Conn. dentist transitions from practitioner to entrepreneur

2014 08 26 12 15 22 49 Schwab Gregory 200

When it became difficult for W. Gregory (Greg) Schwab, DMD, to continue serving his patients because of ongoing physical issues, he sought to use his expertise in a way that would allow him to stay connected with dentistry while transitioning to becoming an entrepreneur. After carefully examining different opportunities, the Connecticut-based Dr. Schwab has aligned with Tralongo, a dental management acquisition firm in Atlanta, to find and acquire practices in Connecticut, marking out a career path that keeps him involved in what he is passionate about.

W. Gregory Schwab, DMDW. Gregory Schwab, DMD

Dr. Schwab took a few minutes out of his schedule to talk with DrBicuspid.com.

"I was a general practitioner and partner in a group, family, multispecialty practice," he said. I was only 44 or 45 years old when I stopped practicing chairside to try to alleviate the discomfort and pain."

He considered different entrepreneurial options, but as he listened to his peers and analyzed practices, he realized he wanted to stay in dentistry.

"During that time, I looked at a number of different businesses and ended up coming full circle and decided to stick with what I know but in a different manner," Dr. Schwab said. "I started to investigate purchasing different practices, and running and managing them, which is when I became connected with Tralongo."

The Atlanta-based firm provides acquisition support and also back end and practice management support.

What makes Dr. Schwab's approach different from other practice acquisition models is that he wants the dentist-owner to stay on and he's not looking to brand practices. He said keeping the owner-dentist on is key.

"We are looking for proven winners who are doing a minimum of $1 million a year that have between three to five chairs," he said. "The key to the whole recipe is that the doctor stays on."

The practices Schwab is considering are those whose owner-dentist is beginning to think about how they are going to retire.

“I am looking to provide an exit strategy for dentists who are beginning to start to think about how they are going to phase out and sell their practice, which is their biggest asset.”
— W. Gregory Schwab, DMD

"I am looking to provide an exit strategy for dentists who are beginning to start to think about how they are going to phase out and sell their practice, which is their biggest asset," he said.

Dr. Schwab noted that seemingly many of his colleagues followed one path to retirement.

"Typically dentists will say, 'It's time to hang it up, time to sell,' and go to, say, Florida," he said. "[These dentists] engage a practice broker who evaluates the practice, and then typically tries to transition the practice to the new owner after the sale. The previous owner-dentist may stay on for a little while, but then they leave because the new dentist wants to take over the practice."

Schwab said he is looking for the dentist who may want to stay involved and continue serving their patients.

"My model is not necessarily the dentist who is 65 and ready to go down to Florida. Some dentists who might be ready to sell their practice would like to stay on and work a couple of days a week," he said. "I help them bring in an associate that they can work together with and maybe offer them a better price for their practice than they would get if they held on for a few more years."

Many dentists may hold on to their practices for too long, which could reduce the value of the practice, he noted.

The early response Dr. Schwab has received has been positive.

"Many dentists like this idea," he said. "We all love what we do. The current practice owners can work a couple of days a week and have so much more freedom. This [arrangement] allows them to both cash out and to continue to work as long as they want."

Dr. Schwab already has a letter of intent to purchase a Connecticut practice.

"Our timetable is to acquire five practices in five years, about one new practice every 12 months or so," he said. The plan right now is that we are going to keep the name of the practice that suits the environment. We're not looking to create eponymous businesses. "

If you are interested in contacting Dr. Schwab, his website is williamspracticemanagement.com.

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