Oct 23, 2022
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Dr. Josh Belof | Bio
oshua Belof is child of God, a husband to Elizabeth, and father to 3 amazing young girls. One year ago they moved to the mountains of Franklin, NC, a very small rural town at the base of Smokey Mountain National Park, and is about to open his second FFS startup practice. Ten months ago, he sold his first startup dental practice, also FFS, after owning it for 11 years, with no commitment to return to dentistry. He has spent the last year evaluating many business opportunities but found that that dentistry is truly the best business one can own, and he will be launching his new startup practice in the next week. He believes that you don’t have to accept the current situation you are in, and that dentists are so blessed because we have so many options to reinvent our careers and rewrite our own stories. It just takes the guts to step out and make the changes.
As a little boy from New Jersey, he always wanted to be an airline pilot. He and his family moved to Tampa FL in his high school years. He started working in a dental office at age 18, starting with fetching his bosses’ (and soon to become mentor’s) coffee, washing his car, cleaning out the attic, assisting chairside, filling in at the front desk, and eventually carving teeth out of soap. Dentistry was interesting, but not as much as aviation.
He then went to Clearwater Christian College graduating with a BS in Pre-Medicine. However, undergrad education and the progression to dental school, was just a back up plan. While in college he earned his pilot’s license moving one step closer to his airline pilot dream. But then, everything changed.
While in college, his mother received a cancer diagnosis, and passed away 6 short weeks later. There were some amazing nurses and doctors who displayed a high level of compassion and caring, and this left a big impact. He decided to turn his goal towards dentistry so that he could impact others in a manner similar to the cancer doctors. He applied to one school, and in 2007 received his DMD degree from the University of Florida College of Dentistry.
Immediately after school, he went back to work for his mentor, Dr Jeff Weihe, who taught him advanced CEREC applications and that a FFS practice is a practice model worth emulating. The financial crisis hit, and Dr. Belof eventually found himself working for a large corporation- the complete opposite of a FFS practice. Needless to say, this was a poor fit and one of 3 three major career moments that motivated a big change. The only way forward was ownership. And it had to be a startup.
Most thought a FFS startup was too risky, but it was a risk with a big payoff. And it did payoff. In 2010, he opened the doors to South Bay Dentistry in Apollo Beach, FL. There is a long DentalTown thread documenting the entire journey.
A few years later, he hit another major career moment. Instead of running the practice, the practice began running him, which under normal circumstances, he had capacity to deal with. But now, with his father being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, there was no margin left. Suddenly, a chaotic practice was too much to deal with. He was in the middle of a staff meeting with their brand new consultant, hearing about all the extra work tasks they were to undertake, and overload hit its boiling point. He made a commitment that from that day on, the schedule would be templated exactly to his ideal day, and not waver. This gave much needed margin in his life, and helped release him to give the emotional energy his father needed and deserved.
The practice continued to grow, and he added an amazing associate. This allowed him to step back to 3 days per week. Production was up, overhead was low. On paper, everything was fantastic. But Florida wasn’t where him and his wife wanted to be- they always yearned to live in the mountains.
During the COVID shutdown, they had time and space to dream, and realized that they could make a move to the mountains actually happen, with enough cushion to take some time off and evaluate business options. Also contributing, was a sense of burnout. They decided to make the leap, and the sell the practice, which seemed unwise to many. The moving timeline accelerated a bit when he broke both of his arms, forcing him to leave the chairside earlier than planned.
For the past year, he has been enjoying time in the mountains, walking in the woods, building a chicken coop, and spending some time away from the rat race, while also evaluating other business opportunities. It turns out, an unusual dental opportunity was right in his back yard. A dental office in town has been sitting empty for the past 2 years, only requiring a little bit of love and dental equipment. The doors are set to open this week for Career 2.0, AKA Signature Dentistry of Franklin, a FFS startup with plans to be low overhead, high tech, high touch, in a town that is dentally underserved. The FFS aspect will help fund the Heroes program, which is meant to act almost as a second practice within the practice, that donates dentistry to local community heroes who have demonstrated selfless service to the community.
Dr. Belof’s core values for his dental office are gratitude, kindness, excellence, hospitality, positivity, and difference making. These values and a renewed sense of WHY are the driving force for Signature Dentistry.
About Dr. Sonny Spera
Dr. Sonny Spera graduated from Union Endicott High School in 1981. With a four-year basketball scholarship he graduated from Syracuse University in 1985; majoring in Chemistry and Psychology. He was a member of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity. He was also the co-captain of the 1984-1985 Syracuse basketball team.
Dr. Spera graduated from SUNY Buffalo Dental School in 1989 in the top 10% of his class. At SUNY Buffalo Dental School he was a member of the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Honorary Society. He was also UB Graduate Assistant Basketball coach.
Dr. Spera has been in private practice since 1989 and is a member of the American Dental Association, the New York State Dental Association, the Sixth District Dental Society and the Broome County Dental Society. He is also a member of the International Association of Orthodontics, the BC Dental Society and the BCDS Study Club.
Away from the office, he volunteers with several community organizations, including the Elks Club, the Son’s of Italy, the STNY Flyers, the Academy of General Dentistry, and the Basketball Coaches Association of New York. He is the founder and president of ME Hoops Inc.
Dr. Spera currently resides with his wife Angela, whom he met at Syracuse University, and their three children, Marcus, Erica, and Carla. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, basketball, golf, music and movies.
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