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 www.cwpediatricdentistry.com.