“I like that Benesch will dial up or dial down their services as we need them. They accommodate our business seamlessly.”
CEO & Founding Partner
North American Dental Group
Any leader knows the inevitable ebb and flow of the business. For North American Dental Group, that might mean closing multiple deals in some quarters and carrying on “business as usual” in others. Ken relies on Benesch throughout the cycle, dialing up when matters are pressing—acquisition, employment matters, regulatory requirements, tax matters—and dialing back when his in-house team is taking the lead. It’s a flexible relationship that puts the needs of the business first.
Below is a testimonial from Ken Cooper, CEO & Founding Partner of North American Dental Group.
Tell me how the business got started
In 2008, I was brought in as a financial consultant to a dentist who was buying out his retiring partner. Through the process of helping that dentist develop a business plan to create a financing resource, I started to research the industry and recognized that dental was a fast-growth area of health care. The opportunity and potential for a group environment and multisite, multidental support organization was still revealing itself, and it was very early in the history of the industry. Through that consulting role, the business plan was born and built into what it is today, North American Dental Group.
How does your business work?
We're basically a full-service back-end support organization that supports and develops dental offices. We typically work with our Dentists to acquire an existing dental office, provide all the back-end services for that office, and allow our Doctor partners to focus on Dentistry rather than business administration. Our typical client could be a mid-career dentist looking to relieve him/herself of management responsibility. It could be a late-career dentist looking for succession planning. It could be a brand new dental grad looking to pay off a school loan and partner with a broader organization that can provide the experience and depth to grow the individual practice.
As far as other staff that may be in the office, such as a receptionist or dental assistant, do you provide those?
Between the Management Company and our affiliated PC’s, we support every aspect of the business. We centralize the finance, accounts payable and receivable, HR, IT operations—the full business life cycle. We also have a patient service call center. The only thing we do not provide is the dental care.
It really allows the dentist to focus on dentistry. It’s prudent for the businesspeople to handle the business aspects and the dentist to handle the clinical aspects.
How did you get started working with Benesch?
As we continued to scale as an organization, sometime in 2013–14 we worked with a recruiting firm in Cleveland that helped us retain our current CFO, Valarie Campbell. At that time Val and I began interviewing law firms to represent the business, some that were in our region, and some of the larger New York City and Chicago firms. Val had a long-standing close relationship with Benesch from her previous employer, and I also had a previous relationship with Benesch through my previous industry experience. We felt that Benesch had a lot of the same attributes as the larger firms, but they were right here in our backyard, and it was nice to be able to utilize that capability here in the region.
I know you work with Ira Kaplan, do you work with anyone else at Benesch?
We work with a broad team—Frank Carsonie on the regulatory side, Kelly Skeat on mergers & acquisitions, Rick Tracanna on tax planning and strategy, Steve Moss on HR/employment, Rob Ondak on real estate—and I'm probably leaving some people out. Most of the legal needs of the organization are handled by one of the folks at Benesch.
What kind of things are they helping you with?
One of the things I like about working with Benesch is they'll dial up or dial down their services as we need them. So if we’re in a heavy acquisition period, we can look at Benesch as sort of an outsourced, in-house development team for us as far as contract negotiations and helping us close multiple transactions in a certain quarter. If it’s a light quarter, we’ll use them sparingly, ad hoc as needed. We’ve found that we can dial Benesch up to full day-to-day according to whatever is pressing—acquisition, employment matters, regulatory requirements, tax matters—or we can dial them back when our workload is being handled well internally. They’ve been able to accommodate those situations pretty seamlessly with us.
Do you have any sort of unique challenges in your business or in your industry?
We do; we have the corporate practice of medicine (CPM) laws and the regulatory environment around those. It’s not unique to health care, but unique specifically to how we have our business established. Benesch has a strong grasp of how to help us navigate that.
They also provide a lot of experience in corporate structuring. We’re private equity-supported, and Benesch does a good job of helping us navigate the structuring around that.
Benesch really pursues excellence and client satisfaction. We have a lot of quality assurance calls; if there’s an issue or things aren’t going as planned, they’re very quick to course-correct and get everyone together to figure out how can we improve. It’s a continuous refinement process that Benesch is good at and that has helped us establish and continue to grow the relationship.