Gresham Cosmetic Laser Center
In July 2005, Dr. Peter and Geri Bernier opened the doors of The Gresham Cosmetic Laser Center at the Gresham Station. Many thought, “Why would a successful nurse for over 30 years and a Board Certified Family Practitioner with a 21 year practice decide to branch out and start their own business?” As it turns out, Dr. Bernier had been doing a considerable amount of research over the years trying to find out how to help patients who were not responsive to traditional medical treatment of dermatologic conditions and patients who could not handle the side effects of some traditional treatments. Dr. Bernier became impressed with the ability of lasers to treat a wide variety of skin and vascular conditions and decided this would be an excellent option for people who have issues with traditional treatments.
In an effort to be able to serve his clients more fully, the dynamic husband and wife team decided to open the laser center. Never having run such a business, they started calling around, looking for small business information. They had to figure out everything on their own: what to do first, what to do second, how to get permits and licenses, how to market the business. It seems that they found “good information” and made many “right decisions”. They found a location that provides excellent growth potential. They created a website. As with most entrepreneurs, they invested everything they had and kept their “day jobs” to pay their personal bills. They hired a medical esthetician who could perform laser activities while Dr. Bernier worked his shifts. Although start-up businesses typically run at a loss for the first 3 to 5 years they are in business, the Gresham Laser Center, after being in business only 5 months, they bring in enough money to pay all of their business related bills. The business can only grow from here!
When asked what they would have done differently if they had to do it all over again, the Berniers said, “If we had known about the MHCC Small Business Development Center before we opened our doors, we would have gone there first! Once we found out about the SBDC, we called the office and set up an appointment with Tom Chow, one of the counselors at the SBDC. He has been very helpful to us, answering all of our questions about starting a business. It has saved us hours of work. He helped us learn how to negotiate to get the best credit card rates. He looked over some of our documents and showed us what to watch out for in them. He helped explain the differences between the various types of business formation.”
The Berniers continue to be excited about owning and operating the Gresham Laser Center. They love the excitement of the unknown, the need to think out of the box and the emotional high of success. Their goal in five years is to grow so large that they will need a bigger space and to have exuberantly happy clients.
The Gresham Laser Center is located at 831 NW Council Drive, Suite 101, on the corner of Burnside and Civic in the Gresham Plaza Medical Plaza, and online at www.greshamlaser.com.