Last June, golden spades broke ground in a vacant lot on Forum Katy Parkway. Pictures were taken, a speech was given, and bottles of champagne were popped.
This June, the lot on Forum Katy, and the new medical building constructed there, will become the permanent home of Restoration Eye Care. At the groundbreaking ceremony last year, Dr. Tim McGarity wore a navy blue blazer and a golden hardhat. He smiled for pictures and wielded giant scissors, a bulkier tool than the microscopically precise lasers he uses to manipulate corneas and remove cataracts. Since taking over Restoration in 2011, McGarity has fostered growth in his business and vision in his patients. In June, he will have a cutting-edge new building to match his ambition, and he continues to see a bright future for Restoration Eye Care.
The most important sense
McGarity comes across as more of a cool bartender than a surgeon; on a recent Friday, his uniform consisted of a gray T-shirt and jeans. He speaks with a gravelly accent that he brought with him from Arkansas, where he earned his medical and undergraduate degrees (the latter in microbiology, with honors).
Fate led McGarity to ophthalmology on a Saturday during his third year of medical school at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. McGarity reluctantly attended a lecture hosted by the school’s relatively small ophthalmology department. By the end of the session, he was hooked.
“I left, and I thought, ‘That’s awesome!’” McGarity says. “I could do surgery on somebody’s vision, their most important sense, and totally change that person’s life in a matter of minutes. Who wouldn’t want to do that? I thought that was the coolest thing in the world.”
McGarity was accepted to ophthalmology residency at the University of Missouri, which brought him and his family to Columbia. After his residency, McGarity stayed on as an assistant professor in clinical ophthalmology, training students at University Hospital and Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital, where McGarity still volunteers.
In 2011, private practice tapped him on the shoulder: Local ophthalmologist Dr. H. Kell Yang recruited McGarity to take over his clinic.
McGarity jumped at the opportunity, but the transition came with challenges. “As a small-business owner and a private physician, its double stress,” he says. “It took several months to get to the point where I felt comfortable owning my own practice. I learned a lot from Dr. Yang early on. He told me the way to be successful is to put good people around you and trust them.”
A bad market compounded the learning curve, as Lasik’s popularity had been declining since the onset of the recession. The challenges led McGarity to quickly adopt new, safe technology to attract patients, and Restoration became the first practice in the area to offer blade-free eye surgery, using a system called iLASIK.
“Our two biggest competitors are fear and the pocketbook,” McGarity says. “And that’s potentially something that kept that person from coming to us for years.”
Chris Danforth, marketing director at Restoration, wasn’t sure where to begin describing the past few years. “Yeah… a lot of growth,” he says, smiling. “We’ve grown incredible amounts, year after year, since Dr. McGarity has been here. We’ve been to the point where we’re constrained just by the physical walls with the amount of patients coming in and out.”
Up until 2014, the practice was just known as Timothy D. McGarity, M.D. At the beginning of last year, the name was updated to Restoration Eye Care: a new brand to reflect the company’s purpose.
When Restoration moves into its new building in June, a year after the groundbreaking ceremony, the business will be taking a big step toward future expansion. Danforth, almost reflexively, comments on the future with a vision metaphor.
“You can’t be myopic about any of this,” he says. “The second you have any short-term vision, you’re dead in the water.”
The new building reflects McGarity’s meticulous dedication to his business. “This is my life, and this is my family,” he says. “Everyone in my family, everyone that I employ, all of my patients, they all depend on this place being successful. There’s no option other than pure dedication.”