R. Kirk Huntsman has been involved in the dental industry for about thirty years. A leader in creating and running dental service organizations (DSOs), Kirk is interested in all business aspects of dentistry, from managing practices to improving accessibility for patients to championing technological progress.
Who Is R. Kirk Huntsman?
R. Kirk Huntsman: An Entrepreneur’s Entrepreneur
Kirk knows firsthand that the journey to entrepreneurship isn’t always a straight shot from point A to point B. In Kirk’s experience, he has learned, in fact, that the maxim among entrepreneurs is this: no one gets it right all the time.
“Sometimes, despite the best laid plans and every good intention, things just don’t go as planned,” explains R. Kirk Huntsman. “The hard truth is that companies fail. Losses happen. Not every startup evolves into Microsoft or Apple. Some, perhaps most, end up as hard lessons in life for founders, managers, and investors.”
Having experienced many of the hard lessons of entrepreneurship, R. Kirk Huntsman has come out on the other side as a better businessman, a smarter negotiator, a shrewder problem solver, and a more efficient project manager.
How R. Kirk Huntsman Turned Around the Dental Industry
Kirk’s first exposure in the dental industry came about through his affiliation with AFTCO Associates as a licensee and practice broker. He opened his Dallas AFTCO office in 1989, and by 1991 it had become the #1 AFTCO office in the entire country, and Kirk was the #1 practice broker. Through Kirk Huntsman’s work at AFTCO, he quickly realized that the dental industry business model itself was all but broken, which was what led to frustrated dentists selling off their practices. Kirk vowed to revamp the overall management and supply systems of dental practices throughout the United States, and in 1995 he founded Dental One to make it happen.
After successfully selling Dental One in 2008, Kirk continued to help the company grow and thrive through the merger process with Dental Care Partners. As President, he oversaw the integration plan and helped grow EBITDA from $12 million to $21 million in 2009, before he ultimately decided to move on to consulting. He later collaborated with Morgan Stanley as the CEO of their portfolio company ReachOut HealthCare, the largest mobile dentistry organization in the country, where once again he worked to integrate three separate operating units.
Much of R. Kirk Huntsman’s work in the dental industry is based on helping smaller, independent dental practices find opportunities to negotiate pricing for supplies and resources. Kirk is passionate about helping these smaller independent businesses flourish and grow—or even bounce back. Having experienced a few nice wins in his career, as well as some painful losses, Kirk understands that the losses in business can stay with you longer. “They definitely take their toll—emotionally, financially, mentally, and even physically,” says R. Kirk Huntsman. “So, it’s really hard for a business owner or private practioner to put his heart, mind, soul and fortune into something only to see it hit the wall and pass away. It’s hard to explain to your wife. It’s hard to explain to your employees, your vendors, and your customers.”
After leaving his executive staff role at ReachOut, R. Kirk Huntsman began another entrepreneurial undertaking: Nexus Dental Alliance.. Kirk created Nexus Dental Alliance in order to help the dental “cottage industry” and solo practitioners avail themselves to some of the tools and overall economic scale that is normally reserved for large companies. Kirk helped these dentists negotiate the prices for crowns, bridges, and other dental supplies as well as other products and services. Because he was well-known throughout the dental industry he was able to set up resource lines to labs and supply houses, which he’d grown familiar with through Dental One.
Later R. Kirk Huntsman segued back into buying practices again, and he built his next dental management company in a multi-million dollar endeavor. At its peak the company owned eight offices. He sold these offices in 2015.
R. Kirk Huntsman’s Next Business Adventure
Kirk’s interest in the dental industry has more recently focused on a particularly fascinating aspect within dentistry: sleep-disordered breathing and Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA. He plans to use his new platform to not only highlight revolutionary new technologies and treatment modalities, but also to educate people on the best tools and solutions for their dental needs. Kirk and other voices in the filed are hoping to raise awareness around the various issues, symptoms and complications regarding sleep-disordered breathing or SDB.
“Many people suffer from sleep-disordered breathing and don’t even know it,” writes R. Kirk Huntsman in a recent blog.
There are three types of sleep-disordered breathing, and one of the most common conditions is OSA, in which a person stops breathing for various periods during the night. Some of the symptoms of OSA include snoring, disturbed sleep, and daytime sleepiness. But there are other physical signs, too. Most patients are overweight and have a short, thick neck, some are of normal weight but have a small, receding jaw. Hence, R. Kirk Huntsman is excitedly rallying around the efficacy of oral appliance therapy for patients with obstructive sleep apnea.
R. Kirk Huntsman: Putting Family and People First
R. Kirk Huntsman is proud husband and father who puts his family first. Always willing to lend an ear or offer encouragement, Kirk regularly mentors students who are interested in becoming thriving business leaders. Kirk is not afraid to share the ups and downs of his career experiences. His philosophy: “Someone out there may be going through something similar. While you go through a challenging time in your chosen line of work, it can seem like everything is falling apart,” says R. Kirk Huntsman. “But life will go on and professional victories have a way of showing up if you continue working hard and staying in the game.”
“Never despair. Be patient. See what the lessons are and vow not to make the same mistakes,” says Kirk. “Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Count your blessings and focus on the future.”
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