HONOLULU (KHON2) — Like most dentists, Dr. Marlon Parato has had his fair share of one-way conversations.
But as a self-described people person, that’s just fine with him.
“I like being around people and I like interacting with them,” said Parato. “That’s when I decided to become a dentist.”
When he first started practicing, he was interacting in a completely different language.
“I obtained my dental degree in the Philippines and I practiced there for a few years.”
He eventually came to Hawaii in the late 90’s to join his family which was no easy task.
“It was a big challenge for me because I had to start my life all over again,” said Parato. “Being in a different culture, in a different place, speaking a different language.”
He also needed to go back to school for three more years to get the necessary credentials to practice in the United States, all the while offering his services free of charge.
“Giving back to the community is always the right thing to do,” he said.
Parato finally opened his Honolulu practice in 2004. Soon thereafter, he opened a second office in Waipahu, only to experience new, more challenges.
“In dental school, they taught you how to be a doctor but they never told you how to become a businessman. So that’s where I struggled,” he admitted.
He credits a mentor for getting him over the hump but says that the challenges of doing business in Hawaii never ceased.
“One of the challenges I have in my practice right now is the economic pressure–the struggle with the cost of living here in the state,” he revealed. “Because of that, some of my patients had to leave my practice and went to the mainland in search of a better opportunity. I only hope that this trend will one day stop. My patients are not just another person sitting on the dental chair. For us, they are truly part of the Ohana.”
Now, it’s a matter of protecting that ohana by keeping the business clean and safe for everyone amid the pandemic.
“It changed the ball game and added work to our profession.”
Looking forward, he says his secret to success is first, having the right staff that understands your vision. Second, finding a balance between work and family.
“And then third and most important is you got to know your clients,” he shared.
“I’m one of the first patients he had when he took over his practice,” said Steve Hungerford.
We are personal friends, are like he said are like family. Clients become family and I feel that way.”
And so does Dr. Parata.
“There’s a saying that goes, taking time to listen is taking time to care. And you could only start caring when you start listening.”