meet: Family and Cosmetic Dentistry Inc.:

Let your conscience be your guide in business, dentist says

Dr. Rex Liu talks to a patient at the end of a check-up. Liu, a Chaparral High graduate, benefited from the Golden Nugget Scholarship.

Name: Dr. Rex Liu

Company: Family and Cosmetic Dentistry Inc.

Title: Owner and president

What’s new with your company?

We were just awarded Best Business of the Year 2012, Woman or Minority Owned, by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. I’m best remembered there as the only person whose acceptance speech included performing a singing telegram.

Since then, our office performed free dental screenings and exams at the Clark County Teachers Health Fair. The theme this year was “Hollywood,” and we were the booth with the staff dressed up like Hollywood celebrities. We had Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Tina Turner, and I was dressed like Elvis.

I have also been busy as co-chairman of the Chaparral High School Class of 1983 30-year reunion. The date is set for Oct. 11 and 12. It is easy to remember as 10-11-12-13. So, if you are an alumnus, please contact me to get the details!

What is the best business advice you have received, and whom did it come from?

The best advice I ever received was from my mother who told me that God gave me a conscience so that I would know what is right and wrong. I’ve used that advice in my business as the moral compass and value system to make decisions. I believe that if you base your decisions on what is right and good, the rest will follow.

What challenges do you face doing business here?

The main challenge is to help motivate our patients and our community to take better care of their dental health, which affects their overall health. It is so important that you have a dental exam and cleaning every six months so that we can prevent problems from becoming too costly to fix. The same challenge exists in health care in general. So many people are delaying their health until they have an emergency. Unfortunately, waiting until then ends up costing more time, money and may make treatment impossible.

What’s the best part about living in Las Vegas?

I love my patients! It’s through them that I get a real feel for the “pulse” of the community. They are the reason why all of us here love what we do. It’s very gratifying to change someone’s life for the better by giving them a new smile, getting them out of pain or helping them with another health-related issue. I consider all of them part of our extended family.

If you could change one thing about Las Vegas, what would it be?

I want more emphasis on education, and I would like all children to graduate high school.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished reading “Motivation” by Daniel Pink. It basically says that the best motivation for employees (and even monkeys) is self-motivation. The joy and pleasure of what you do is more important than the reward.

I’m currently reading “Onward” by Howard Schultz. It describes the journey of Starbucks, from a small company to being overbuilt, and how it has repositioned itself after the economic downturn. As they grew and became further removed from their original mission statement and message, the brand became diluted.

Blackberry, iPhone or Android?

You will be horrified to know that I have a flip phone, or what I affectionately call my “dumb” phone. I refuse to be tethered to my phone. The time and attention I give to anyone is one-on-one. You will not be competing with me and the need for me to text, email, Facebook, surf the Internet or play a game. I do have a portable electronic device, but it isn’t my phone.

Describe your management style.

Lead by example and provide incentives so that your staff is self-motivated. It is easier to lead my 11 employees when they feel like this business is their business. They all have a say in what happens here and they all have extraordinary talents, and their tasks have to maximize them.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I would like to mentor dentists and other businesspeople. My business has launched the careers of over a dozen dentists locally for over 20 years. I would like to continue to spend time doing charity work and help keep Las Vegas thriving and growing.

Whom do you admire and why?

When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to meet Steve and Elaine Wynn. Steve Wynn is a smart businessman who envisioned a better Las Vegas and really brought world-class style and presence here. They both believed in furthering education and sponsored the Golden Nugget Scholarship, which helped me get to dental school. I will always be grateful that Elaine changed the terms of the scholarship for me, which enabled me to use it to go to USC Dental School.

What is your dream job, outside of your current field?

I would love to have my own talk show or lounge act. It’s Vegas right? Anything is possible!

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Anyone who does anything to abuse or hurt children. I have experienced firsthand what happens to children when they are exposed to abuse and neglect. I was removed from my home when I was 8 years old and raised in the foster care system for several years.

What is something that people might not know about you?

Most people would be surprised to know that currently I have 15 dogs. Over the past 20 years, I have also rescued, adopted and placed over a dozen dogs and recently adopted two dogs whose owners could no longer keep them.