After attending medical school in Dallas at UT Southwestern, Dr. Christopher Thompson believed the Dallas-Fort Worth market was ripe to start a business in his specialty. Knowing the population to be around 7.5 million, with 14 to 15 percent having allergies, Thompson correctly predicted a growing need for allergy and sinus centers here. In 2012, Thompson opened the first Texan Allergy and Sinus Center in Austin, and has since expanded all over Texas, with the highest concentration of the centers in DFW. I spoke with Thompson to discuss Texan Allergy’s rapid growth in North Texas, its innovative medical services like sublingual therapy, and future plans that may include relocating the company’s headquarters to Dallas.
What is your presence in DFW currently?
“Well, we’re about to open our 20th office, and we employ 150 people. Of those, 10 are in DFW: Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Grapevine, Arlington, Flower Mound, Keller, and Rockwall.”
I saw a study saying Dallas is one of the worst cities for allergies. Is that true?
“Yep. In most cities, there’s a break from November to April because there’s no wind or anything blowing in the air. But in Dallas, there’s cedar pollen growing in the hill country that blows down in December … and because the winter is so short, trees pollinate in February. Moreover, there’s a lot of mold caused by humidity from rain or the temperature changes that frequent Dallas. So these three things create a terrible trio.”
How many people have you treated here recently?
“In Texas, Texan Allergy performed 7,104 allergy tests in 2016 compared to 2,931 in 2015. We also performed 345 in-office procedures in 2016 compared to 127 in 2015. Our revenue has increased about 55 to 60 percent since we opened our first Grapevine location in September 2015.”
One of the reasons your company is well known is because of sublingual therapy. Can you explain that?
“The science isn’t new. But about five years ago I saw that sublingual therapy was becoming more realistic and gained enough support that it was legitimate enough to endorse and use it. My CEO and I started brainstorming and felt it was the right time and it was what patients wanted to conveniently treat allergies.
“Instead of doing immunotherapy, where you take a shot every week for four years until you build the tolerance against what you’re allergic to, sublingual therapy is just taking drops under the tongue. We make the serum in small doses and it is put into a solution that can be dropped under the tongue. The mouth absorbs it directly into the tissues, which is how you can start building immunity.”
What are possible reactions to this treatment?
“The first few doses, can cause tingling around the mouth, but you don’t see the dangerous reactions you can with immunotherapy shots. It’s also convenient because you just take a three drops a day. Treatment is normally three to five years.”
To what do you attribute your rapid success? Is it the choice of procedures Texan Allergy provides, or the markets you’re in?
“In addition to allergy services, we offer sinus treatment. We found that because you don’t have to go to separate offices as you regularly would for these issues, I feel like patients get a better patient experience since we treat anything [to do] both allergies and sinus. I think that’s why we’re growing so fast—because we’re able to treat both these issues in one center.”
How are your future plans for the company looking?
“We’ve managed to figure out the need and accommodation for Austin. But Dallas has been a roller-coaster for us. We initially thought two offices were enough, but we are blown away how under-covered we were. We’re planning on expanding further north toward Central Expressway, too, because Dallas’ massive population is creating more demand. Dallas will definitely be the bulk of Texan Allergy, and we may end up moving our headquarters there.”