Dr. Edwin Smith: From Ivy League Columbia University to His Father’s (Dr. Pierre-Michel Smith) Dental Practice

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Dr. Edwin Smith photo by @spexphoto
Dr. Edwin Smith photo by @spexphoto

First published in SPRING 2016 “TOP 10 HAITIAN Business Leaders in South Florida” edition. 

By Sarah Brutus

Q: Where are you from?

A: I was born in Montreal, but I have lived in Miami practically all my life.

Q: What schools did you attend?

A: I went to Chamanade Madonna for high school. I then went to Florida International University for undergrad. I then went up to Columbia University for dental school.

Q: Did you always want to be a dentist?

A: I’ve always been around the practice. My dad is a dentist, and I used to spend a lot of time in his office growing up. It was always something I was familiar with. I liked the idea of service and healthcare, so why not?

Q: What challenges have you faced in your schooling and career?

A: Well, anyone can tell you that dental school is pretty tough. But you get through it and move on.

Q: How did you get started with your practice after completing school?

A: After I graduated, I had a couple of opportunities lined up. I was thinking I would come back to Miami and work with my family and give back to my community for a little bit, then go back up north. I realized that it was a lot more fulfilling, because I’m treating people from my home town. I rented a space from my dad, and everything started to grow really rapidly.

Dr. Edwin Smith photo by @spexphoto
Dr. Edwin Smith photo by @spexphoto

“I realized that it was a lot more fulfilling, because I’m treating people from my home town.”

Q: How did you start getting clients?

A: First we started with a few walk-ins. Usually people with emergencies. Then we had people who liked us and would come back and refer others to us as well. At the same time, I think whenever people are trying to find success in something, basically you have to think to yourself, ‘What problems can I help solve in this area?’ It can be in your community or work. We noticed that there was a large segment of the community that wasn’t receiving care. We found ways to provide them care and get them access to care. We are actually providing care to people who really need it and not just making up treatments. From there we started pushing heavily and advertising hard to grow our little niche. To get the database of clients that we have usually takes about ten years, but it has taken us two-and-a-half years. We’re getting ready to open a second office.

Q: Why do you think you took less time than others to grow your business?

A: I think it’s because we focused on people who need access to care, and we found ways to get them access to care. We started providing transportation for those who needed it. We were able to fulfill that need, and it has made a tremendous difference for our patients. You also have to be relentless at it. You have to put in the work. Early on, we were easily working 60 hours a week.

Q: What advice would you give a young person?

A: Find something that is needed. Find something that is not being done, and grow from there. Think big picture. Think, ‘What can I do to solve a problem in the community?’ Once you do find that answer, you will need to be a hard worker and have some skills. The key is that you should always be learning. Apply your skills and work really hard.

“The key is that you should always be learning. Apply your skills and work really hard.”

Q: What is your favorite food?

A: Anything my wife cooks. Probably lasagna. It’s a great go-to.

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