Most people driving past the empty commercial property for sale on Lineville Road in Suamico in the fall of 2020 probably saw an old bank building. But Dr. Marc VanderLeest saw opportunity, and a new home for his growing dental practice.
Moving had been on the mind of Dr. VanderLeest and his wife and office manager, Sara, for some time. With a busy patient calendar and an associate set to come aboard in mid- 2022, they knew the practice had outgrown its 40-year-old, 1,100-square-foot office space “by leaps and bounds.”
“The (bank) building fit our needs and it fit our expectations,” Dr. VanderLeest recalled. “At about 5,500 (which was later expanded to 6,300) square feet, the size was sufficient, without question. We knew we’d have to gut the inside. The location was good, on the main drag, about two miles from our old office in a busy, growing community. And the way the building looked from the exterior just fit what we were looking for in a dental office.”
The VanderLeests purchased the building in December 2020. They contracted with Keller, Inc., of Kaukauna for construction and secured an architect. Dr. VanderLeest also brought in Richard Wilde and the team at WDA Equipment Solutions to help with the design aspects of the dental spaces. While the architect designed creative solutions for transforming the bank’s drive-through into business offices and the former bank foyer area into a more dental office-friendly reception space, the WDA Equipment Solutions team provided invaluable design input on the dental treatment rooms, the lab, and the design and flow of the sterilization area and cabinetry.
“Richard was very knowledgeable,” Dr. VanderLeest said. “This wasn’t just a cookbook recipe. We have 12 operatories and because we were reconfiguring an existing building, most have a little nuance to them, a little knockout in the wall or a little niche somewhere. We had to retrofit the office to the way the bank was. The way we had to lay out the space with sterilization and the lab and everything that was there, we couldn’t make all the rooms uniform.”
As the VanderLeests and their architect figured out how to fit 12 treatment rooms into the building, Wilde and WDA Equipment Solutions were working on fitting the necessary dental equipment into the treatment rooms. It was a complicated puzzle. From combining used equipment that Dr. VanderLeest had purchased from a retiring dentist, to incorporating the existing technology – including CBCT and CEREC – in his current practice, and then designing new equipment solutions to fit the various spaces, it became a marriage of old and new to meet the project vision and budget.
“Richard took something borrowed, something new, something blue, and made it all work,” Dr. VanderLeest said.
WDA Equipment Solutions approached the puzzle with its trademark creativity. Wilde spent more than one afternoon squeezing into the tightly packed garage where Dr. VanderLeest had stored the used equipment, tracing templates on cardboard to see how each piece could fit in the new layout. He also helped connect the VanderLeests with John Gustafson, the rep for one of his manufacturing partners, Royal Dental Group’s Biotec line of cabinets, who invited them to the Biotec factory in Zeeland, Michigan.
“That was very beneficial because I had spent hours and hours with the Biotec catalog and thought I knew every piece that I wanted,” Dr. VanderLeest said. “When we toured the factory, we saw some other cabinets being built that were just a little different style. We liked those a lot and ultimately chose to go with them. I guess you just don’t know what you don’t know until you look.”
The VanderLeests have a knack for do-it-yourself projects and invested some sweat equity in the new office. They and a friend did a lot of the interior demolition work. Sara VanderLeest pulled all the low-voltage wires that had been used for computer terminals throughout the building, and she worked with Wilde to stake out and tag plumbing and electrical lines.
“The two of them laid out all the rooms with chalk lines and everything,” Dr. VanderLeest said. “Both my wife and I enjoy that, being hands-on, doing a lot of the construction. It gave us a lot of satisfaction to be involved in the project from the ground up.”
The new office opened in July 2021. Dr. VanderLeest isn’t surprised that patients and staff (five dental hygienists, two assistants, two front-office staff, Sara the office manager and a new associate set to start soon) are big fans, but he was surprised at the positive impact the new office has had on his staff outside of work, too.
“The old office was so small and we were so busy, it was such a hustle bustle there, you had about three conversations going on at once and you could tune into all of them,” he said. “For years, it was home to us, but we were all on sensory overload. The new operatories offer privacy, space and quiet. We upgraded handpieces to all new-style electric, which has been wonderful. You can focus on the patient. One of our staff members told me that when they go home at night, they don’t feel like they have to sit for an hour, hour and a half to just decompress.”
Dr. VanderLeest has advice for anyone thinking about an office rebuilding project, be it a remodel or starting from scratch.
“If it seems like for some reason you’re not happy in your current location, do your research. If it seems feasible from a financial aspect, I would jump in wholeheartedly. It’s a great time to be in dentistry. We’re grateful for our staff, for our patients and for Keller, our architect and WDA Equipment Solutions, who were great partners in this process.”
To learn more about how WDA Equipment Solutions can help you take the next step, call 888-213-7300 for a free consultation.