The Aspen Group is coming off a two-year growth streak during which it made acquisitions and saw its revenue double to $3 billion in 2021, says founder, CEO and chairman Bob Fontana.
Today, the company’s portfolio includes brands such as Chapter Aesthetic Studio, a cosmetic medical clinic company; ClearChoice Management Services, which provides support services to dental implant centers; and WellNow emergency care.
Aspen Group now has 1,100 locations and 18,000 employees in 46 states. The company has 50 offices in Illinois and about 20 in the Chicago area. Across all brands, he says he serves more than 35,000 patients every day.
By the end of 2022, Aspen Group plans to have more than 1,200 locations nationwide.
“It’s almost a new practice every three days, on average,” Fontana says.
Aspen Group was founded in 1998 in East Syracuse, NY, and began solely as a dental practice support agency known as Aspen Dental. Dentists’ offices still make up the bulk of the company’s footprint: approximately 950 locations.
“We created a model in Aspen that was not only a way to get high-quality dental care, but also fit the person’s life and help them overcome any barriers they faced in getting dental care. dental care,” says Fontana.
Along the way, Aspen Group has taken on private equity investments from Ares Management, Leonard Green & Partners and American Securities.
In 2017, Aspen Group moved its headquarters to Chicago and now has a 200,000 square foot office in Fulton Market, where it employs 200 people.
“Coming to Chicago was really important for us to continue to attract great talent,” Fontana said, adding that he plans to add 100 more people to the company’s team this year.
Like most other businesses, Aspen Group has been challenged by COVID-19. Considered an essential business, the company focused on supplying personal protective equipment and keeping workers healthy during the early days of the pandemic. Now he is resisting the labor shortage that affects all industries.
“It’s a tight job market, but we’ve managed to get through it,” Fontana said.
As of August 2021, less than half of dental hygienists who left their jobs during the pandemic had returned to work, according to a study published this month by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association and the American Dental Association. The study shows that 1.6% of participants no longer considered working as dental hygienists, which would represent a permanent reduction of 3,300 dental hygienists in the United States.