A fast-growing, Colorado Springs-based dental practice group expects that growth to accelerate even more thanks to a major investment by a Los Angeles-based private equity investment firm.
Varsity Healthcare Partners declined to say how much it invested in Peak Dental Services, but Varsity says on its website that it makes investments of $10 million to $60 million in medical and other health care providers, payers and service providers. Started in 2008 by now-CEO A.J. Peak with plans to consolidate dental practices, Peak Dental owns or operates 35 dental practices with 65 dentists and 400 employees in Colorado.
"Historically, we have acquired and started new practices and we plan to accelerate that with 12 to 15 practices a year," Peak said. "The dental industry is consolidating much like other parts of the health care market. Our goal is to keep or accelerate the pace of our expansion. We could expand to 50 to 60 practices in Colorado, but we need to go out of state and are making lots of efforts to do so."
Peak Dental is targeting expansion in major metro areas in Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Portland, Ore, Salt Lake City and Seattle, A.J. Peak said. Varsity's investment is expected to finance acquisitions and new practices for five years or more, he said. Peak Dental began seeking outside investment about a year ago.
"You can only grow so far on your own. We are excited about what Varsity could provide," A.J. Peak said. "Since our founding, our No. 1 core value has been to put the patient and dentist experiences first. Our goal is to be the customer experience in operating dental practices while improving the lives of our providers. VHP embraces our vision and we are delighted to partner with them to help these efforts and accelerate Peak's growth."
Peak Dental encourages dentists in practices it acquires to take an ownership stake in the company and one-third of its dentists have done so, A.J. Peak said. Both management and dentists have remained "significant shareholders" in the company after the investment. Peak Dental provides administrative support, training, purchasing, payroll, compliance and recruiting services to practices it owns.
A.J. Peak said the company added five practices last year despite all of its practices remaining closed for nearly two months during a statewide stay-at-home order imposed to slow the growth of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peak Dental's growth has landed it on Inc. magazine's list of 5,000 fastest-growing private companies for four consecutive years, ranking 1,963rd in last year's list by more than tripling revenue in the previous three years. Two of the company's practices have been selected by the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado for its Excellence in Customer Service Award five times since 2012. A.J. Peak was named Small Business Person of the Year in 2019 by the BBB and the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center.