Cliftons business success marked by decade of growth

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 266 views 

Dr. Missy Clifton is not only a successful physician, she is also a successful business owner.

Since she was honored as a member of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s 2006 Forty Under 40 class, Clifton – owner of Premier Dermatology in Bentonville – has grown the number of patients in the company’s data base from 8,700 to more than 50,000, built a new 20,500-square-foot building in Bentonville, expanded to Bella Vista and plans to open a Fayetteville location later this year.

During the past decade, the clinic’s employees have swelled from 10 to approximately 70, ranging from front desk receptionists to clinical aestheticians, makeup artists and massage therapists, to physician assistants.

“Our goal is to be the number one place to go for treatment, whether it’s medical, cosmetic or surgical,” Clifton said during a recent interview. “One of our strong suits as a practice is we have good managerial people. We have really good people at the right seats on the bus.”

Clifton, 43, launched her own practice in December 2004 after spending a year at Northwest Dermatology Clinic. Today, Premier Dermatology is the parent company to two subsidiaries – Premier Skin Renewal Center and The Spa at Premier.

“Our motto from the beginning has been to be all things under one roof,” Clifton said. “Anything that is wrong with your skin, whether it be skin cancer, acne, warts, a cosmetic problem, laser hair removal … we have always wanted to have every option and have the best technology out there.”

Clifton, originally from Dardanelle, first set the expansion wheels in motion in late 2009 when she purchased 2.5 acres in the Fountain Plaza mixed-use commercial development off Walton Boulevard to build her own facility and relocate from leased space on 28th Street. The building was completed in 2011, and the following year was arguably the most critical to the company’s growth.

In January 2012, Clifton paid an undisclosed amount to acquire the Bella Vista practice of Dr. Kenneth Ubben, who was phasing into retirement. Later that year, Dr. Kattie (pronounced Katy) Allen of the Mayo Clinic joined Premier and is now a co-owner of the company. Allen specializes in Mohs surgery, a type of skin cancer procedure.

“That really kicked us off having Dr. Allen join,” Clifton said. “Having her perspective has been great.”

In Bella Vista, Clifton and Allen bought a vacant bank branch on Riordan Road a year ago, and the building opened in December as Premier’s new location to serve residents in northern Benton County. A grand opening is scheduled Jan. 11.

The company’s next milestone is to open a Fayetteville location, with a target date of May. Clifton said Premier will be in leased space at 1438 E. Augustine Lane, in a building partially occupied by Premier Dental. The two businesses are not affiliated.

“We have always wanted to have a presence [in Fayetteville],” Clifton said. “It will be a smaller scale of pretty much everything we do in Bentonville. We’re not going to start with Mohs surgery there, but it will have spa, full medical and cosmetic services there.”

Clifton said aesthetic and cosmetic procedures are picking up steam in Northwest Arkansas, and the increase in patients concerned about keeping their skin looking younger and heathier has been a factor in Premier’s growth.

“For a long time, if you said the word ‘Botox’, people thought that was taboo,” she explained. “Now, it has become very mainstream. There’s even a lot of guys who recognize they are in a competitive marketplace, and they need to keep looking their best. It’s been interesting to see that change in perspective. It has been very helpful to our business, for sure.” 

Like her business, Clifton’s family has also grown during the last decade. She and her husband, Jeff, welcomed twins (a boy and a girl) in 2008. Their oldest daughter is now 16.

Clifton says reading is a favorite hobby – she meets with a book club once a month – along with playing Bunco with her close friends.