When Frank Kizy and his wife, Dr. Amber Kizy, sat down to pick a location for her first dental practice, they made a profound discovery from a simple Google search.
“We had originally considered West Bloomfield, where we have family,” says Frank, who previously owned a Papa Romano's Pizza franchise in Oak Park. “But when we looked on Google Maps for dentists, all of these pinpoints popped up. There were so many dentists per capita in that area, and there were very few in Flint.”
Amber, who had been a dentist in Iraq for four years prior to being re-certified in the United States, was drawn to working in an underserved area, says Frank. So, after she graduated from New York University College of Dentistry in 2013 and spent a year working at a large practice in Saginaw, the Kizys opened Deluxe Dental at the northeast corner of Dort Highway and Atherton Road in Flint.
And so began a business that, just over a year after opening, is already proving successful with repeat patients and thousands of children educated about dental hygiene.
One of Deluxe Dental’s goals is to improve access to dental care in Flint. How do you operate differently with that in mind?
Not many dental offices accept Medicaid. And of those that do, many are unwelcoming, with a tiny waiting area where you speak through a window. We not only accept Medicaid, but we have worked hard to create a beautiful and welcoming environment. We have a large lobby and a nice children’s area with an Xbox and flat-screen TV. We also purchase the latest medical technology – that’s a big deal in a small office.
What challenges have you run into?
How else do you serve the community?
We work with the GISD, Flint Community Schools' Tot Lot Program and YouthQuest to teach children about brushing their teeth properly. We give them an instructional book to take home and read with their parents, plus a note so parents can redeem toothbrushes for everyone in the family every three months. If you teach kids at a young age about good dental hygiene, it will be with them for life. We reached 1,000 kids last year, and we hope to reach 2,000 this year.
What is your favorite memory as a business owner?
There was a woman who wanted to bring in her child with an abscessed tooth. On the way to the appointment, her car battery died. We sent our van to get them, brought her to her appointment, and went back afterward to give her car a jump. The woman was so touched that she was in tears.
Who inspires you?
My wife and children. When I was young, as a child of immigrants, my parents were so busy managing stores. I remember them as always working. Amber and I spend tons of time with our children – we pick them up from school and hang out with them in the evenings. And people think it must be hard to work with your spouse. If you love your wife, it’s no problem. (Laughs)
Has the water crisis impacted your business?
We have always had a filtration system. Even still, people are scared. They always ask, “Do you have Flint water?” It has had a big impact and will continue to have an impact. That said, the water system eventually will be brought up to date, and the work will build employment.
What do you want people to know about doing business in Flint and Genesee County?
Flint is an excellent place to open a small business, and the City is ready to help. The staff are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. We love doing business here. It’s also a good time to open a business in Flint. People want to be here – it’s a mixed, diverse community. There is a lot of growth, and it will be better after the water repairs. There are still factory jobs, and the auto industry is doing well again.
For more information about Deluxe Dental, visit www.deluxedentalflint.com.