In August 2019, EO Austin member Dr. Max Kerr was the recipient of the Patsy Woods Martin BIG Giver Award in Austin, Texas. He was nominated for his considerable commitment to giving back to the community through dentistry as well as his generous support for the Capital Area Dental Foundation. Dr. Kerr is well-known for donating his talents to give free dental care to uninsured or low-income people.
Dr. Kerr’s commitment to giving back goes way back. After receiving his general dentistry degree in 2007, he spent five years providing dental care for underserved children in Texas and New Mexico.
In May 2013, he opened his own dental practice, Vista Ridge Family Dentistry. Today, Dr. Kerr also runs a dental sleep medicine clinic called Sleep Better Austin. He remains committed to treating his patients to the highest standards, helping them live long and productive lives.
“Helping has always been in my DNA, but I recently have become more aware of my ability to leverage my influence as an entrepreneur and make larger more impactful positive change,” Dr. Kerr says.
Recently, we had the opportunity to talk with him about his philanthropic pursuits and his experiences as an EO member.
You’re on the record as saying that one of your life’s missions is to positively impact the health of over 1 million people. How did you arrive at this mission? And how are you making it happen?
It actually came to me when I was reviewing our big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) for my sleep apnea treatment business, Sleep Better Austin. I realized that I needed my own BHAG. One million sounded like a nice round number, and I am always up for a challenge.
I realize I will not be able to see 1 million patients all on my own, so my focus is on building sustainable, scalable businesses that value mentorship, employee growth and market expansion. I want to grow our business by building the knowledge base of our personnel so they can impact the health of our patients for me. Hopefully, with the growth of the business, revenue will follow.
I plan to continue to use a portion of our revenue for charitable purposes. I have also started a learning platform that will allow me to teach my successes to other, like-minded professionals so they can, in turn, positively impact the lives around them.
Your staff is also involved in charity work. What is the ROI of encouraging employees to engage in the community?
I started very tenuously adding philanthropic work to our schedule. I would pay my team to do charitable work at first, but the feeling of doing something positive just wasn’t there. It seemed like just another day to my team.
I then began to have my team choose what they wanted to give to, as well as volunteering on the days that we would be providing charitable work. I really got buy-in then. Now it has become part of how we do business. I know the team is extremely proud to be a part of it.
How did you come to join EO?
I was looking for a group of entrepreneurs who would encourage me and hold me accountable. With this in mind, I asked [EO Austin member and Bixby Zane founder] Jason Crawford to join me in having a cup of coffee. He immediately suggested EO. The rest is history.
Has your EO membership influenced your charitable mindset?
It has in that I look at our chapter and see our amazing members and all the amazing work that they do—both commercial and charitable. Seeing all this keeps me “upping my game” for sure.
Can you share a particular experience that helps drive you forward? What inspires you to continue this work?
Two patients come to mind. One is a woman who was a victim of domestic violence. Her daughter’s boyfriend bound and gagged her. She would not let anyone get close to her mouth because her body associated anything near her mouth with that trauma. Little by little, we have been able to treat her, help her feel safe, help her believe in her own self-worth and give her a beautiful smile.
The second is a young lady who was a victim of human trafficking. We were able to bring this young woman in to treat her teeth, and partner with an orthodontist to give her a straight beautiful smile. She remarked to me that she was going to start a speaking career to speak against all the things that happened to her and to give hope to people who are in horrible situations.
Needless to say, I start bawling every time I think of how courageous these two women are and how blessed I am to be able to serve them.