Discover effective strategies and tips to accelerate your journey in learning dentistry.
Aaron Hoffman, co-owner of Sunflower Dental Studio, shares a remarkable 30-year journey in the dental industry with Shawn Zajas. They discuss the evolution of his career, marked by transformative experiences and an unyielding commitment to growth.
The conversation delves into Sunflower Dental Studio’s inception during a tumultuous economic climate in 2008. Facing adversity, Aaron and his partners embarked on a door-to-door campaign to keep their business afloat. This pivotal decision laid the foundation for their enduring success.
Aaron reflects on the challenges of scaling their operation. From overcoming a shoestring budget to managing expansion, every hurdle served as a catalyst for improvement. Through strategic collaborations and a relentless pursuit of excellence, Sunflower Dental Studio flourished.
The discussion pivots to the power of social media in fostering relationships with dentists. Aaron narrates his initial foray into platforms like Facebook and Instagram, highlighting the remarkable growth of a private Facebook group catering to dental professionals. With over 56,000 members, this community has become a hub for knowledge-sharing and collaboration.
Aaron underscores the invaluable investment of time in nurturing these online connections. He illustrates the genuine care and responsiveness Sunflower Dental Studio offers to their network, creating an environment where dentists feel heard and supported.
The conversation takes a poignant turn as Aaron shares his wife’s battle with breast cancer, which coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He candidly discusses the emotional and logistical challenges they faced, emphasizing the transformative perspective such trials bring. Aaron’s gratitude for overcoming these hurdles is palpable, with his wife now in full recovery.
Shawn shifts gears, posing a hypothetical scenario: if Aaron could impart a single piece of advice to his 18-year-old self, what would it be? Aaron’s response is succinct but profound – he encourages his younger self to embrace change. He reflects on how he has evolved over the years, shedding past personas to become the person he is today. Aaron champions the notion that change, though uncomfortable at times, is a powerful force for personal and professional growth.
In closing, Aaron invites dental professionals to connect with Sunflower Dental Studio on Instagram and Facebook through his handles, “Aaron lab guy Hoffman.” He also shares their email address, email@example.com, for inquiries.
Shawn expresses his admiration for Aaron’s journey, commending his pioneering spirit and openness to growth in the dental industry. Aaron reciprocates the gratitude, acknowledging the invaluable contributions of his partners and expressing his appreciation for the opportunity to share their story. The interview concludes on a note of mutual respect and inspiration.
Connect with Aaron Hoffman:
They’re the ones that don’t look at these challenges as nails in their coffin, they look at them as opportunities, you know, and, and to become better.
Shawn Zajas 00:13
The future of dentistry belongs to the innovators. Welcome to innovation in dentistry. I’m your host, Shawn Zajas. And I believe that the future of dentistry is going to be unbelievably great over the next decade in two decades. But the question isn’t that the question is, are you going to be part of what makes dentistry great? Okay, so today, I could not be more excited to get to interview Aaron Hoffman. And truth be told, I don’t know much about Aaron. I just know he comes highly recommended by the Mel Gibson of dentistry which is Dr. Chad Duplantis. So before I set you up, let me just say, Aaron thank you so much for letting me interview you
today. Yeah, absolutely. My pleasure. This is great.
Shawn Zajas 01:09
Okay, so to set the stage innovation, Aaron can take on so many different forms, you know, there’s clinical innovations. There’s technological innovations. But behind all of that there’s always some sort of mindset, or belief set in an individual that gets them to be like, why not me? Like, why can’t I pioneer positive change in the industry? And that’s what I’m fascinated by. So for anyone that’s listening to this podcast and not watching it, you’re probably not going to understand, but for anyone that’s watching it. Aaron right now, you’re in a pretty awesome dental lab. Is that correct?
Aaron Hoffman 01:47
Yeah, thanks. You know, we my dad started this in 1981. I should probably rephrase that. He had a co worker, co manager of another lab, he asked my dad, what do you think about us starting our own lab, and so they did it. And through the ups and downs, but we were, we were in a 1200 square foot facility. They started off in a smaller one, but that only lasts for a few years. And then they moved to about a 1200 square foot facility. And we had, I don’t know, eight to 10 people, I think for a good number of years. I mean, technically, four or five people up to about 10 at our at our largest. And that was we moved. Last year, we moved last year into a 4500 square foot space, this space. Wow. So for I can’t do the math off my head, but for 37 years, 38 years. We were in 1200 square feet building. And so we just got to a point where we had no room for equipment. We had no room for human beings. We had no work for door no room for the work. It was it was tight space. So yeah, I would like to really say our team, put it all out there and shows up puts on their game face. And yeah, we’re in a in a great space. Now. It was a former formerly dental office. So yeah, we appreciate it.
Shawn Zajas 03:39
That’s pretty cool. So So Aaron, so your dad gets into starting a dental lab. Now how old are you at this point in time, I would have been
Aaron Hoffman 03:47
six years old, six years old. And then by 1993, I was a senior in high school. The second semester, I decided to do an apprenticeship program through our school. And so I would go half day of school half day of work when my I think my dad or my mom, I think my mom was like, hey, you know, you could check into an apprenticeship and you just go to school half. And I just interrupt her. I’m like, Yeah, I’ll do that. Anything. Get out of school half day. Yeah, I’ll go to work and make a paycheck. So school, and it sounds bad. It sounds really bad, especially since we homeschooled five children and continue to do so but school just wasn’t good at it. I wasn’t good at school. And so when I had the opportunity to you know, hey, what do you want to do? When you get older? I’m like, oh, no, don’t work with my dad. You know, I really didn’t have a plan. And so when I had the opportunity to cut school half Today, I’m like, Yeah, I’m there. So, game started working for my dad and his partner, Richard. Good. And, and. And then yeah, in 2004, I had an opportunity to, to buy out my dad’s partner, Richard, my two. So Richard’s two sons, Eric and Troy Good. And they were also my partners, we bought out their dad. And, and then in 2008, we then three bought out my dad, so we’ve been owners since then. And Go figure 2008 was a great time. Kidding. To buy a business, let me tell you, we learned a lot. We learned a lot in 2009.
Shawn Zajas 05:48
Two sets of father’s sons, like it truly is, like a generational family business.
Aaron Hoffman 05:56
Yeah, and, you know, it wasn’t easy, because, you know, they had 10 and 12 years on me. And so, here I kind of was, you know, kind of the outsider at that point, because my now business partners are one of them’s now my business partner. You know, here, I was kind of coming in as they could see the writing on the wall, Oh, crap, we got a third partner here, you know, a potential third partner, if he hangs in there, and, and so but, you know, it’s, it’s interesting, because we started developing, and I think we embrace this more as partners. But strengths and weaknesses, you know, and that’s one of the things you have to I mean, I’m talking about strengths and weaknesses today, talking with our couple team members out, you and I discussed earlier, you know, just focusing on weaknesses, you can just pick a person apart. But what’s interesting is that can come right back at you. I mean, we can, we can spend all day long picking each other apart. So I think we did a really healthy job of picking out each other’s strengths. And, you know, which I would say one of my strengths was, I was not, I’m not a paperwork guy, I’m not a, I’m not a amount of businessman, I really am not, you know, I’m a technician, that happens to own a business. And we’re always problem solving and, and, you know, somebody, this may not go over well with some listeners, but Ted Nugent, I don’t listen to him. But I heard him say one thing one time. And he said, Well, while everybody else was going to school, I was too busy learning. Not 100% True, but kind of true, you know, if nothing else for for a guy that didn’t go to college, probably applicable to myself, and even my partners, you know, they’re, they’re kind of the same way they, they were more artists. And, and so here we are three guys running this business, not having a clue what we’re doing in 2008 2009, as far as running an actual business. So we had a financial advisor that, that my dad and his partner, you know, had already had within the business. And so he helped us navigate 2008 2009 And, and so, yeah, we’re thankful and grateful that we’re still here, you know,
Shawn Zajas 08:54
I mean, it’s been, what, 15/16 years since then. And that’s no small. That’s no small feat. So let me just even honor that. I mean, that’s such an accomplishment to keep a business going to keep growing. That’s challenging. You know, especially like you’re saying, without the business background, I mean, I know you guys got mentorship from your dad’s. But at the same time, the rules of the business and the rules of the game change all the time as the marketplace is evolving. You know, as new technologies come out as new ways to market come out, you know, as maybe certain labs that are now offshoring come into the marketplace and all of a sudden price, you know, gets driven down. You guys have had to handle all of those things. So I’m sure like there’s been this this evolution and there’s this resilience that you guys have had to develop on how do we stay ahead of the game?
Aaron Hoffman 09:48
Yeah, and you know, when you think about the big picture, like right now, my my thought and and my partners and I’ll just update this a little bit, so Since then, I have two additional new partners. So I still have Troy, my original partner, but his brother Eric has since he still works here, but he’s sold out to his two younger, his two young sons. So they’re now partners with myself and Troy, and I’m telling you, it, that’s the part that that is pretty amazing that we all get along. We all know our strengths. We definitely know our weaknesses, you know, nobody’s perfect. But when we encourage each other and each other strengths, man, we’re getting it done. That’s pretty, pretty sweet to see, you know, and all those, you know, 2008 2009? Like, is this place even going to be around? You know, I’ll never forget when we were going out and trying to really, what’s the word I’m looking for solidify some of our accounts. You know, back in 2008 2009, we were mostly just in Topeka, capital of Kansas. And mostly in Kansas, there really, we had maybe an account in Oklahoma. That was kind of it, you know. And I remember going and knocking on doors, trying to get new business. At the time, too. We had our financial guy said, Hey, guys, just to let you know, in about, I don’t know, we were in about month eight, something like that, just the way things were going. And he’s like, You guys are cumulative li going to be owing about $250,000 in taxes. So we need to get ahead of that. Well, yeah, that will send you out knocking on doors, you know, and, and that really kind of put me in a posture of really respecting people that do cold calls, because they’re just trying to make a living, you know, and that’s how that’s who I was. And I was knocking on dentists door. I’m AaronHoffman. You know, this is Troy good. And this is Eric Gooden. And, you know, we wouldn’t get to see the dentist, Dentist didn’t have time, and I get it. But one of our last stops of a of one of the days that we went out, I’ll never forget, a dentist said, Hey, OR, AND, OR you guys, you know, I want you to come back into my lab. We had been joking and talking about old times, because he was a he was an account we’d had for quite a while. He said, I need to show you guys something. I just want to tell you, I appreciate all the years that your dad’s Richard. You know, they’ve always done great work. And now you guys are doing great work. But I need to show you my new machine that will actually mill out a crown for me. And so basically, it goes without saying I don’t need you anymore. He didn’t say that. But it kind of went without saying. Yeah.
Aaron Hoffman 13:09
All right. Well, good to see you. You know, so we all hop in the car and weren’t quiet and then we’re all kind of Mad Men were like, we just bought a business we owe $250,000 in taxes, we are sunk. This, this is not good. You know, so. But you, you it can either it can either be your anchor, or it can be your wind, right not to sound like a Facebook meme. But so we just started plugging away. And we came back and told everybody, you know, hey, so we’re in competition with machines, almost like Terminator, you know, and, and so are they put your best foot forward and everybody put their heads down. But, you know, that’s where it’s. But if we found out in those times, if we embrace that maybe we can have the technology working for us. Well, now we’ve got three milling units back there, and three sintering furnaces and I know you don’t know, maybe some of that is but we got guys in a room back here that you know design on a computer all day long. And all those things that threatened our future are now working for us. And this allows us to work for dentists in New Jersey and Florida, New York and Washington and, and California and Arizona. I we have in the past four years because of the same technology that threatened our existence as a business. And because of social media. We’re in over 40 States actively in over 40 states four years ago I was doing all the emails. Troy and Eric and I were taking all the calls, and I was importing, you know, I’m speaking on my behalf, because I don’t know everything they were doing. They didn’t know what I was doing. But we were just making things happen. You know, I was accepting all the digital scans, I teros and three shapes, and somebody would want to know, if we work with this scanning company. And I don’t know, I’ll have to Google it and figure out how to do it. And, and I had to make time to do that. And as we embrace that, you know, it’s, it’s kind of like, we’d have a talk. And I’d be like, Dude, I don’t have time to do everything that we’re currently doing. Well tell them we don’t accept that scan. And I’m going well, yeah, I mean, that’s the easy now solution. But if we say yes, and commit to it, eventually this, we might have to keep saying yes. And we might have to hire somebody. So we can keep saying yes. You know, and that’s a that’s a i, I learned in that 2008 2009. You don’t say no. You don’t say no to opportunity. I get it. And I’m a bit I default on the people pleaser side. So I can make my life pretty miserable. All the people pleasers out there saying amen right now. But you know, at the same time, you hear a lot of bashing on people pleasers, but I can tell ya, it can grow a business. It can grow a business. Can you live a healthy life as a people pleaser? That’s debatable. Again, that’s a that’s a hill I’m not sure I’m willing to die on. will it grow a business? Absolutely. And you know what I’m finding out. And I don’t know, I know this doesn’t sound professional. I’m trying to think of a better word. I’ll just say jerk. But there’s so many like jerky mentality type, manage your business, you’re the boss, you tell those dentists, this and that. But I’m just going I want these people to be friends. Like it’s easier to work with friends than it is. jerks, you know, or bosses or so. So I think that’s the relationship part. That’s, that’s very important. And social media makes that really fun. Because I can remember, and you tell me, dude, if I’m rambling, because I, you know, I spoke at an event here a couple of weeks ago, probably a month ago. And when I compact that 40 years of our business, into a 20 minute, so here’s our story. Uh, my man, we’ve, we’ve been through a lot, like, and I’ve been through 30 years of that, like, I felt like my dad owned his business for my whole growing up life kinda as far back as I can kind of remember. Yeah, my dad owns a business. I didn’t really think much of it. You know, don’t at all Dad’s own a business. I mean, kind of what it felt like, you don’t know any different. And now I see what my dad dealt with, you know, and don’t get me wrong. There’s great highs, but there’s some scary lows. And I think that’s the thing about growth is I have learned I will take the problem solving the figuring out how do I balance my family time? How do I balance? An employee that feels like they’re overworked? Somebody that feels like they’re underpaid? Oh, I’ll figure that out. Over 2008 2009 Yeah, family. I hope we can eat employees. I hope we can pay you. I bought into a business and I hope this was a good idea. I mean, you can’t sleep and then you wonder, man, we’re not getting enough business. Do people even like me? Do they like sunflower dental studio? Do they think we’re any good? Do they think I’m any good? Am I any good? Dude, those are mental issues. You’re digging deep into like, core character flaw possible integrity issues or, or I don’t know about integrity. You can still be a good person, just be in the wrong
Shawn Zajas 19:49
just get just ident identity like, do I have enough? Am I going to succeed?
Aaron Hoffman 19:54
Right? And so, to manage growth, I just texted Is the dentist here? Probably an hour and a half, two hours ago. I’m like I can’t help but make my life kind of miserable because there is that dopamine hit, you know, of man, a new doctor called and and, and I guess we’ll just figure out. I don’t know, here we are in 4500 square feet. And I’m going I don’t know where we put more people. But when I say that I understand that some listeners, and I’ve been in circles, where I’m the guy going, oh, yeah, must be nice, you jerk. You know? So So I never want it speak in a way of making a sound like, oh, man, this must be rough. It’s a tough life. Being in a business that’s, that’s growing. And I don’t ever want it to sound that way or arrogant.
Shawn Zajas 21:00
So Aaron, let me just say you, you’ve already shared that it’s, it was this, like, you went through 2008 you guys decided to hustle, you went door to door. I see the struggle, the sacrifice, if you enjoy the spoils, have some sense of you know, it’s prospering right now. And the marketplace is responding and dentists like what you’re doing. And you’re having the problem of how do we scale? Like, anyone, that’s gonna be a hater. Who cares? Like any natural person is going to be like, Aaron way to go. Anyone in the trenches. That’s what I love about that what the Roosevelt quote about, you don’t care about the cynic that’s on the sideline, that that Timid Soul that’s going to hurl accusations about, you know, oh my gosh, like, look how arrogant he is, or whatnot. If they’re not in the game, their voice doesn’t matter. And if they are in the game, they’re gonna have so much understanding of what you’re talking about that they’re going to want to applaud, and congratulate you because that’s amazing. Like, congratulations.
Aaron Hoffman 22:10
Well, thank you. I think that I think the relational part, that’s what’s cool about social media is so many of the dentists that we have partnered with, and we have the pleasure of serving is, I do believe that there is a magnetic trait that is undeniable, in the sense that it used to be, hey, we’re sunflower dental studio, I know, you don’t know us, but we’d love the opportunity to work for you. Well, would we, I don’t know, maybe you’re no good. Maybe you’re a waste of our time. Maybe we’re a waste of your time, maybe your quality you’re used to was this and maybe we’re down here. Or maybe we’re used to getting this kind of work. And everything we do for you is a remake. This was a waste of time. I think the cool thing about social media is you put out the results. And you and they’re real, they can’t be fabricated you, you repost what somebody’s saying about you. And, and you’ve already because of what you’ve put out there. If you’re being real, that’s an important part, if you’re being real. And I will say, even if you were a jerk, even if you were even if you were arrogant, you’d probably get some arrogant jerks to work for. I mean, you probably bring on some pretty hard people to work for. And I think that’s one of the things that I’ve found is I feel like some of our mentality somehow has brought on people that have that same mentality. So you know, almost from the beginning, this is going to be a good match. Because they are saying basically, here and this is so and so. Or, hey, sunflower through email. Hey, sunflower, I’ve been seeing some of your work. I’d love to partner with you guys. Well, why? Because they obviously like our results. They see some of the conversations we have because sometimes they’ll take screenshots of the camaraderie, the friendships, the fist bumps, the, you know. And I think dentists are kind of, I mean, don’t get me wrong. This is where we say, well, Amazon’s gonna take over everything. But are they because by by the thought of Amazon Taking over that would mean have you ever been to Golden Corral? Right? Nobody wants to really raise their hand. But we’ve all been there. And it’s glorious. It’s wonderful by
Shawn Zajas 25:11
especially the rolls. Yes,
Aaron Hoffman 25:14
but the only by any logical thinking when Golden Corral rose up all other restaurants should have fallen to the wayside. Because Golden Corral for I don’t know, it’s actually been so long and I don’t. I went I think we took our kids there about 10 years ago on Branson, Missouri for vacation. They’re like, you’ve been neglecting us. This is child abuse. We love Golden Corral. Where else can you have? Pancakes, steak and cotton candy on the same plate. So but that is the all in one great price. I mean PDQ price delivery quality, you can pick to any two combinations of those three. That’s how you can run a business. But Golden Corral kind of does. Like all three of those. It’s all delicious. You get it now. And it’s a pretty good price. I’m not saying it’s healthy. I’m saying it’s good.
Shawn Zajas 26:19
How much stock do you have in their company? Yeah, right.
Aaron Hoffman 26:22
Exactly. Do we want to cut to a commercial break? But
Shawn Zajas 26:29
you’re making me hungry, man. And yeah, ever you are. So you’re probably like,
Aaron Hoffman 26:33
I know, it’s like cotton candy and pancakes every time. But I think to myself, who doesn’t still like to go to a steakhouse, and have the waiter serve, or waitress serve this hot, sizzling steak on the skillet still? And they’re like, if you wouldn’t mind, would you cut into your steak? Make sure it’s how you like it? Do you mind if I do, thought you’d never ask. I believe in humans, that there’s an element of relationships and dopamine, and I want to serve you and you want to be served and I want to be served and you want to serve me, that never goes away, that won’t die, it will not go away. We enjoy that. That’s, that’s the part of purpose that we enjoy. It gives us purpose to make somebody happy. And I don’t think that’s going anywhere. But again, if you have a mentality of oh, we’re sunk, then you’re maybe playing the wrong game. And, and I’ve heard other podcast or speakers, and there is that theme of the ones that do. Who overcome a lot of challenges. They’re the ones that don’t look at these challenges as nails in their coffin, they look at them as opportunities, you know, and, and to become better and hey, we you remember last year how bad our lives sucked? Because? Because we didn’t have any business. And now this year, I mean, we put out the work and yeah, so it’s that’s what that’s why me I can kind of go all over the place when I talk about all this stuff, because it just It still blows my mind how how much our business has changed and how much the world around us is changing.
Shawn Zajas 28:50
So Aaron, I think you’re in danger of becoming an entrepreneur. And I actually think you already are because you’re trying to portray that you’re Aaron Hoffman the technician. But you’re you’re beyond that. In your journey you’ve already laid hold of mindsets, understandings. knowledge that’s liberated you simply from I’m not saying being a tech isn’t, isn’t respectable. I’m just saying the way in which you understand the marketplace, the ways in which you are co leading this company, with the other partners. You are an entrepreneur, like it’s it’s amazing to behold the ways in which you’re even just dissecting the journey that you’ve gone on since 2008. And how amazing it is that you had those challenges right out of the gate. So you kind of couldn’t settle into some sort of rhythm couldn’t settle into some sort of like that this is just the way businesses this is the way that our fathers did it. And we’re just going to keep doing it this way. It’s like no, you had to write away, iterate, do something different because all of a sudden there was an issue The economy was coming to a halt. You guys were in some crazy business debt, and you had to do something about it. And you guys all took that problem, put it on your backs, and you just door to door made away. And that just creates some sense of resilience of like, wow, we just face an obstacle that could have put us out of business. And instead, we overcame a new technology comes out, seems like it could put us out of business. Instead, we’re going to pivot, we’re going to embrace it, lean into it, and continue to overcome. Like, it’s amazing what you guys have done?
Aaron Hoffman 30:30
Well, and I think I appreciate hearing that. Thank you. And I want to make it clear. I mean, it’s, it’s this whole place, it really is this, this place is nothing, just me, it’s, it’s nothing, it couldn’t make it, it couldn’t, I wouldn’t want it. Each of us partners of talk, like we can go out and just start our own. I don’t, I don’t want my own thing. My partners don’t want their own thing. We we enjoy what we have here. We like our people. And, you know, that’s part of the reason why I stayed with a couple of them after work that kind of, alright, we need to reevaluate here, you know, you’re on, you’re having to answer so many calls, you can’t even do your job. You know, they’re telling us that, and I’m, I’m hearing it, I’m telling them back, this is what you’re saying. We got to figure this out. I mean, we’ve got the school phone system ever since we moved here. But you know, now that we’ve been here for a year and a half, we’ve got to, we’ve got to call the, the local company here and have them you know, they can rename all of our lines and all that. We’ve got to get it to where you just pass off these calls. And just you know, if it’s a design question, if it’s a scan question, if it’s an implant question, if that’s a cosmetic question, if it’s a shade consult question, you know, you need to just start bouncing these calls off to other people, because you you don’t need to come back and explain, you know, what the call is about? Just say, Yep, that sounds like an errand call. I’m gonna put you on to Aaron. Just yeah, we got re evaluate because the business has changed in the past nine months. I mean. So it is overwhelming, overwhelming, you know, when you when you think about everything, it kind of goes like and I think you have, I have learned to take it day by day. And I so cliche, super cliche, but sweet glory. Like, if you if you try to look at it any bigger than that, it’s overwhelming and very defeating, extremely defeating. And I’ll never forget. So. So there was 2008 2009. And, and those were rough, because they were just scary, like financially. And, you know, prior to becoming an owner, I remember having different jobs. While I’m a dental technician. I would paint rental homes, you know, my wife and I be like, we need like 700 800 bucks. Well, I’ll talk to a guy at church, I know he’s got some rental properties, he probably needs painted. I’ll paint a house over the week. Next, like two or three weekends, I would do that. I used to work at FedEx, just for a couple months. I work at three in the morning till seven then I’ll drive to work and work from seven to four or five. Do whatever it takes, right. And so but my brother said, well, Aaron, just thank God you only have financial problems. Yeah, that’s, that’s pretty good. All right. So I took that from my older brother, big brother wisdom and, and I’ve applied that well then 2020 We hit COVID. And dentist could not work. So means labs can’t work. Which means we’re not working. What a weird thing to tell. I mean, in the history of the United States. We’ve never had this happen. So all right, well, we thought 2008 2009 was tough. Here we go. So we tell our team guys, we we don’t know really what’s going on, but we’re not gonna get any work. And we’re LM like to think about it. It was just such a wreck. So we closed our doors for what, three months. But at that time, we were in a small group at our church, and we were meeting there for a few weeks until things got real serious and they just everybody was saying no, I mean, everybody was shaming each other. Right? You know, I heard that you guys were meeting and, you know, there was so so much stigma So anyway, but before we stopped meeting there for a while and went to a group chats. One of the gals, one of our friends said, you know, I said I just so sorry. My wife got breast cancer diagnosed with breast cancer a week before we closed our doors. So I started hearing that dentists are gonna be closing and all that my wife says, I’ve got to go to the doctor, I feel a lump in my breast. We go and we find out. Yeah, a week before we close, she’s got breast cancer. All right. Well, what’s interesting is, is I thought to myself, Man, that world would not word for word, but in my mind, I’m like, Man for, for me to be able to take you to your appointments. I mean, the world would have to stop, right? Well, it kind of stopped. And so I was able to take her to her chemo appointments and all that. So I don’t know which it was. But both of those things kind of kept my mind clear from each other, like, what’s going to happen to the business, what’s going to happen to my wife? Well, if I thought about my wife too long, I’d go back to the business and just ping pong back and forth, because there was a whole lot going on. And I was thankful. I so the lady from small group said, Aaron, you just almost have to choose to be grateful. And I’m saying that kind of in a rude way. But she didn’t say it like that at all. She meant the best, she said, with way more tact. But it’s so true. I had to make the choice to be like, thank God that I have a business that has to be shut down right now. Some people wish they had a business that could shut down. I did like, change how at least I have a wife that has breast cancer. Because some people out there are feeling so much loneliness. They want to put a gun in their mouth. You maybe I’m being a little too raw there. But I mean, that’s the reality of loneliness. Right? So yeah, I had to start digging deep and choose to be grateful. And so it was almost like from that moment on. We reopen our business. I’ll never forget getting a call from a doctor in Georgia. I had been posting by the way, in 2000 22,019. Starting to post I was invited to be a part of a Dental Group on Facebook. I got invited with about I don’t know, I don’t remember dude, like maybe 200 people, 200 dentists. And I told my partners guys, I’ve been invited into this group, and they want me to share the lab side. And there’s like 50 or 200 dentists in there. We’ll find out all their dental students. They’re not even working yet.
Aaron Hoffman 38:13
2020 So I started posting I think an 18 or 19. No real traction, no likes, really, I mean, just kind of some here and there. started posting some of our work on Facebook and then got an Instagram account. My dad would like it, you know, I’m like, Thanks, dad. But it’s not really the like that I’m looking for. I’m looking for DD s after Ron Hoffman selfishly thinking. And here we are 2020. Now there’s like 20,000 dentists than their dental students. Well, now, we’re at 2023. And today, there’s 56,000 dentist, and dental students within this private group on Facebook. And I still share a weekly tip every week. And that’s that investment to that’s why I mean, there’s just so much dude. You know, people would say, Erin, don’t you want to go home be with your family and Well, I do. But I’m committed to this. And there’s one of these days it’s going to pay off. And my family understands I’ve told them I want to come home but I’ve got to do this technician Tip Tuesday. I committed to it. I I think there’s a lot of opportunity to it. But now there’s 56,000 dentists in there now there’s dentists, but sorry students and dentists. And now there’s students that graduated three years ago. And now are saying, hey Aaron. I just bought a fee for service practice in Ohio, Indiana, New York, Virginia, wherever. And I want to use you guys. I’ve been watching your tips for the past two years. It’s paying off, it’s paying off. And the interesting thing about social media is it doesn’t cost anything but time. And don’t get me wrong, man time is expensive. It’s our most expensive. Like, you can’t get any of that back. You. You could say, well, I can get your life back because you won’t have to work as much if you build enough wealth or whatever. Oh, I suppose. But working less is not the same as gaining a year. You know what I mean? It’s not the same thing. You can make more money, there’s a difference between money and time, you can make more money, you can’t make more time. So while it was a very expensive investment in that group, here we are because of those relationships and dental students here and I’m not a dentist, but I saw your tip on this. Is there any way? How would you handle it? If this happened? I don’t even work for this person. They don’t have DDS after their name, but I’m gonna reply, and I’m gonna invest my time. And it’s putting me behind my family is going to wonder why I’m taking so long tonight. But I need to reply, and it hurts. But again, here we are. In the past two weeks, we’ve had eight dentist reach out. Still today. It’s dude, I’m telling you. I don’t feel like I deserve it. You know? I don’t feel like you know, and it’s and it’s funny, because I say that about myself. But I look at our team and I go You guys deserve this. This is awesome. I don’t we don’t want to work them too hard. But but we’re like, Guys, you you’re doing an amazing job. You are part of something we’re in Topeka, Kansas. We started in dirty, dumpy north to pick up, I’m talking to the industrial like, let’s not take a picture of our building or the inside of this place. Because it’s a dump. It’s wore out. It certainly didn’t start off that way. But after we overpopulated it inside and all this equipment it it was getting a beat down. And so I don’t know if that’s information that you, you know, you’re looking for. But I seriously still, you know, three years later, I’ve learned to be grateful for these problems. Thankful that. Yes, eight doctors have called in the past two weeks. I got to be grateful because it feels overwhelming. It feels overwhelming. How are we gonna? How am I going to do this? How are we going to do this? I’ve got some people complaining about being overworked, you know, but that’s the, that’s the thing is letting them know. And they should know that. I and my partners are being genuine. By letting them know, Hey, we care about you. Trust me, we care about you. I mean, I’ve told them the same verbatim. You know, I can’t tell you how much you mean to I mean, think about what would you what would we do? If you just left today, it wouldn’t be good. So please just hang in there. We’ve made changes in the past. This is just another step we got to take in the right direction, but we value you and and it’s interesting. The dynamic has changed in here over the past few years. Because it used to be rough man, kind of like a locker room like a men’s locker room. I mean, you wear the wrong shirt, wear the wrong shoes, wear your hair the wrong way, making a statement. What do you look like a clown you know, whatever. This place is so much healthier. And and we’ve got space now so we’re not all on each other’s toes. It’s uh, it’s, it’s been good. I’m very grateful for and yeah, you just never want to put off this. Anytime you talk about growth, we don’t want to make it some again, like, oh, must be nice because I’ve been the guy in the circle that, you know. I’ll never forget in 2000 When my brother had an opportunity to buy a lake house, he was still working. He was working from home. He had corporate job working from home and he was asking me if I wanted to buy in. I’m like, I don’t know if he remember it our business just closed this door. And I don’t know if we’re ever reopening. Yeah, I don’t think I’m interested. Truth be known I, I really, I don’t want another place to take care of. So it worked out. And I don’t say that out of bitterness, I’ve but the choosing to be grateful, because we made it, you know, we made it, and we’ll continue to make it and we partner with those that have the same mentality and putting out their best. You know, that’s the greatest thing I could say about a lot of the new young dentists that we get is they’re asking us, did everything look good? Please just let me know, send it back, send me a text say, hey, we can’t see this, we need this better. I’m totally open man that that’s so different than how it was years ago, when we were being told no, this, this is how it’s done. You guys can make it work and, and he’s just changed because it’s more of a relationship. We used to say we had relationships, but relationships are always better with GIFs and memes sent via text message. Nothing, nothing like a nothing like a good funny joke or something with a with a funny GIF after it on on a text message. So
Shawn Zajas 46:32
okay, so Aaron, I love what you said there was a lot there. I have to know if you don’t mind me asking, like how is your wife?
Aaron Hoffman 46:42
So my wife is full recovery. She’s doing great. Here we are three years later, and, you know, their scars and, and but again, when you go through that, and I don’t have to be careful how I say it because I don’t I don’t want to just trump through this, but because for some people, it’s not a gift some people it’s a death, right? And so, and I don’t want to make vague or too descriptive comparisons. But you know, when you see someone who adopts a child, you’re, you’re like, man, that. That’s amazing. That’s a gift. I could never do it. But that’s a gift that that’s awesome. You see somebody that has a child with special needs? That person looks at it like no, they’re they’re a gift. I mean, they’ve shown me so much. And don’t get me wrong. That’s where I’m saying, I wish I could tiptoe around everybody situation because some people are like, Yeah, you’re saying that, but it’s not a gift. This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to this child, you know, so So I don’t want to say out of any kind of disrespect. But you know, same thing with cancers. For us, it was a little bit of a gift that our children and myself and I don’t want to say that disrespectful, my wife because I didn’t have breast cancer. My wife did so. But she’s on the same page with me that you know, the perspective you can gain from those lows. Your hugs, feel different. Man, if your wife has never had a life threatening situation, you don’t know what those hugs feel like. You don’t know. They feel different. And your I love yous say different and your text messages are different. So it’s kind of a gift, you know, and if you choose that gratitude, you know, it’s a choice through those situations. And so yeah, don’t you like it? When you ask me a question? You get far more than you’re asking for.
Shawn Zajas 49:05
I just needed to know that she was okay. Because you shared or else I wouldn’t have asked. Yeah. And it’s amazing that that she is all clear. Like that. Yeah, that is that is amazing. I I’m just so proud of you and your journey. So here’s my question and close. Here you are. You’ve been at it now for what do you say? Almost like 35 years?
Aaron Hoffman 49:34
Easy cowboy. 30. All right. I’m not that old.
Shawn Zajas 49:39
So you’ve been at it for 30 years. Yeah. Now, let’s say you’re walking down the street. And you see Aaron Hoffman who’s 18 years old. And you just have one moment to share one sentiment with him. What do you say to him?
Aaron Hoffman 50:03
Remember how year after year, all your friends wrote in your yearbook, never change? Change. Because I’m not the same person I was. Last year, I wasn’t last year, the same as I was it, you know, five years. And that same grace you give yourself to know that. Now, don’t get me wrong, man, you and I both know, and anybody knows that there’s some people that don’t change. And that that’s hard. That’s hard to deal with. But I know for myself, I’m like, and, and that’s part of the reason why it’s hard to work with those people, is because you’re waiting for that change. Like, don’t you want to change? Like, I’m glad I’m not the same. I don’t want to be the same. I look at how I handled things today. And I’m kind of like, no, but don’t do that again, you know. So that’s part of the change. And so yeah, I would say because I’m so I used to be such a weird, I’m probably Am I still probably am a weirdo. But I was I was goofball. Like, I was a goofball. I mean, so yeah, that’s what I would say is, people tell you not to change. You change. It’s good. It’s a good thing.
Shawn Zajas 51:40
Amen. So Aaron, if if people are listening right now, and they’re like, oh, my gosh, I want to connect with this lab, and see how they can help me out. Where do you want them going?
Aaron Hoffman 51:49
Yeah, so you know, that’s a good question. They can connect with me on Instagram. And it would be Aaron, Space Lab guy, space Hoffman. Look for that. And on Facebook on the same I made them kind of the same. So it’s Aaron lab guy Hoffman. And then you can connect, you know that way. Or you can email us at texts like technicians, abbreviated, so T E. Ch s at sunflower dental studio.com.
Shawn Zajas 52:27
And thank you so much today just for for sharing the story that you’ve shared just about your your journey. Like I love what you’re doing in dentistry. I love that you’re pioneering. I love that you are just so open to growth and going where you need to go so you can continue just to add value in dentistry. Like seriously, thank you so much for letting me interview you today.
Aaron Hoffman 52:50
Well, thanks for the opportunity. I’m thankful for my partners who are very much the same mindset. You know, I just happen to have this opportunity, but they’re very much of the same mindset. Good guys, and I’m thankful for him. So from all of us here at sunflower. Thanks, Shawn for the opportunity. Appreciate you man. You bet.
Shawn Zajas 53:12
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