Dental brokerage now dominates the industry: Family’s success worth smiling about


Roy Brown, 1954

Roy Brown didn’t just start a company 30 years ago, he founded an industry.

ROI Corporation was the first company in Canada to professionally appraise and broker the sale of dental practices. Other companies have followed, but ROI Corp. still enjoys a dominant 60-70 per cent of the market share in Ontario.

The company’s growth and success parallels that of Mississauga. Roy and Joan Brown still live in Lorne Park, and all four of their children live close by.

Son Tim has been with the company for 20 years. He is now company president and describes his father as a visionary and a risk-taker.

“Dad mortgaged his house in Lorne Park and ran the business out of it,” said Tim. “With four kids, that was a huge risk and I’m not sure I’d have the courage to do it. He was the visionary…I’m energy and youth.”

It was a risk that paid off in large part because of Roy’s 25-year experience in the dental supply business. Some 17 years ago, he moved the business out of his house and into offices on Dunwin Dr.

ROI Corp. has always been a family business. Roy’s wife Joan worked with him, and daughter Lanee Brown Rourke spent 15 years working for ROI Corp. before heading back to school and deciding to teach yoga. Her dream is that one of her two sons will eventually join the firm.

“There are about 16,000 dental practices in Canada and we’ve done about 4,000 appraisals and sold 850 of them over the years,” said Roy with pride.

It is a very personal business that requires complete confidentiality, and there is no course that teaches it. The only way to learn the business is through working in it.

This is Roy’s last year in the business. He has sold it to son Tim, a real estate broker with visions of his own.

With an over-supply of dentists in most Canadian cities, hanging out a shingle and setting up a new practice does not bring in patients the way it once did. Buying a dental practice is the way to go, despite the cost. The average cost for an urban dental practice runs about $400,000.

Tim says there are a variety of reasons dental practices end up being sold, but every one begins with a D.

“Death, disability, divorce, despair and disillusionment drive dentists to exit ownership,” said Tim.

The company, which has four dentists on staff, is very busy these days not just selling dental practices, but doing appraisals accurate and thorough enough to stand up in court if necessary.

Marilyn Haines is the Director of Appraisals and has been with the company 16 years.

“We’re the Rolls Royce of appraisals,” Haines said. “We’re the largest and most expensive, but clients come to us because we’re the best.”

As baby boomer dentists retire, business for the company is booming, but Tim says this pattern will not continue forever and he is planning new directions.

Tim loves the business and his wife Sandy shares his dedication. On April 30 when 100 guests celebrated ROI Corp.’s 30th anniversary and Roy Brown’s 74th birthday at an open house Sandy was writing her real estate licence exam so that she too can handle sales.

By the end of the year Roy Brown will be retired and hitting the links. He and wife Joan are also celebrating another achievement this year — their 55th wedding anniversary.

By Jan DeanThe Mississauga News