The 2018 Missouri Small Business Person of the Year is Dr. Melissa Smith, owner and managing dentist of Washington Smiles Complete Health Dentistry in Washington.
Administrator Linda McMahon, the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, announced on Monday the Small Business Person of the Year winners from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
All of the winners have been invited to attend ceremonies in Washington, D.C., April 29-30 where they will be honored with their individual award along with special recognition of the three runners-up and the naming of the 2018 National Small Business Person of the Year.
The SBA’s 2018 Small Business Exporter of the Year winners from each state will be announced later this week.
“It is my honor and distinct pleasure to announce the 52 winners from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico,” McMahon said. “These small business owners define entrepreneurial spirit and best represent the 30 million small businesses that are the backbone and economic engine of our economy. I look forward to welcoming the winners to Washington next month when they are officially honored for their achievements.”
Each year since 1963, the president has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week.
National Small Business Week is set as the first week in May, and this year the dates are April 29-May 5.
After the national awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., McMahon will continue National Small Business Week with a bus road show starting in Jacksonville, Fla., and then continue on to South Carolina and North Carolina.
Each stop she will meet with small business owners, visit small businesses and hold roundtable discussions.
Additionally, virtual events, recognition and educational opportunities throughout SBA’s 10 regions and 68 districts will be held throughout the week.
Within a month of graduating with honors from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry, Smith accepted a position as a managing dentist with Washington Square Dentistry in Washington.
Three years later in 2007, she became its owner and rebranded the business as Washington Smiles Complete Health Dentistry.
Having purchased a practice she knew well, Smith immediately implemented changes that would modernize the dental practice and shift its focus to dental health as a component of overall health.
She expanded its services to include new procedures such as tooth sealants, dental implants, oral cancer screenings and Invisalign aligners.
At the time of purchase, Smith and her six employees worked out of a 2,200-square-foot facility and generated annual revenue of $380,000.
In her first year of ownership, revenue increased by 44 percent. With guidance from SBA’s SCORE and a $2.5 million SBA 504 Loan, Smith grew the business to 31 employees who provide service from three locations and generate $3.9 million in revenue.
To attract new customers and remain competitive, she began offering free second opinions, allowing her to meet new patients.
Over the last eight years, Smith also has worked to give back to the community. She has traveled to Honduras to provide free dental care to hundreds of Hondurans who lived in mountain regions and lacked access to dental care.
Over a 10-day period, Smith performed approximately 250 tooth extractions.
Back home in Missouri, she holds “Free Dental Days” for a pregnancy assistance center, low-income veterans and others in need.
People have driven from as far away as Iowa to receive free care from Washington Smiles. To date, she has donated more than $307,000 in free dental services to those less fortunate.