The Ninja Dentist Reveals Her Training Ground

Customer Spotlight: Dr. Walker
By: Kyle Patton, Dentaltown Magazine June 2015

As a dentist, you spend most of your time at your practice. It’s understandable that you might not get many opportunities to see what it’s like in another doctor’s office. That’s why we bring you an “office visit” six times a year. It’s a chance for you to meet your peers, see their practices and hear their stories. This month we caught up with Dr. Desirée Walker, a North Carolina native who balances being a full-time dentist with competing on the hit television show, “American Ninja Warrior.” You won’t want to miss how this doc has transformed her office into a ninja training ground.

What was the path you took to becoming a dentist?
Dr. Walker: I grew up in a small rural town in North Carolina. I thought going to the dentist was cool and viewed it like a mini field trip to an amusement park. I was just fascinated by the experience: the chairs that went up and down with all the gadgets, the bowl I got to spit in, the nice lady who cleaned my teeth and then gave me a toy and toothbrush.

Growing up, I never realized that so many people were scared of—or dreaded—going to see the dentist. I was always happy to see mine. He was a nice older man—like a granddad—who wore plaid bell-bottoms and told me I had a nice smile. My positive experiences at the dentist as a patient made me curious about dentistry as a career.

I actually invented a piece of dental equipment when I was 8 years old. My friend had a loose baby tooth that would not come out. We were both gymnasts and I had an indoor pull-up bar, on which we spent hours practicing. I came up with an ingenious plan that she willingly agreed to—I have no clue why. I had her stand on a chair placed right under the pull-up bar. I tied a short piece of string around the tooth, and then the other end around the bar. I had her grab the bar and I took away the chair. She was hanging in chin-up position with her tooth tied to the bar.

Soon into the plan she changed her mind, but before she could sputter out the words, “Get the chair,” her arms gave way, she dropped down, and the tooth came out. It was dangling from the string, still attached to the chin-up bar.

I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I had helped my friend with my pull-up-bar tooth extractor. She was a tad stunned and so glad her tooth was out. We went right back to playing on the bar, with the tooth still dangling.

What’s the story behind you going from dentist to gymnast to … ninja dentist?
Dr. Walker: My official transformation to a “ninja dentist” occurred on a Saturday afternoon while bonding ortho brackets on my husband.We were in the office alone and I received a call with a Hollywood area code. I do not normally take calls during patient care, but since the call was from Hollywood and the patient was my husband, I quickly de-gloved to see who was on the other end.It happened to be the producers from the hit NBC television show, “American Ninja Warrior.” They wanted me to compete. I had submitted an application and video months earlier but had forgotten all about it, especially with the demands of a ground-up, start-up practice in its four-month infancy.

My jaw dropped. I had three weeks before I had to travel to Miami to compete on the show. It was the athletic thrill of a lifetime.

Six years earlier, back in dental school, I would never have dreamed about this opportunity. I was not in athletic shape and was suffering from severe chronic back pain. The pain was so severe that I had to wear a specialized back brace daily to get through the rigors of clinic and class. I even had to wear it to get a good night’s sleep.

The pain was debilitating and I had thoughts of dropping out of dental school altogether, but instead I decided to change. Instead of trying not to move my body to avoid pain, I began to move again, but differently.

I went back to one of my childhood passions. I returned to gymnastics and joined the club gymnastics team on campus. Most important, I added movement breaks in my day, which included stretching and mobility exercises in between clinic and classes. There was no eureka moment when I became pain-free. It was gradual healing process. Dedication and consistency to my new movement and mobility routine were critical to my becoming pain-free.

At the end of the day I was going home with no pain, and getting stronger. The pain relief not only improved my clinic and school performance, but also made me want to challenge myself even more, athletically.

I began entering fitness competitions. Within two years, I was a national champion and professional fitness competitor.

I installed gymnastics training equipment in my home—I had rings and rope mounted from the ceiling in my living room, and wall bars and a balance beam in my training room. I competed as a 33-year-old for one season alongside some of the girls I coached. It was a thrill to relive those gymnastics competition days.

I made a huge professional decision to build and open my own dental practice. It was having my own practice that allowed me to integrate movement into my day. I installed rings, stall bars and yoga mats in my private office. I surrounded myself with a constant flow of movement and inspiration that made me feel good. Feeling good allowed to me to progress into more complex “ninja” workouts.

Click here to read the full article on Dentaltown Magazine.
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Financing Options for Your Next Rink Expansion or Upgrade

By: Sara Hodon

Whether you’re upgrading your rink’s lighting or sound system, or planning a major expansion and adding a number of new offerings to attract new customers, business enhancements need capital. If you’ve never pursued a business loan before, the process can seem daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Lenders who understand the needs of small businesses offer a number of financing options that can help operators take their rinks to new levels.


Click here for the full article.

Live Oak Bank Offers FEC Loans Between $25K and $350K

Live Oak Bank now offers loans between $25,000 and $350,000 that can be used for renovations, remodels, acquisitions, games and attractions, merchandise and equipment purchases. This eLending program offers approvals within 48 hours of receiving documents, little to no equity requirements, fast closings (generally within 30 days), no prepayment penalties, 10-year terms (fully amortizing, no balloons), capped closing costs and low rates.  Live Oak’s innovative technology has made the loan process transparent and efficient so they can get the funds to you fast – and you can get back to business. Standard loan programs up to $5,000,000 are also available.

“If you are interested in modernizing, adding new attractions to your center or making game and equipment purchases this eLending program is a quick and simple solution to traditional lending. Live Oak invites you to call and discover what it’s like to work with a team that is dedicated to the Amusement industry.” Says Ben Jones, FEC Domain Specialist at Live Oak Bank.

About Live Oak Bank 
Live Oak Bank was founded in 2008 to provide small business loans to professionals across the country looking to start or expand their businesses. Aside from acquisitions and refinancing, Live Oak’s lenders specialize in real estate loans and ground up construction projects. The bank originally began lending to veterinarians and has since expanded not only into other healthcare-related industries, but into specialty areas as well. Having such a keen industry focus and trade specialists on board enables the bank to offer an exceptional level of service to the client. To learn more about the Live Oak Bank difference, please contact one of our FEC team members.

Ben Jones, Domain Specialist, (910) 798-1210
Kay Anderson, Director of Emerging Markets (910) 796-1678
Mike Cairns, Senior Loan Officer (910) 550-2915

Click here to learn more about FEC equipment financing. 


Webinar: Trends Call for Change

Trends Call for Change: What You Can Do to Stay Ahead
Presented by: Tim Bridgers and Walker Posey

There has been much discussion over recent years about the changes in the funeral industry. From families’ preferences to transitions in ownership, funeral home owners have more than ever to consider when planning and running their businesses. During this webinar, Tim Bridgers, with Live Oak Bank, and Walker Posey, with the South Carolina Funeral Directors Association, take a comprehensive approach to the changes in the industry and what’s required to stay ahead of the trends.

Download the presentation here.

Questions about financing? Contact Tim Bridgers ( at 910.685.7446

Hotel Business Owners and Developers Executive Roundtable

At the 2015 Hotel Business Owners and Developers Executive Roundtable, Hotel Business asked industry experts—Elliott Estes of Woodmont Lodging, Brian Quinn of Red Lion Hotel Corporation, Mike Muir of Live Oak Bank and Norman Jenkins of Capstone Development—about lessons learned from the previous down cycle that could be applied in the next one.


A Live Oak Bank Customer Success Story – Central Washington Pediatric Dentistry

Amy and Neal Smith of Central Washington Pediatric Dentistry

Sometimes, life throws you curve balls. While you may have learned that it helps to adjust your swing accordingly, it’s easier to hit a home run when teammates have your back. Take Neal and Amy Smith, high school sweethearts, who grew up in the same hometown and completed college and dental school together. When they decided to open their own dental practice, an errant ball or two came out of left field – but thanks to their partnership with a unique lender, they still managed to win the game.

A Dream Begins

With dental school behind them and bright futures before them, the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health alums decided to pursue additional dental training. The couple completed residencies in their home state of Washington, before finishing a loan repayment program at a local Community Health Center. With their educational debts lowered, Drs. Amy and Neal were ready for the next step.

Desiring to open their own practice, the couple banked on conventional wisdom for a strategy – rent a building in their home town of Yakima, WA. After all, they had family there and they knew the area well. With sights set on a particular rental space, it seemed that their plan was well on its way. But the couple soon learned that leasing wasn’t going to be their best bet.

Faced with lease terms that didn’t allow tenants to make structural changes – which included plumbing modifications necessary for a dental office – Neal and Amy realized that their search for a suitable space would be a difficult one. That’s when a light bulb went off – instead of renting, the couple decided to build a practice from the ground up. Not only could they design the building to fit their unique, professional needs but the building itself could double as an investment.

Now came a new challenge – secure the financing needed to turn their dream into a reality. Amy and Neal asked colleagues for lender recommendations, which led them to Live Oak Bank. With full financing options, longer loan terms than conventional lenders, and appraisal flexibility, Live Oak fit the couple’s lending needs.

“When you start with no patients, you have no cash flow….having some flexible terms allowed us to get things going – as far as getting patients, generating some income – so we could sort of delay some of the big mortgage payments was certainly helpful,” Neal explained. He added that visits from lending team members from Live Oak’s NC headquarters were also beneficial.

“[They were] in constant contact to help walk us through the [loan] process,” Neal said. Real-time updates on where they were in the loan process also helped set a smooth course. “I felt like I didn’t have to worry about the finance part of it with the bank,” Neal said. “So that was huge for us because we had a lot of other things happening.”

Armed with customized options, obtained through a transparent loan process, the couple knew they could finally move forward. Amy and Neal experienced Live Oak’s level of customer commitment, which was second to none. 

In your corner

With construction underway – and a first baby on the way – Amy and Neal were thrilled. In the meantime, the couple saw patients in a sub-leased orthodontic office and at a second location in nearby Ellensburg, WA.

Then came a bump in the road. Pregnancy complications arose and Amy was confined to bed-rest. As Neal held down the Yakima and Ellensburg practices, they wondered how they’d juggle everything – and still keep their new building’s construction on-track. That’s where the benefits of Live Oak’s in-house construction team came in. Coordinating the construction plan with the contractor, architect and The Smiths, the construction team kept the project from missing a beat.

“They were super easy to work with, great communication, they got back to me quickly, so that made my life easier,” Amy said, reflecting on the difficult time. “And they would educate me on what things were. I felt very comfortable that they were really on our side and supported us through this process.”

Amy later gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Meanwhile, their new practice was born.

Room to grow

Today, Central Washington Pediatric Dentistry’s Yakima location has been open for a little more than two years. With five dental chairs in the office including a Mommy-and-Me infant exam room, Amy and Neal said that their building has plenty of extra space for room to grow. Two more chairs are on the horizon.

What’s more, their building has the potential to generate other income. Since it was designed with ample spare space, there’s enough room to rent an area of the building to a tenant.

While lessees and the like may be tentative for this husband and wife dental team, one thing is certain – Live Oak will continue to be there for them, for the life of their loan. With 24/7 customer support post-closing, cash-flow driven lending, and an industry-experienced lending team behind them, Neal and Amy have more time to focus on their practice and their family – and that’s something to smile about.

To learn more about their dental practice or to reach out to Neal and Amy Smith, visit the website

HenHouse Brewing to expand, move into Santa Rosa

Petaluma’s HenHouse Brewing Co. announced on Monday that is moving to south Santa Rosa and opening a facility that can handle up to 75,000 barrels annually, signaling continuing growth in Sonoma County’s craft beer industry.

The brewery, which has attracted a strong local following along the North Coast with its saison farmhouse ale, had been brewing about 2,000 barrels out of the facility at Petaluma Hills Brewing Co. for the past two years.

HenHouse will leave Petaluma and take over a portion of a food plant facility off Bellevue Avenue that had been originally intended for Amy’s Kitchen, with a goal to open a tasting room and initially produce 5,000 barrels next spring. The expansion should create 20 jobs within the next 18 months, the company said.

“This is so far beyond our wildest dreams,” said co-owner Colin McDonnell, who handles sales and logistics for HenHouse.

The company was started four years ago by Petaluma friends McDonnell, Shane Goepel and Scott Goynes to make beer with a special focus on quality, to the point that it still self-distributes its beer to ensure freshness when delivered — sometimes on the same day it is put into kegs.

The move will be funded by a more than $1 million Small Business Administration loan with Live Oak Bank in Wilmington, N.C., allowing the partners to retain equity in the business rather than solicit new investors, the company said.

HenHouse said it intends to keep much of its project spending local, ordering a new 30-barrel brewhouse from the Criveller Group in Healdsburg instead of sourcing cheaper tanks from China. It also uses ingredients from local vendors, such as biodynamic grain from a Healdsburg producer that goes into its saison, even though it costs three times that of traditional grain, Goynes said.

Some local brewers have expanded nationally, such as Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma and Bear Republic in Healdsburg, riding a growth wave that has brought craft beer volume to 11 percent of the beer marketplace.

HenHouse, which sells its beers in six Northern California counties, has no national expansion plans, preferring to focus on local distribution and developing along the West Coast, Goynes said.

“We want to be a quality beer producer that is regional,” he said. “We have no national aspirations.”

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 521-5223 or On Twitter @BillSwindell.


Lending With Wineries in Mind

Wines & Vines, September 2015:

From start-up to acquisition, merger and succession planning, a winery’s bank should be an informed partner. Bankers with knowledge of issues specific to a winery’s needs—in addition to experience with wider financial issues, markets and patterns—are the ideal choice.

Jeff Clark, Domain Expert for the Wine and Craft Beverage segment at Live Oak Bank commented, “Live Oak’s loan structure, cash flow credit orientation, speed and service differentiate us from other lenders in the industry.” Jeff has been in the industry for more than 20 years and has seen the growth in the demand for lending.


Randall Behrens, Senior Loan Officer at Live Oak Bank, works with a lot of craft beverage producers and answers several common questions about business loans.

“There is money available for wineries and vineyards. And with interest rates still near all-time lows, access to capital is relatively inexpensive. Moving forward with an expansion would be ideal in a market like this,” he says.

“You don’t necessarily need a down payment or collateral to expand, start construction or renovate. If you have cash flow, good credit and a strong business plan—good components of valuation—you can get a loan for your business,” he explains. “Live Oak fills the gap in financing availability for those producers that have established cash flow but lack appropriate collateral to secure loans with conventional lenders.”

Live Oak advises small wineries to consider a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. The SBA acts like an insurance company, allowing the bank to extend its conventional credit reach. SBA loans tend to be borrower-friendly, flexible to equity and collateral require- ments, have longer terms and no balloons or covenants.

Live Oak Bank has made small business loans a focus of its work since 2008. Today it is one of the top originators of small business loans, with one of the strongest loan portfolios in the country.

Acquisitions and mergers

Tracy Sheppard, another Senior Loan Officer at Live Oak Bank, sees a lot of mergers and acquisitions in the current climate.

“There are things that make a great deal: a ‘meeting of the minds’ between buyer and seller, complementary strengths among the staffs, compatible cultures and a growing revenue stream, just to name a few,” he reports.

Sheppard says the top strengths in any acquisition deal are:

  • Positive sales and earnings trends in the business
  • A business plan from the buyer
  • Continuity (commitments from company managers, key personnel, suppliers and customers)
  • Sellers training buyers (good management transition)
  • Seller financing—the seller is financing 10%-15% or more of the deal, showing confidence in the business under the buyer’s leadership.

Conversely, Sheppard and the Live Oak team have produced a list they call “Five Things That Kill a Deal,” which shows where the weaknesses might be in a business transfer that would cause the bank, buyer or seller to walk away.

“The deals we handle most often in the wine industry have common success and failure points,” he says. “And our experiences made us think lists like the “Five Things” would be useful to share with customers, along with more detailed and personal business advice.”

Communication between a bank and the industry it serves can strengthen successes for both, and Live Oak Bank staff can be found at many wine industry events these days, whether it’s as expert speakers on educational panels and advisory boards, or being on hand for any questions a winery owner or business manager may have.

Live Oak also offers industry finance news, expert interviews, blog posts about wine and craft beverage lending, tips and more at category/wine-and-craft-beverage-news/.

Visit or call Live Oak Bank today at (877) 890-5867.

SBA Offers Discount with Veteran Advantage Program

The SBA offers up to 50% off loan guarantee fees with their Veteran Advantage Program through September 30, 2016. As a top SBA lender, Live Oak Bank is proud to extend this offer to veterans seeking financing in the Self-Storage industry. Those who qualify for the program include veterans, service-disabled veterans, active duty military service members participating in the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), reservists and National Guard members, as well as current or widowed spouses of those above.

This upfront fee may be included in the total note amount and financed over the life of the loan. There is no other type of origination fee with this loan.

The documentation required to receive financing can be found here.

The SBA offers loan terms that are flexible and have no covenants or balloons, which allows the borrower to save money and to invest in his or her business.