As a dentist, Johnny Kwanhoom Kim works in an extraordinarily confined space: people’s mouths. But as an entrepreneur, his business stretches far and wide across the sweep of sprawling Greater Los Angeles.
The affable D.D.S. owns seven L.A.-area commercial properties in which a host of other dentists—for whom he has given either partnerships or employment—practice under his California Dental Group. This profitable dental office-cum-real estate approach makes Kim his buildings’ tenant as well as the landlord.
“It’s the best way to have a retirement plan,” says the ambitious Korean-born dentist, 54.
Now he aspires to further fatten his real estate portfolio by buying up more properties and launching more offices. Problem: His background is in biology and chemistry, not business and balance sheets. He needs financial savvy to take him where he wants to go.
Solution: Kim is participating in an innovative pro bono mentoring program from UBS Wealth Management Americas that teams high-growth small business owners with select financial advisors and certain of their clients. A six-month New York pilot with 10 entrepreneurs completed last February. This past May two more projects got under way, this time in Los Angeles and Chicago.
“Elevating Entrepreneurs: Small Business Advisory Program” gives company owners one-on-one strategic financial and business advice and access to UBS senior executives, plus a smorgasbord of other UBS resources. Objective: new job creation.
The wirehouse first chooses the entrepreneurs and matches each one with an advisor. Then, from the advisor’s book, it picks a client with expertise in an area that would help the business owner most. Goal: to take the local company to the next level and in so doing, generate jobs. The program is an extension of UBS’s “Revitalizing America” initiative launched in fall 2010.
“Our financial advisors have tremendous business background and understanding of finance. The majority of UBS clients are first-generation wealth who have built their businesses from the ground up and were in the same position as many of the small business owners in our program. That combination makes a well-rounded [mentorship],” says Lori Feinsilver, who heads the program from New York City.
The advisor matched with dentist Kim is Michael J. Hatch, 34, a vice president of investments with the Feuer/Hatch/Doshi group based on tony Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. The team manages half-a-billion dollars in assets of primarily high-net-worth and ultrahigh-net-worth individuals.
Hatch, who joined the firm in 2003, is a certified financial planner and has the CIMA (Certified Investment Management Analyst) designation as well. Among his specialties are portfolio manager research and selection, portfolio construction and estate planning. He has a B.S. in economics and organizational communications from the University of Utah.
“It’s a neat idea and exciting to be a part of something that UBS is doing to give back,” says the eager FA. “We really need to create new jobs in this country. If there’s anything I can do, I’m more than happy to help.”
Partnering with mentor Hatch is his client, Mark Gabay, 55, owner of Charles Company, a flourishing real estate developer and investment partnership firm in West Hollywood. He has decades of experience and expertise in turning raw land and rundown properties into income-producing assets.
“Mark is very knowledgeable on the financing side, as good as any banker,” Hatch says.
At the time of this writing, the two had just begun working with Kim. Already notched was a two-hour meeting that served to draw up a fundamental game plan to boost the dentist’s presence in L.A.
“I originally wanted to grow to 10 locations. But now, after meeting with Mike and Mark, I think I can go to 20, 50, even 100! Those guys are great!” says Kim, energetic and enterprising. He came from Korea to L.A. as a child and grew up in modest means. Working his way through college, he was a gas station attendant and janitor.
“Dr. Kim is self-made. He established the dental practice and built it up to create a secure income stream. His intent is to utilize his business to create a larger real estate portfolio that he controls, which would create annuities for him,” explains Gabay, who immigrated to L.A. with his family from Iran at age 14. He too worked a series of jobs while attending school; at 25, he made his start in real estate.
The six-month UBS program, which includes training for the advisor-mentors, requires once-a-month meetings with the business owners. In New York, the FAs spent about eight to 10 hours with them monthly over the six-month period.
The pilot—with businesses located in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood, Brooklyn and Newark, N.J., among other areas—focused exclusively on minority-owned companies. But now, any qualifying small business owner is eligible.
Benefiting from customized one-on-one advice are nine L.A. companies in urban or middle class suburban communities, such as Compton, Corona and Woodland Hills. Average 2011 revenue for the businesses was $8.75 million. The financial advisors are based in six branches spread throughout Los Angeles.
Industrious Kim has no trouble finding dentists to join his ever-expanding group since new dental school grads face a tough L.A. job market and are heavily burdened with student loans. So low overhead and participation in group buying, marketing and advertising have obvious appeal.
Kim provides the initial capital and operates the practices under his DBA. At one point, he had 11 locations; but even after selling the practices, he still maintains ownership of the real estate.