Dentist looks for a new beginning in McLouth
Story and photo by Dennis Sharkey
The McLouth Dental Clinic reopened its doors on Monday with a new look and a new leader.
Dentist Grant Larkin has taken over the business that has been closed for about a month.
The familiar location is on the south side of K-16 Highway on the east side of town. The outside retains its weathered brick and tall columns but local construction workers hurried last week to put the final touches on a new floor and fresh coat of paint for the inside.
Larkin is a native of Wichita but has spent the last 23 years operating a dental clinic in Garden City.
He has been married to his wife, Kathy, for nearly 30 years and the couple have four sons: Jeff, 28, Tom 25, Brian 22, and Andy, 19.
The two met while undergraduates at the University of Kansas and moving back to Lawrence was always in the retirement plans for the Larkins.
Earlier this year an opportunity presented itself to Larkin that he could not pass up.
After spending 23 years in Garden City Larkin had become rooted in the community. Attracting dentists to western Kansas is a challenge but a young dentist approached Larkin about joining his business. He had already brought in another younger dentist and Larkin’s idea of moving back to the area began to take shape.
“I couldn’t pass him up,” he said. “It’s hard to attract dentists to rural areas.
“It just escalated our exit process,” he added. “It was a true blessing.”
Larkin began looking for opportunities in all of the areas outside of Lawrence. He said there are enough dentist in the city and his personality fits a rural setting.
“I’ve always been a rural dentist,” he said. “That’s why I picked here.
“I looked at all the little towns around and I saw the potential in McLouth,” he added.
He looked everywhere from Tonganoxie to Baldwin but was given a tip by his friend Dr. Marvin Heinbach, who operates a clinic in Lawrence.
Although Larkin lives in Lawrence he wants his dental practice to be part of the community.
“I want to get involved in this town,” he said. “I want to be part of this town. I don’t want to come here and do dentistry and then go home.”
Larkin said pediatric dentistry is about 50 percent of his practice. He said he prides himself on getting to know his patients and making them feel comfortable while at his office.
“I want to grow this practice to where kids feel dentistry can be comfortable and not frightening,” he said.
Larkin retained all of the staff from the previous clinic. He said he senses nothing but excitement from his new employees.
“I inherited a wonderful staff,” he said. “They’re fired up.”
Larkin is making the office look more like Bulldog country than a dentist office. He said getting rooted into McLouth will be a top priority for him and his wife.
“I want to buy stuff from here,” he said. “I want to use people from here. You’ve got to support your own town.”
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