Long and Winding Road

Building a shared practice was more arduous than expected for two Minnesota dentists who’d never done it before. The process was instructive, though—and the result worth the effort.

Long and Winding Road

Long and Winding Road IN 2017, DRS. KRISTA BAUER and Kelly StarK, former dental-school students at the University of Minnesota, decided to join forces and create a shared practice to pursue a shared career. The process involved a great deal of time, effort and no small number of unexpected headaches, but now Champlin Family Dental, an elegant modernist pile—“stunning and classy, but still inviting and warm,” Dr. Stark says—just north of Minneapolis, is thriving.

Initial input came from the doctors’ Benco Dental Territory Repre­sentative, Eric Meiners, who offered some cold realism about the project’s scope. “Eric told us it would take two years,” Dr. Stark says of the from-the-ground-up construction. “We didn’t believe him, but he was right.”

Municipal red tape was one reason. “Commercial real estate [was] foreign to us,” Dr. Bauer says. “We didn’t know we had to go to Champlin, talk to the mayor and have a city council meeting.” Their schedule added complexity as well. “We broke ground right before winter, which meant we had winterization costs,” Dr. Stark says. “We had to heat the ground, and our contractors worked overtime to reach our deadline.”

Long and Winding Road Throughout, Benco Dental was there to assist, flying the doctors and their staff to its Pennsylvania showroom so they could closely examine furniture and equipment in person. Having the entire team present, Dr. Bauer says, was crucial: “Our assistants and hygienists brought things to life that we never would have thought of, so it was very helpful.”

Meanwhile, a Benco Build Your Future Workshop, conducted by dentist/designer Dr. Tristan Hamilton, helped the duo’s ideas coalesce. “Our major vision was to have universal rooms set up with high-speed handpieces, Cavitrons, X-ray units, everything,” Dr. Bauer says. “The women speaking at the workshop told us that our rooms needed to be universal, and they solidified what we wanted but couldn’t execute.” (Starting a Pinterest board of their ideas from the workshop gave them a central repository for design inspiration as well.)

Long and Winding Road One of her favorite moments, Dr. Stark recalls, was seeing the Champlin Dental team’s reaction to the finished office. “Our team was not allowed in the building after it was framed, so they had no idea what it looked like,” she says. “Once it was finished, we let them in one by one and took pictures of them seeing it for the first time.”

To celebrate the long, transformative process of erecting a joint practice with great functionality and sublime aesthetics, the doctors held an open house this past September—tying a bow, Dr. Stark says, around their two-year journey. Afterward the pair gathered their team privately to express their gratitude. “We thanked them because we couldn’t have done it without them and how they supported us,” Dr. Stark says. “It was a nice way to end the evening.”