Johnson Family Dentistry:
A Successful Dakota Business Lending Borrower
Jan 21, 2022
Dentistry is in Dr. Kirsten Andrews' blood.
Her father had been operating his own dental practice –Johnson Dental Clinic - in Devils Lake, ND since 1977.
But wasn’t until Dr. Andrews had a positive, firsthand experience of her own that she decided to follow his footsteps and pursue the field herself.
After graduating dental school in 2007, she moved back to her hometown and bought her father’s practice. He worked alongside her until 2015 when he fully retired from dentistry. She’s been serving her hometown community ever since.
“I didn’t always want to follow in my father’s footsteps, but while I was working for a consulting company in Boston, I had a root canal done. That dentist took me from excruciating pain to comfort, and I thought that I could do that for other people: take them from a miserable situation and make them feel better. A light switch went on in me and I knew I had to become a dentist.”
By 2013, Dr. Andrews realized she was in need of a larger space to property serve her patients. The business was leasing a building at the time, and Dr. Andrews knew that if she wanted to continue to grow the business, she would need a building for Johnson Family Dentistry to call its own. She had a building picked out – all she needed was the financing to make the purchase.
Dr. Andrews partnered with Dakota Business Lending and Ramsey National Bank to create a financing package unique to her needs. Through this partnership, she took advantage of the SBA 504 loan program, which offers a low-down payment and longer terms at a fixed, below-market interest rate, to purchase a bread store, build an addition, and convert it into a new dental office. She also secured a DMF IRP loan, a direct loan program from Dakota Business Lending, to purchase equipment for her practice. Forward Devils Lake also provided financial assistance to Dr. Andrews throughout the expansion project.
“I can fix teeth but I’m not a numbers person, so this partnership was instrumental in helping me move forward. The interest rates were comfortable for me and while the process took a while, it was very seamless. The process of getting a loan and building my dream office was made a lot easier because of Dakota Business Lending.”
One thing Johnson Family Dentistry prides itself on is the use of technology throughout various dental procedures. Dr. Andrews has done significant traveling and continuing education to help make her practice as dynamic as possible, allowing her patients to receive quality care in rural North Dakota. “Devils Lake doesn’t have any specialist in town, so many of the more involved or invasive dental work would typically get referred to a specialist,” Dr. Andrews explained. “Because of our use of technology, we are able to do a lot of that work right in our office.”
Among these are the ability to place dental implants, crowns in just one visit, laser removal for tongue ties and lip ties, and sleep dentistry.
Since the expansion, Dr. Andrews has added an associate dentist – Dr. Deanne Webster, local to Devils Lake – and worked to continue to grow her practice. Not without a few challenges though…
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, dentists throughout the Devils Lake community decided to shut down for six weeks. Since then, Dr. Andrews has had to learn how to manage her finances, patients, and staff throughout a shutdown. After opening six weeks later, she had to learn how to resume and optimize her operations in a different (and safe) way (read more here).
If there’s one thing that Dr. Andrews has learned throughout her journey as a small business owner, it’s that you can’t do it without a wonderful team surrounding you. She encourages any other small business owners to find a network of support.
“I’ve had to rely on so many of the resources that the dental profession has provided me through the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to reach out and ask as many questions as you can. Find out what other businesses in the industry are doing and stay in close contact.”
While the journey hasn’t been easy, the results are incredibly rewarding to Dr. Andrews.
“I feel like I’ve become a better leader throughout this whole process. I’ve learned to make some tough decisions and take leaps that I wouldn’t have before. The rewards of being a business owner have been incredible, and I hope to inspire others to do the same.”
This article was written by Dakota Business Lending with permission from Johnson Family Dentistry and is not to be edited or redistributed without permission.