Success story: Mixing business and family in a busy dental practice

Mixing business and family can be a rough road, but for husband and wife dentists Dr Lesley Moffat and Dr Marc Nalder, it’s a way of life—one that has seen the 20-somethings fast track their path to success.

 7 minutes

 

For Dr Marc Nalder, getting into dentistry made sense; his two brothers Sven and Kai, both dentists, paved the way before him. On a trip to Bunbury, he observed firsthand his oldest brother Sven practise dentistry and “instantly fell in love”. Shortly after, he fell for Dr Lesley Moffat, a fellow dental student at the University of Western Australia. She wasn’t as instantly smitten, however. “I chased her for the whole year until she gave in,” he says with a laugh. 

Dr Moffat concedes, “I thought I’d better give him a go, to see if he’d back off.” 

Famous last words. In 2014, Dr Nalder and Dr Moffat purchased their first dental practice with another couple in Perth’s Midland. One marriage, a new home, and two more dentistry practices later, and the couple is thriving. They share an easy, companionable warmth and frequently finish each other’s sentences, chatting from the living room of their new beachfront family home. And, they say, they couldn’t have done it without BOQ Specialist.

 

A family affair 

After the success of their first practice, the couple were looking for a new project to sink their teeth into. An increasingly close relationship between Dr Nalder and his brothers Sven and Kai made going into family business a natural fit.  

When they found a practice in Ellenbrook, on the doorstep of Perth’s Swan Valley, they decided to take the plunge. “Sven and I had a wine or two at his house and decided to make this happen,” says Dr Nalder. “But he was cautious: ‘Oh, I don’t know. You don’t mix family with work’ he said …”

“The fear was that it wouldn’t work out,” adds Dr Moffat. “And if it doesn’t work out, that not only affects the business but your family relationship too. But I’ve always advocated for the three boys working together. It is so unique that they’re all dentists and all have a good reputation. I just thought they should utilise that and make the most of their situation.”

Luckily, her instinct proved correct. They easily secured finance from BOQ Specialist, and navigating the family-owned dental practice proved all smiles. Since then, the Nalders and Dr Moffat have bought yet another practice in Mandurah, a coastal town south of Perth. They also switched over their initial loan to BOQ Specialist, making for a much more streamlined process. 

 

Finding the dream house…

Their smooth run was interrupted when it came to searching for a family home. First up, an arduous two year hunt didn’t reveal anything that took their fancy. Then they found the one: a sprawling three-storey home in Hillarys, with views of the iconic harbour and a set-up perfect for their future family. They put in an offer, and it was accepted—but finance wasn’t forthcoming.

The private banker they had engaged eventually told them they would need to refinance their commercial loans to take out a residential one. “We were at the point where our offer would fall through,” says Dr Moffat. “It was just taking him so long to get his head around our situation.”

 

Managing complexity

“Our business structure is quite complicated; we’ve got a lot of companies, a lot of trusts,” explains Dr Nalder. “The other complexity was that we were so young. We’re 25 and 27 and we had bought three practices within roughly a year. It would be very confusing for a regular bank: they would ask, ‘Are these guys good business people or is there something going on?’”

With the clock ticking, they turned to BOQ Specialist—who knew the ins and outs of their finances. The dentists were thrilled to discover they offered a home loan option

“BOQ Specialist were able to read our situation properly, and say ‘Okay, I’ve seen this before, I know what this is. Yep, this is possible,’” says Dr Nalder. 

Consultants Karyn Bailey and Kate Potts worked concurrently on the financing, seamlessly working out the nuances of the commercial and residential loans to secure a quick outcome. “We didn’t have to fill in the blanks, they did it all,” says Dr Nalder. “They communicate really well so it almost seemed like they had the same role.”

 

Teamwork

Their efforts paid off. “We approached them for the residential loan and had finance approval within a couple of days,” says Dr Nalder. “It was unbelievable.”

They celebrated the win by walking down to Hillarys Boat Harbour, their favourite place—and new backyard. “After the finance was approved, it was like ‘Yep, life is finally moving forward,’” says Dr Moffat. “We moved in straight away!”

How do they manage sharing both their work and family life? “You mean, how have we not killed each other?” asks Dr Moffat with a laugh. “We work at the same practices but on different days, so we’re never actually there on the same day except Saturdays. But we enjoy working together.”

“It’s just an absolute blessing that we want the same thing,” says Dr Nalder.

“We’ve ironed out any early creases and now we are literally the best of friends, all three of us—and Lesley too. It’s incredible.” 

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