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Opening New Markets, Building Teams, and Developing Cultures
Patrick Perodin, COO of Marquee Dental Partners, describes his experiences in different DSO and dental consulting roles and how he developed his “ops chops.”
DSOPro: Tell us about your background and what brought you into dentistry.
Ironically, I went to college initially thinking I was going to be an orthodontist. I was a biology major and took the DAT. After completing my undergrad degree, I began looking for a dental practice to work in before applying to dental schools, but I ended up getting a job at a hospital and quickly realized I wanted to be on the business side of things. So, I went back to school, got my MBA, and started working in hospital administration to learn the business of healthcare.
I did that for a while in Washington, DC, and then my fiancé, who is now my wife, and I decided to open our own business. We opened and ran a deli for a couple years, which was crazy. After 2 years, I realized I didn’t want to be cutting meat and working 18 hours in a deli for the rest of my life, so we sold it. Meanwhile, I had posted my resume online with Career Builder and Monster.com. I got a call from Levin Group, the dental consulting company, asking if I wanted to be a dental consultant. I had no idea what that was, but I said “Sure!” and that was my entry into dentistry.
I toggled back and forth between dental consulting and hospital administration for a while. I did dental practice management consulting at Levin Group for a few years. Then I left for a hospital administration job at Georgetown University Hospital. I was looking to move up in the administration ranks and asked my old VP at Levin Group if he would be a reference for me as I was applying for different director roles. He was in the process of restructuring the company and asked if I would come back as director of consulting. I agreed, went back into dentistry, and then never really left again.
After a few years there, I got the opportunity to be in the same role working with Quantum Leap Success in Dentistry and another great leader, Dr. Mike Kesner. He taught me a lot about the business side of dentistry as I helped him run his consulting company, which we grew pretty substantially over a 3-year period.
That’s when Pacific Dental Services (PDS) got in touch with me. CEO and Founder Steve Thorne and Chief Enterprise Strategy Officer Dan Burke wanted to open the Virginia market and needed a leader out there. I started with PDS in 2016 and opened the Virginia and Maryland markets for them. I also took over the Massachusetts market in its early stages. I had an awesome 6 years working for Steve and Jon Thorne, who is the COO. They were unbelievable leaders and taught me everything about dental operations. As you can imagine, that is quite different from dental consulting.
I was planning to leave PDS for a different position, but right as I was exiting, this opportunity with Marquee Dental Partners came up. After talking to CEO Fred Ward, who is a great leader and such a great guy to work for, I made a last-second change and took this role as COO in February 2022. I could not be happier with that decision.
I still live in Virginia, but oversee the Nashville market, which is where our headquarters are. I’m there every week, doing the back-and-forth thing, and traveling to our other markets as well, including Florida, Kentucky, Alabama, and Arkansas.
DSOPro: Describe what your role was like compared to consulting.
With consulting, you assess what’s wrong, give them a plan, and then walk away and expect everybody to execute that plan. In operations, you are the plan. You’re the executor of the day-to-day operations and you’re responsible for the results. When you’re responsible for everything, you have to create a plan and help execute it.
I think my development and training at PDS helped me understand this role. I spent 8 months in training with their Tennessee Regional Partner, Jack Knudsen, who is a fantastic operator, before I opened my market and started running practices. I was essentially a benefits coordinator, receptionist, operations manager, and did some back-office work. PDS really did a good job of making sure they were developing operators, not just putting people in positions they wouldn’t be successful in.
I had started as a Regional Partner, which is a vice president level position, but they train people coming from the outside by having them learn every position in the office. That’s where the development and “ops chops” came in.SPONSORED
DSOPro: What did you focus on at PDS?
I started to build the region. I began to hire staff, do the real estate selection for Virginia, working with a broker and our real estate team. I started developing the culture in the region. So as my operations day-to-day training was winding down, the big picture became how do you build a culture and a region? How do you build a business within the business? Then it quickly shifted to figuring out how to build the region out and then grow it. PDS is a de novo setup—they don’t do many acquisitions. It’s brick and mortar. You find the real estate, put a team and a doc in place, and go from there. That is very different from what I’m doing at Marquee. We are essentially almost all acquisition based.
DSOPro: Describe the difference between the two groups and how that affected your approach at Marquee Dental.
PDS had a 30-plus-year runway of dental operations, so there is a system you follow that has been proven, repeatable, and scalable. And at almost 1,000 offices, it’s one of the top 3 DSOs in size. Marquee is a lot smaller and doesn’t have 30 years of established systems, so it’s fun to do something really different. It is exciting to be part of building a company and having the opportunity to help write the playbook at Marquee. We have so many great people and leaders at Marquee, so the work is fun and gratifying. And we are building something special.
Marquee supports a mix of specialty and general practice offices. It’s mostly GP, but we have acquired some specialty practices. We also have some rotating specialty clinicians, where we take specialties to patients in GP offices. It allows us to offer comprehensive care to our patients.
DSOPro: What are some of the other ways Marquee Dental operates differently?
There is a lot of variety between the offices—they may have different practice management software or a different layout or footprint. I think there are advantages to being a smaller player. There are disadvantages as well because we’re just not as well-known as bigger brands. One advantage is that some doctors don’t want to be part of the big machine. They like being part of a quaint, smaller DSO where they often actually get to see the CEO, COO, our CFO Kristy Rutherford, who is truly incredible, and other leaders. We are always available. We recently did an internal survey and many docs commented that it’s great that they can always pick up the phone and talk to Fred and other leaders.
Our recruitment is different as a result. We really preach total clinical autonomy. When we do an acquisition, that practice will continue to operate in the same manner, for the most part, with some additional support from us. We really pride ourselves on not trying to change anything that has helped a practice become successful. We just want to add to it, to support them and help them grow to a higher level, which is nice for those doctors. I think the fear of joining a DSO is that they’ll be told how to practice, which is absolutely untrue here.
We have new dentists just out of dental school, and this is their first job, dentists in the middle of their career who want us to help them grow so they can plan for their exit, and others nearing the end of their careers who want to retire and let Marquee help them with the transition. Vince Sumpter, our Senior Director of Recruiting, helps us find the best talent available. We have a good mix, and I think that balance is important. Both companies are great, just following different approaches.SPONSORED
DSOPro: Are you overseeing procurement as well?
Yes. We have a great VP of Operations, Andrew Sipes, who works with me on that. My scope is wider as a COO, but I am part of decisions like what endo or implant system we use, and which dental labs we work with. I’ve been able to expand my responsibilities with Marquee, which is a nice change for me.
DSOPro: What other areas fall under operations at Marquee Dental?
We have an awesome marketing department that helps our practices with their marketing. We are developing training for both clinical and nonclinical providers. We have two wonderful Chief Clinical Officers, Dr. Alan Myers and Dr. Travis Philips, who are just unbelievable partners for our doctors to work with. They provide resources and help on the clinical side, enabling doctors to provide the absolute best dental care to our patients.
We also have two hygiene leaders. They are responsible for helping our hygienists, in partnership with Dr. Myers and Dr. Philips, who work with them to support all of our hygienists in their clinical development.
DSOPro: During your time in the DSO space, how much change have you seen in terms of focus and tactics?
I think there’s a really big difference since 2016, when I started. First is how DSOs are viewed. As recently as 2016, “DSO” was a bit of a dirty word in dental schools and even the public. Now it’s become such a norm that dental schools are embracing the concept. The American Dental Association is also a little more accepting of DSOs. That’s a big change in a short period of time. The acceptance of DSOs is now more the standard than the exception.
DSOs can provide technology that you don’t always see in unsupported private practices. Having CBCTs, iTero scanners, and offering CAD/CAM dentistry and the other resources a DSO can put into practices enables providers to make better decisions and have the best ways to take care of their patients.
Even if our doctors have not used certain technologies before, they have been really open to embracing them. We have an iTero scanner in every office, we’re adding CBCTs every day, it seems. We’ve introduced lasers in offices if they weren’t using one for hygiene. Some offices are using CAD/CAM. Our doctors understand the “why” behind it, ensuring that our patients get the absolute best dental care possible.SPONSORED
DSOPro: What do you see in the future for your group as well as the industry?
Continued growth. The dental space is just on fire. It just continues growing and growing. New dental schools are opening, more dentists are graduating. As the population increases, we will need more providers and more offices. Marquee has this unbelievable runway in front of us that will make it possible for us to continue to grow, offer more patients access to care, and offer dental professionals a place to grow in their careers. I think the sky’s the limit and couldn’t be more excited right now about the dental profession and the dental space.
I feel like I’m one of the luckiest people in the world that I get to go to work and do something I truly enjoy and where I can grow professionally. I’ve been blessed over the last 20 years or so to work with great people and great doctors.
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About Patrick Perodin
Patrick Perodin, COO of Marquee Dental Partners, has over 20 years of progressive experience in the healthcare/dental industry. Prior to joining Marquee, he spent almost 6 years as Regional Partner at Pacific Dental Services overseeing the Washington, DC metro and Boston metro markets. Before his time at Pacific Dental, Patrick ran two different dental consulting companies and spent time as a Hospital Administrator. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from SUNY Albany and a master’s degree in business management from SUNY Stony Brook.
When not working, Patrick spends time with his wonderful wife Kelli and amazing daughter Olivia. An avid sports fan, Patrick enjoys watching his favorite teams—the New York Jets, New York Knicks, and New York Yankees.
Marquee Dental Partners
Marquee Dental Partners believes that happy and healthy people help others to be happy and healthy. The leadership team of dental industry veterans manages from this perspective, helping to ensure that Marquee Dental Partners teams deliver the best care to their patients and communities. Marquee Dental Partners, headquartered in Brentwood, TN, has more than 75 locations in the southeast United States. With offices in Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, and Florida, Marquee offers its patients a broad range of services—from general dentistry to specialty services.