From the September 2000 issue of Entrepreneur

If you were to visit Paragraphics Corporation, a graphic arts business opportunity in Orem, Utah, the piercing shriek of dentist drills might send you running for the exit. President and CEO Lew Jensen understands it would be hard to swallow the idea that works of art, not root canals, were being performed in the back studio area-considering he practiced dentistry for 15 years, and recognizes the anxiety drills can create. "I had to hurt 30 people a day to make a living and it got old," he says. "I had to [find] something to outperform my dental business [financially]."

Jensen, 55, had an epiphany during a family Easter egg contest, where contestants submitted decorative eggs for judging. After getting grief from his children for losing to a local teenager, he examined the winning egg and believed that, by using his dental drill, the design could be permanently engraved onto the egg. "My absolute first thought was to one-up this kid," he says. Little did he know his motivation would lead to an engraving business that has lasted since 1983.

Jensen continued to tinker with his unique form of art. He took his work to events held in Los Angeles, making thousands of dollars in what he defines as "just a weekend of play." Eventually, the good doctor only practiced dentistry only one or two days each week.

To increase efficiency, Jensen invented the first straight, high-speed dental drill in 1979. Currently the fastest rotary instrument in the world, Jensen's drill runs at just under 500,000 RPM. Four years after his creation, he began Paragraphics, which has spawned 15,000 business opportunities since its inception.

Paragraphics has grossed over $45 million in sales and expects to add another $2.5 million this year. Start-up costs range between $770 and $3,100.


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