Dental, Health

Chris & Angie Canales Built A Successful Business While Keeping Small Town Values

If you live in Gardendale or spend some time here, you will get a feel for the local businesses that mirror the values and small town feel of the community. If you spend a little time with two prominent doctors, husband and wife, who have a great office across the street from Gardendale High School, it wouldn’t take long for you to understand how they have built such a successful practice in Gardendale.

It’s not just the skill they have as orthodontists, it’s the small town values and caring for Gardendale and the community that shines through.

GH: Tell our readers about your business. How did it begin and why did you decide to get into your field?

Angie Canales:  Canales Orthodontics designs and creates beautiful custom smiles using modern orthodontic treatment methods and technology. My husband and I are both board-certified orthodontists, and we have an outstanding team we are fortunate to work alongside every day. Our practice strives to be that little bit of “extra” and go above and beyond for our patients. From the warm friendly greeting on the first phone call to the finished smile, we desire to serve our patients and their families to the absolute best of our ability.

Our business began in 2013. This was a very busy year for us! We married in April 2013. I finished my residency program in Charleston, SC at the end of June 2013 and we finally moved into the same town (Birmingham) after being long distance 5 years. And in the Fall of 2013, we opened a practice together. Needless to say, our first year of marriage was not typical. We had a lot on our plates getting the practice started, but I don’t regret anything! We are partners through and through, and the challenges we’ve faced together have only made our marriage stronger.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work for my family dentist as a dental assistant a couple summers during my college years. This experience solidified my decision to pursue dental school. I was particularly drawn to the combination of both art & science that dentistry offers. As a specialty of dentistry, orthodontics offers lots of variety in the types of procedures that are performed. This makes every day simultaneously unique and fun.

I also enjoy working with patients in a variety of age groups. We treat children as early as 7 years old to adults in their later years. And no two orthodontic cases are the same; each presents with its own unique combination of challenges. We break it all down, figure out the best ways to address each concern, and then put it all back together in the right sequence; a one-of-a kind recipe for success that we call a ‘treatment plan.’ In orthodontics you are often only limited by your imagination – it’s a lot of fun!

Chris Canales:  I’ve always found fulfillment in serving others. It’s probably a combination of how I was raised, my DNA, and my Faith. I am driven by a sense of purpose, to try to inspire everything I do with meaning. So, for example, I have really enjoyed my 30-plus years in the Navy and find joy in volunteering at church events. Thus my desire to help others is what initially drew me to dentistry. It doesn’t hurt that I love math, physics, and the challenge of solving complex orthodontic cases.

Now, almost a decade into being an orthodontist, I find satisfaction not only in what we do but how we care for those in our practice. Our “business” is as much the friendships we form with our patients as it is the smiles we engineer. The most fulfilling highlights of my career happen each time a patient sees his/her beautiful smile for the first time at the end of treatment. I get excited just being there at that moment.

Photo courtesy of Canales.

GH: Why did you choose Gardendale as the place for your business?

Chris Canales: Gardendale provides an “at home” feeling much like the small town I grew up in. That sense of community really mattered to me when choosing our location, and still does to this day. Add to that Gardendale is a perfect size in terms of geography and population for Canales Orthodontics. We have the ability to really make an impact in the lives of our friends and neighbors, and can maintain a personal touch with our patients. And what’s more, the relationships we build are mutually beneficial to our practice and the other small businesses in town. I like the idea of a ‘rising tide lifting all ships.’

Angie Canales: Chris and I met in dental school and knew we eventually wanted to go into practice together. We were equally adamant about living close to both of our families. The Birmingham area was ideal since my family’s in MS and TN, while Chris’s is in north and south AL. We envisioned a family practice in a close-knit community much like the towns where we were raised. Somewhere that our local business could support teachers, schools, sports teams, and community events. When the opportunity to practice in Gardendale came available, and satisfied all those goals, we knew it was meant to be.

GH: What changes have you seen in Gardendale that have affected your business since it began?

Chris Canales: That’s easy. I can’t get over the number of new, local businesses that have opened in Gardendale since we arrived. Continued growth is exciting, and all the new construction throughout Gardendale indicates that our community’s future is bright.

Angie Canales: Since we’ve been practicing in Gardendale, several big businesses have come to town. Publix, TJ Maxx, Starbucks, and ACE Hardware come to mind. Recently, UAB Medicine established a primary and specialty care facility. Existing small, locally owned businesses like ours have continued to re-invest in their own businesses to keep up. My hope is that this influx of new businesses and new job opportunities will allow everyone to live their best lives here in Gardendale for years and decades to come. Not only would it keep tax revenue here in town, but so, too, will doing so yield community improvements that attract new, wonderful families to join our Gardendale ‘family.’

GH: Are there any changes you would like to see in Gardendale that would help your business grow?

Chris Canales: Not a change to Gardendale itself, per se, but a continued commitment to welcoming new families and adding new businesses to the community. I’m back to my ‘rising tide that lifts all ships’ metaphor. As the community grows, so grows our patient base and the number of lives that we can enrich. Most people would probably say the same; but our success is directly tied to everyone else’s that lives and works here. We’re hoping to grow along with this wonderful city.

Angie Canales: I absolutely agree with Chris’s point. Any future changes that are focused on the best interests of the families in Gardendale will be of mutual benefit to our Canales Orthodontics. The heart and soul of this community is its people. It’s for this reason that we invest philanthropically in the support of our schools, educators, youth sports, first responders, and other locally-owned small businesses. We are committed to the community and will continue to demonstrate our support by helping Gardendale remain a wonderful place to live and work.

GH: Finally, why do you believe your business has been so successful, and what would you like prospective customers to know about why they should buy from a local business like yours?

Chris Canales: Can I use the ‘rising tide’ metaphor a third time (laughing)? Honestly, and from a father’s standpoint, I want to know that the dental and healthcare providers I choose for my child are not only the best around, but also that they are dedicated to the patient, not just this issue that has led him/her to the appointment. Hopefully that makes sense?

Angie and I talk about this, our ‘treatment philosophy,’ all the time. At its core is our belief that extraordinary orthodontic results are as much a factor of the patient’s experience in our care as the systems we use to create great smiles. This joyful experience requires caring for the person, not just their teeth, jaws, and gums. When they have a say in the treatment plan, they guarantee their own successful outcome.

Being local and connected makes the ‘treatment experience’ almost automatic. They know us personally, even if not by name, by their friends we’ve treated, the logo on the back of their uniform, or the playbill ad when we sponsored the school play. It makes a difference.

Angie Canales: And I’m going to ‘toot our own horns.’ Chris and I went to two of the top orthodontic residencies in the world. And we’re really, really good at what we do. He’s an amazing orthodontist.

Chris Canales: Angie is an exceptional orthodontist.

Angie Canales: “Thanks, honey!  So at the heart of the answer to your question is ‘trust.’ Along the lines of Chris’s response, in choosing a provider I have to trust that he/she is fantastic at their craft. That’s really hard to know in some aspects of healthcare, but in orthodontics it’s pretty easy. Look at the smiles of the people they’ve treated. Not just straight teeth, but beautiful smiles. And then ask that patient if they enjoyed their time in treatment. Our goal is to hit both those points out of the park.

That’s the key to our success, in my humble opinion. Great smiles, great experiences, and caring for the people we treat, and the whole community, just as much as taking care of their bite issues. In the end, it’s all about relationships and service to others.

Chris Canales: That’s what I wanted to say too. You beat me to it.

*This story originally appeared in The North Jefferson Herald.