Red Door Pediatric Therapy:
A Successful Dakota Business Lending Borrower

Jul 17, 2020


Heather Arnt and Kelli Ellenbaum had been joking about starting their own private practice since they met as freshman at the University of North Dakota.

After attending almost every class together, the Speech-Language Pathologists parted ways after graduate to pursue job opportunities out of state in the school system. The two reunited a few years later to work together at the same practice and, eventually, the idea began to officially mold into a vision of their own practice. Fast forward to 2006, and Red Door Pediatric Therapy was open and ready for business….


“We’ve always had the same vision for our own private practice - to provide high-quality service in a smaller setting while maintaining a work/life balance. We knew we could work well together and make it a success…we soon realized it would grow in a way that neither of us ever envisioned.”

And before they knew it, Red Door was busting at the seams. 

After expanding its services to include Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Counseling Services, having office locations in both Bismarck and Minot and recently Grand Forks, and hiring an additional 36 employees, Heather and Kelli knew they would have to find a new facility to accommodate their growth. The duo set out on a search for a building to purchase and, after finding one, partnered with Dakota Business Lending and BNC National Bank to take the next step. “We knew that moving into a bigger space and purchasing a new building was a risk, so we started looking for ways to spread out our risk in a reasonable way,” explained Kelli. “Dakota Business Lending helped us do that.” Heather and Kelli utilized the SBA 504 loan program to finance the purchase, which offers below-market fixed rates for up to 25 years.

“The low interest rate with the SBA 504 loan, coupled with the ability to split the monetary backing between a conventional and 504 loan, was really advantageous for us. We’re very fiscally responsible and conservative people who like to know what is going on and what to expect…the SBA 504 program afforded us that luxury.”


Since the expansion, Red Door has continued to thrive. Their new building has given each of the employees a sense of ownership in their job and what they do, allowing them to continue to work together cohesively.  It has also increased Red Door’s visibility to the community and they consistently stay involved. Throughout the year, Red Door sponsors and attends many community walks such as the Walk for Down Syndrome, Walk for Apraxia, and the Light Blue event for Autism.


When it came time to expand again, this time to Grand Forks in the spring of 2020, Red Door once again partnered with Dakota Business Lending and BNC National Bank for the purchase of a building in that community.

For those looking to start or expand a business like Heather and Kelli, the two have learned this piece of advice: to take care of your employees and to offer them leadership opportunities. “We’ve been able to promote a lot of people in our company because of the work they have done and the strengths they have,” shared Heather. “Because of these, we’ve been able to take a step back from the speech pathologist side and take on more of an ownership role that’s been really rewarding.” As the opportunity to sit back and watch their team work together to serve these children and families arises, it has become among Heather and Kelli’s favorite parts.


Above all, Heather and Kelli were able to adapt the building to match their brand, including the installation of 4 eye-catching bright red doors that fit so well with their name.

“Growing up, our house had a red door because my mom believed everyone should have a door that people want to come in,” explained Heather. “Doors also represent opportunities,” added Kelli. “Not only an opportunity to communicate…but an opportunity to feel welcome, accepted, and appreciated. That’s what we’ve created.”

To learn information on Red Door Pediatric Therapy and the services they offer, visit their website.