Ottawa-based dentistry firm gets funding injection to fuel cross-Canada expansion

Dentist pic
Dr. Mark McCullough (left) is the co-founder of Ottawa-based MCA Dental Group. Photo courtesy MCA Dental Group

An Ottawa-based dental service provider is aiming to accelerate its ambitious cross-Canada expansion bid after landing a new funding round from domestic and international investors. 

MCA Dental Group said Tuesday it’s received a “significant” injection of capital from Montreal’s Persistence Capital Partners and DWS Group, an investment firm based in Frankfurt. It’s PCP’s third investment in the local company.

Additional details about the transaction were not disclosed.

MCA vice-president of marketing Mila Olumogba said the fresh capital will help finance the company’s aggressive growth strategy as it strives to double its monthly revenues by the end of the year.

“The objective is to increase our national footprint,” she said.

MCA was founded in 2017 by Ottawa dentist Mark McCullough and his longtime friend Ken Craig, a well-known local businessman who also serves as president of seniors’ housing developer Sussex Retirement Living and was previously president of Altaview Financial Group.

The firm has expanded rapidly since its launch and now owns and operates 13 dental clinics in Ottawa along with three in Gatineau, three in southwestern Ontario and one in Laval. MCA employs about 250 people.

"Ask any dentist – when they go through dentistry school, none of them are taught how to actually run a business."

The company’s value proposition is simple: it handles day-to-day operational tasks such as managing a clinic’s financial, HR and marketing responsibilities, taking that burden off the shoulders of practitioners themselves and freeing them up to do what they do best: practise dentistry.

“Ask any dentist – when they go through dentistry school, none of them are taught how to actually run a business,” explains Olumogba. “They open their practice and they get bogged down in the day-to-day (demands) of managing clinics, both from an HR standpoint and a financial standpoint.”

Olumogba says MCA really proved its worth during the pandemic, when it used its organizational and financial clout to secure a steady supply of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves when such products were often hard to come by for smaller operations.

“Many (independent) clinics weren’t able to source (PPE), but when you’ve got a large group that’s sourcing for multiple clinics at a time, it was a lot easier,” she says. “I think the pandemic really highlighted for a lot of dentists that the management burdens that they’re facing can be significantly (reduced) when you have a good partner.” 

The company’s business relationship with dentists varies depending on the situation, Olumogba explains. While some practitioners opt to sell their clinics outright to MCA and retire, others choose to partner with the firm and take an ownership stake and some decide to stay on as employees.

MCA prefers to acquire clinics in geographic clusters whenever possible to allow it to consolidate management in one central location and offer patients multiple service options in a particular city or region. 

Olumogba says the approach has allowed the company to gain a “stronghold” in the markets it serves, adding MCA is now eyeing several locations in Western Canada as it looks to spread its model from coast to coast.

“It’s really been working for us, and it’s what’s allowing us to have such rapid growth,” she says.