Dr. Richard Straus, a Georgia native, and his wife, Julie, a Cape Girardeau, MO native, met in August, GA while he was attending dental school. After graduation they planted roots and opened Midtown Dental Care in Columbus, GA, Although they were enjoying building their life and practice in Georgia, Dr. Straus promised Julie they’d eventually move back to her hometown, Cape Girardeau, MO. However, Dr. Straus knew the transition of owning a practice would be complex. didn’t envision a smooth transition.
“A transition to Cape Girardeau was going to be very costly and labor intensive. I would have had to start from the ground up again with a building or expensive leasehold improvements while trying to manage and sell a thriving practice in,” he said.
Lucky for him, things turned out better than he expected.
Fast forward nearly 28 years later, Dr. Straus and Julie started thinking about moving to Cape Girardeau. Julie was traveling and sat next to someone on an airplane who worked at Heartland Dental. He gave her his business card.
“I worked in the office and had seen a flyer about Heartland Dental on my desk, so this was the second time something about the company had come my way. It was great timing, because we were looking for a way to gain more support and balance with the office as we planned our transition,” said Julie.
Unbeknownst to Dr. Straus, his wife contacted the Heartland Dental representative she had met. She sent him business information and photos of the office. Julie and the affiliation representative quickly concluded that Heartland Dental’s support could be just what they were looking for. It was just a week before the Heartland Dental team came to visit when Julie filled Dr. Straus in on the potential support solution she found with Heartland Dental.
“I had never heard of Heartland Dental, so in the beginning I had more questions than I had answers. They completed a thorough analysis of our office and explained to me that the support they could offer would allow me to accomplish the personal and professional goals I had. I can’t explain exactly why, but it immediately felt like the right thing to do,” explained Dr. Straus, “I had been in practice 28 years, and it’s hard to work by yourself. The thought of not having to go at it alone was so exciting. They also told us that when we got ready to move back to Cape Girardeau, there would be an opportunity for me there. That played a huge role in the decision making.”
In May 2012, Midtown Dental Care became supported by Heartland Dental. After affiliating, Dr. Straus’ office continued to grow, but he was no longer feeling overwhelmed. Instead he was left feeling exhilarated, because at the end of the day, his day was over. He no longer had to worry about the business side of things.
“His whole attitude changed,” said Julie. “It was like he had another lease on life. It was a big change for him. He was revived.”
Over the years, Midtown Dental Care continued to thrive, but Julie was still on the lookout for opportunities in Cape Girardeau. That’s when she came across an advertisement from Dr. David Kaelin in the American Dental Association (ADA) Journal for an associate dentist at his office, Cape Girardeau Dental Care. She called Dr. Kaelin with the intention of securing the associate position for her husband. Going into the meeting, Julie knew two things for sure – She and Dr. Straus wanted to move to Cape Girardeau, but they weren’t ready to leave the Heartland Dental family.
“My front desk receptionist called me and said, ‘I have a dentist that’s wanting to talk to you about the associate ad, and she would like to meet you.” said Dr. Kaelin. “We setup a time to meet, and I’m sitting there thinking I’m talking to a dentist, and the more we talked she said, ‘I’m not the dentist – my husband is. Also, how do you feel about affiliating with Heartland Dental?”
Dr. Kaelin had never considered affiliating with a dental support organization, but Julie opened the door to that possibility. He listened to what she proposed and it peaked his interest.
“If this opportunity would have come any sooner, I’m not sure it would have worked out. At some point during our initial conversation Julie told me, ‘Affiliating with Heartland Dental is going to be a present with the biggest bow you can possibly imagine.’ Being supported by Heartland Dental and having Dr. Straus in the office, I’m truly blessed. It really was a gift.” – Dr. David Kaelin, practicing dentist at Cape Girardeau Dental Care in Cape Girardeau, Missouri
In December 2015, Dr. Kaelin and Dr. Straus met for the first time to discuss the open position, as well as what being supported by Heartland Dental would look like for Dr. Kaelin’s office.
Shortly after that encounter, Dr. Kaelin offered the associateship to Dr. Straus. He also began to seriously consider his future as part of the Heartland Dental network. After meeting with a team from Heartland Dental, doing his research and discussing the matter with his wife, Dr. Kaelin felt it was the right time and opportunity for him and his team. Soon after, Cape Girardeau Dental Care became supported by Heartland Dental in April 2016.
“One of the things that was amazing to me was how well our philosophies fit with Heartland Dental. What they have done for us more than anything is provide us with enhancements and opportunities that we may not have thought of. I grew the practice as far as I could by myself,” said Dr. Kaelin. “With Heartland Dental coming in, it uplifted me, because now I can really dive in to what the patient needs and not have to worry about all the other distractions.”
Dr. Kaelin’s staff was receptive to the change, and excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for them. They would have opportunities for advancement within Heartland Dental, as well as access to continuing education and a full benefits package.
“Throughout the entire decision making process, I was thinking about them too,” said Dr. Kaelin. “I was really happy that it went as well as it did.”
In July 2016, Dr. Straus and Julie finally made the move to Cape Girardeau, and Dr. Straus joined Cape Girardeau Dental Care with Dr. Kaelin. Heading into a new office, Dr. Straus didn’t know the materials Dr. Kaelin and his staff used, he didn’t know the names of the employees, he didn’t know what software they used, nor did he have a patient base – it was just different. However, everyone at Cape Girardeau Dental Care made Dr. Straus feel at home.
One of the perks Dr. Straus and Dr. Kaelin are enjoying most is the camaraderie.
“I’ve never observed anyone else, it was just me, and when you have the opportunity to see someone else’s mindset when they’re performing dentistry, you learn so much. You’re never too old to learn. I’m stretching my boundaries, and I know there’s somebody ready to help me if I need it, and vice versa,” said Dr. Straus.
“It’s fun doing things together and having somebody to bounce ideas off of who understands what you’re trying to achieve with your patient,” Dr. Kaelin added.
When offering advice to those considering support from Heartland Dental, each doctor had similar advice – Take a leap of faith, and be open to change.
“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I’m so thankful I got myself into it. If you listen to one piece of advice it would be to trust the people from Heartland Dental. They will make good on their promises. I’m living proof,” said Dr. Straus.
In the end, it’s all about timing. Timing brought Dr. Straus to Heartland Dental. Timing brought the two dentists together. Timing brought Dr. Kaelin to Heartland Dental, and timing brought Dr. Straus and his wife back to Cape Girardeau.
Dr. Kaelin said, “If this opportunity would have come any sooner, I’m not sure it would have worked out. At some point during our initial conversation Julie told me, ‘Affiliating with Heartland Dental is going to be a present with the biggest bow you can possibly imagine.’ Being supported by Heartland Dental and having Dr. Straus in the office, I’m truly blessed. It really was a gift.”