By Danny Chan
Dr George Koudos graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2001, the same year he began a lasting and career defining relationship with Raglan Dental. Starting as a part time employee, then progressing onto full-time work, he finally assumed the mantle as a full practice owner in 2014.
Since its establishment in 1958, Raglan Dental had been a trusted family practice serving the patient community in Ballarat. Determined to carry on the legacy no matter who is in charge, Dr Koudos is proud to report that the clinic’s longstanding commitment remains firmly intact – a worthwhile assertion, considering Raglan Dental’s recent partnership with Ekera Dental, a company that specialises in practice acquisition.
Reasons for the partnership, Dr Koudos reveals, boil down to management fatigue and lifestyle choices. What began as piecemeal work had over the years evolved into full on commitment for the dental entrepreneur. Between clinical and practice management duties, Dr Koudos at one point, found his time increasingly consumed by his dual roles as Practice Principal and Owner.
The challenging roles and responsibilities were also distracting from both his professional and personal commitments. Ideally, he wanted to devote more hours to the clinical aspects of his practice as well as continuing education. Away from the Ballarat clinic, Dr Koudos had around the same time, become more involved as a volunteer dentist with a Christian outreach organisation.
The Practice Principal began to wonder whether partnering a corporate outfit would be a plausible next step for Raglan Dental. The brief contact he established with one about five years ago had seeded an idea, the prospects of which slowly unravelled around the middle of last year. After investigating various corporate models available in the marketplace, the prudent dentist narrowed the field down to Ekera Dental.
Ekera Dental Pty Ltd identifies existing high performing dental practices with growth capacity for the purposes of an acquisition. On and off discussions with the Ekera team spanned over approximately six months until Raglan Dental finally joined the corporate family in February.
“Compared to other corporates, I found that Ekera Dental offered several points of difference that made the company an excellent fit for Raglan Dental,” Dr Koudos reasons.
“First of all, and most important to me, the Ekera team has been very purposeful in the way they maintain the existing ethos, name and values of the practice. This stems from having a strong and highly consultative partnership model that involves the staff and myself in the ongoing decision making process.”
“Ekera also plays a much needed support role that allows me to focus on my clinical duties with minimal distractions.”
True to Ekera Dental’s stated credo of “allowing Practice Principals to reduce their administrative workload and focus on clinical activities”, Dr Koudos says one of the biggest rewards from the partnership is “reduced stress” from not having to deal with practice management issues.
Besides practice management, clinical and other operational support services – including financial management, human resource advisory and recruitment services, marketing and public awareness initiatives – the company also provides detailed orthodontic training and mentoring programmes to each Practice within the Group.
“With regards to professional development, I feel supported from both a professional and personal standpoint.”
Ekera Dental has also been supporting Dr Koudos’ personal aspirations – especially when it comes to his volunteering work, which has become synonymous with Raglan Dental.
Attached to the Australian Christian Dental Aid (ACDA) – a not-for-profit, non-government organisation that helps to deliver dental aid to underprivileged populations – Dr Koudos frequently brings his unstinting altruism to the Republic of Vanuatu, a Pacific island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean.
Raglan Dental sponsors flight and accommodation for the practice’s very own volunteer team, comprising Dr Koudos, fellow Raglan dentist, Dr Abanob Saeed, and two dental assistants. Over the last 18 months, Raglan Dental has funded seven such dental aid trips to Vanuatu.
“Outreach services are the main aspect of work provided thus far through ACDA. We have mainly provided oral surgery services in more remote villages where access is difficult,” Dr Koudos informs.
“Dental education and restorative services have also been provided but to a lesser degree. Volunteering provides massive value to people and villages that would otherwise never be serviced.”
Clearly passionate about the cause, Dr Koudos tells me the current dental situation in Vanuatu is growing desperate, calling it “a modern day epidemic”:
“The situation is getting more appalling as a more processed, high sugar diet – common amongst the local populations – compounds the problem of limited education and services.”
He gives a few explicit examples: “Sixteen year-old girls are having all 24 of their adult teeth extracted while adult molars are pulled from the mouths of 6 year-old kids due to decay – even before their roots have fully formed! Five year-old children suffer multiple infections; some have multiple infections from a single tooth.”
Making a sincere plea for increased dental education and funding, Dr Koudos also appeals for volunteers:
“We encourage any dental volunteer to join the mission, to come out and see the beautiful people of Vanuatu for themselves. We feel that every dental volunteer has been blessed with invaluable skills that can literally change entire communities. Once you get a chance to see these communities, it is very hard to “unsee” them ever again.”
Grateful that Raglan Dental can continue to support the much-needed work in Vanuatu, Dr Koudos believes that Ekera Dental deserves some of the credit as well:
“Ekera has been 100% supportive of Raglan Dental in its continuing dental aid work for ACDA. Ekera has funded the flight and accommodation of 2 dental assistants in the latest Vanuatu dental aid trip in April. The next trip is planned for June.”
Most dentists cite “lifestyle changes” as benefits for partnering with a corporate outfit. To Dr Koudos, the intangible rewards also translate to having more time and opportunity to better the lives of others. The biggest beneficiaries though, he insists, are the volunteers themselves:
“Witnessing people living in difficult conditions makes you appreciative of what you already have, and it does affect the way you live.”
“Interestingly, we often think about changing the lives of others in doing volunteer work, when in fact, we are the ones most positively impacted by the experience.”