Lipp, Carlson, Witucki, & Associates:
A Successful Dakota Business Lending Borrower
Jun 7, 2019
Drs. Brenda King and Jonathan Whalen have not only been spouses, but clinical psychologist partners, for many years.
This husband and wife duo gained majority of their medical experience working together at Lipp, Carlson, Witucki, and Associates – the first clinical psychology practice in the state of North Dakota – by offering CBT and psychodynamic therapy, hypnosis and EMDR, and other treatments in a variety of areas. But nothing could prepare them for finding themselves the sole partners of the business after 6 of their other partners moved out of the area. Now, they were faced with the challenge of working to not only sustain North Dakota’s first psychology practice, but rebuilding it into the thriving practice it once was. And it was up to the two of them to get this job done…
“There was a big shift. At one point, there were 8 partners in the business. Now, all of a sudden, there were two of us. We knew we needed to rebuild the practice and restore it to what it once was…”
To do so, Dr. King and Dr. Whalen had to get creative. They knew finding and hiring additional psychologists would be hard to do, so they decided to take a look at the business model and see what they could revamp to make their vision possible. This is when they came up with a new idea for the business: to hire employees, social workers, and other types of mental health professionals to complement the clinical psychology practice. Lipp, Carlson, Witucki, and Associates has always focused on one key value – community service and outreach – and what better way to do so than to invite other medical professionals into that! Because the existing practice was one of the primary referrals for the local medical community, the other health professionals were eager to jump on board. And thus, Lipp, Carlson, Witucki, and Associates found a way to survive.
But that was only the beginning. Now, Dr. King and Dr. Whalen needed to figure out how to restore the business back to its full potential. Looking at the business and where it was headed, the doctors knew exactly what their next step was in order to achieve this goal: to have their own building. This would provide them with a greater sense of security and flexibility that they needed to grow the business. Their only problem? Finding the financing necessary to make this purchase.
“By having our own building…we could have greater control over expenses and what we wanted to do with the building. It would give us a secure platform to work on building the business. Because we were rebuilding the clinic, however, we didn’t have the cash flowing coming in that we would need for a traditional loan.”
It wasn’t until Dr. King and Dr. Whalen’s banker at Alerus suggested the 504 small business loan through Dakota Business Lending that they saw their vision would be possible. This loan provided them with a longer term and lower, fixed interest rates that they needed to afford the building. “[Without the 504 loan], we never would have been able to buy the building,” shared Dr. King. “It truly was sort of a community service aspect to it too…where [Dakota Business Lending and Alerus] were fully behind us, seeing, and making us able to grow. We had really great support from them helping us see the financial picture and resources available that would fit the resources we have.” And with that, the doctors were able to continue on their way to restoring the business.
Today, it is evident that the hard work of Dr. King and Dr. Whalen has paid off. Just 1 ½ years later, Lipp, Carlson, Witucki, and Associates is bigger than it ever has been. It has grown larger than the doctors anticipated, so much so that they’re considering minor continued expansion in the future.
“We needed the confidence, and it’s just easier to have when you have your building. It’s amazing how we started getting flooded with ideas and changes we wanted to make after this. We definitely look at the business a little bit differently now that we’re owners.”
In addition, the couple is hoping to start doing community education events. They plan to reach out to the community, see what the needs are, and go from there. Overall, Dr. King and Dr. Whalen are looking at continuing to develop a unique business model, but an entire frame of mind in which they will build the rest of the business on.
And it’s all for their favorite part:
“It’s the people,” explained Dr. King. “We love the people. We love our clients. We love our employees. We feel so fortunate because we feel like we’ve got the best people in Grand Forks.”
Dr. King and Dr. Whalen credit a lot of their success to the support of others. From working with the accountants, to the bankers, to Dakota Business Lending, they have come to know and appreciate the resources that North Dakota has to offer.
For those who are planning to start or expand their own business, the doctors stressed the importance of forming those same partnerships. “There are more resources out there than you realize until you are in need of them…,” Dr. King explained. “Find your support team, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and search for those best kept secrets. They’re not so secret when you start paying attention to them.”