Remodel + Redesign = Positivity

By Elaine Dunn
Photos by Steve Tague

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While attending college at Indiana University, Brad Handick began thinking about which direction his career would take. He knew that he wanted to be in healthcare, as a physician or a dentist, and was considering whether to enroll in dental or medical school. He did some research and talked to doctors of both professions. After talking with them, his impression was that the dentists he talked with were really happy with their chosen profession and seemed to truly enjoy what they were doing. He was intrigued with the entrepreneurial aspects of small business ownership as well so he chose dental school.

After graduating from Indiana University School of Dentistry in 1995, Dr. Handick practiced for three years in Indianapolis as an associate in a busy general dentistry practice. He was planning to buy into this practice until he and his wife made a trip out to Portland, Oregon, to visit his sister. It was their first visit to the Northwest, and they were immediately impressed with the beauty of the region.

After a few visits to the Portland area, Dr. Handick started seriously considering a total change in plans. Looking back, it seems to him like so much could have gone wrong with this rather impulsive decision. But he and his wife could not be more pleased with how it all worked out. In 1998, he found a practice to purchase in Garden Home from a dentist who had been practicing at that location for 25 years. He practiced in the existing structure for 15 years before finally having the opportunity to purchase the land and building. Then he thought maybe a small remodel was in order.

Dr. Handick gives a lot of credit to his Account Manager, Nancy Knot, who persuaded him to think on a larger scale. He purchased the property in 2013, about a year before he met with the Burkhart team to discuss plans for a remodel. His original intention was to repaint the building , do some landscape work and replace the carpet. Nancy encouraged him to consider that the timing might be right to make a bigger investment in the practice. She introduced Dr. Handick to the Burkhart Equipment Specialist and together they shared a vision of what they felt the office could be. They shared some drawings and floor plans as well as sketches of what the outside could look like. It wasn’t until this collaboration that Dr. Handick realized this building could become so much more than what he’d imagined.

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Another key member of the team was Pat Flora of Flora Designs. She developed the sketches for the façade and for the interior design. Before the remodel, people in the community were always telling Dr. Handick that they had driven by for years and never known there was a dental practice there. Pat also helped with the new signage which really made an impact and increased the visibility of the practice.

Dr. Handick was more personally involved with how he wanted the layout to be on
the inside. He knew he didn’t like how the existing operatories had only one doorway into each operatory, which made access cumbersome. Burkhart incorporated two entry points into each operatory. They also suggested he move the sterilization room from the back of the building to the center for a better work flow.

As part of the research process they asked him questions such as; “Have you ever thought about a continental delivery system?” or “Have you ever thought about changing the position of your computer monitors?” Although he was somewhat uncertain about changing his delivery system at first, the Burkhart team arranged for Dr. Handick to visit the A-dec facility to see the continental delivery set up for himself before making any decisions. As a result, Dr. Handick decided to change to the continental delivery system. He said it took a couple of weeks to adapt, but he knew right away this was a better setup as he noticed important benefits such as less back fatigue. Not only did the new system make the workday go more smoothly, it kept him from constantly twisting and reaching for the hand piece and instruments.

The existing chairs were fairly new so they stayed, but Dr. Handick purchased all new delivery systems, lighting, cabinetry, new overhead lights, an A-dec sterilization center and an ultrasonic sterilizer. Dr. Handick credits his Account Manager, Nancy, and the A dec people for helping him prioritize purchases so that he would remain within budget. The practice is now wired, plumbed and prepared to easily add new equipment or technology in the future.

For the construction work, they partnered with BnK Construction. Dr. Handick praised the owner, Rick Shandy, and the onsite manager, John McDowell, who did a great job of keeping everyone on schedule. They stayed within both budget and timeline. In Dr. Handick’s words, “They were fabulous.”

The practice did not shut down one single day during the duration of the project (about six months). The construction crews came in and basically cut the office in half. They would gut one side, redo the electrical, plumbing and drywall and install new cabinets and dental equipment. All the while, Dr. Handick and his team were working on the other side of a plastic wall. It required a lot of shuffling around of computers, front office equipment and phone lines. Dr. Handick and his team were always able to come in and complete a full workday. He says of his team during the remodel; “They were fantastic, flexible and came at the project with a great attitude!”

When describing the equipment installation process, Dr. Handick told how Dave Cronan from Burkhart really spearheaded the project. He said Dave was creative, came up with solutions, and always found a way to make it work. He kept things on track and understood that by 8 a.m. all equipment needed to be up and running.

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Originally, Dr. Handick didn’t have a vision for what the practice could be. Now he has more pride in the facility. He admits prior to the remodel, he was a little self-conscious that the space wasn’t quite what he wanted it to be, but he didn’t know what to do about it. One day, he was with a patient and she said, “Your old building didn’t really look like you. Your new space looks like you and the type of practice you have.” Dr. Handick likes the fact his existing patients appreciate the changes.

When considering what advice he would give to a doctor who may be considering a new office remodel, Dr. Handick thinks he was perhaps too conservative and reluctant to invest a fair amount of money into the space. He would encourage them to talk with their accountants, review their cash flow and develop a realistic budget. If the numbers add up then investing in your practice can have immediate and tangible benefits in terms of new patients and overall nicer work environment. He also recommends that while planning the project, also consider potential enhancements or equipment that could be prepared for but saved for a later purchase, thereby keeping the project within budget.

In addition to receiving positive feedback from his existing patients, the new façade and signage have helped to attract new patients to the practice. This has given Dr. Handick and his team the opportunity to connect with new patients within the community who may be looking for a new dentist. The aim at Garden Home Dental is to get to know each patient well and earn their trust. Our goal is to provide the best dental treatment we can in caring and calm environment. “We are so fortunate to have many wonderful patients who we look forward to taking care of for years to come.”

Click here to see the original article.

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