Altos. “It’s been a great experience – better than I pictured.”
For more information, visit westcottpt.com.
Westcott Physical Therapy - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier