Made in Essex: Spouse team leads chiropractic company

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Husband and wife team Lee and Kerry Wiebe are pictured at their practice, Performance Chiropractic. (Photo by Cindy Chittenden)

Husband and wife team Kerry and Lee Wiebe heal their patients one adjustment at a time at the Pearl St. office of their practice, Performance Chiropractic.

In 2001, the Wiebes completed the doctor of chiropractic program at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. After dinner with friends, they were watching an A&E television special on the Top 10 places to live. No. 1 that year was Burlington, and that made the Wiebes’ choice to relocate easy.

“We knew we wanted to be somewhere where we could selfishly do the stuff we wanted to do and not be in a city, but have access to one,” Lee said. “We are big skiers, Kerry played hockey and was part of a rugby club. There was a rugby club here, and we would be close to an airport.”

That same year, the couple relocated to Essex, purchased a home and opened Performance Chiropractic in a commercial rental space next to Mimmo’s Pizzeria.

Since Lee had little-to-no business experience, she sent out a mass email to colleagues who already had established practices, asking them for advice.

“The top advice was to pick a location by a grocery store, by a bank with a dedicated parking lot,” she said. “Decide if you want to live close to where you work, hire an accountant, a payroll company and an insurance agent ahead of time. Before you open the doors, clearly delineate who is responsible for what, down to who takes out the garbage.”

Two years into running their business, Lee gave birth to the couple’s daughter, Erika. She and Kerry built their clientele primarily through word of mouth and volunteer stints at community events.

As Performance grew, so did its need for a larger space. In 2006, the couple bought out an existing chiropractor’s office at what is now the practice’s Pearl St. location.

For 16 years, the couple has adjusted hundreds of patients, ranging from athletes with sports injuries to people with the most common chiropractic issues: neck and back pain. Some clients claim that the chiropractic worked cured other ailments like irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and anxiety, Lee said.

Lee also adjusts animal patients, and twice a week she travels to the Essex Veterinary Center to work on dogs and cats. She recalled one of her favorite success stories.

“You couldn’t touch this dog,” Lee recalled of her patient. “She had all this testing done – X-rays, MRIs – and no one knew what was wrong. It didn’t matter where I touched her, she screamed. When I tried to adjust her neck, it released a giant crack, and she took off running.  I think she had anxiety and PTSD.”

The Wiebes volunteer at the Essex Half Marathon and other races throughout the year. They also support the annual Make-A-Wish Foundation’s All-Star Hockey Classic event at the University of Vermont.

Asked what advice she would give to entrepreneurs, Lee reflected for a moment.

“That’s hard. From a business end, I would say payroll, accounting, that type of stuff. Having that already set up made it so easy,” she said. “Depending on your personality, either live at a great distance or live very close. I think that’s good advice depending on how you feel about being seen and in contact with your clientele. And especially in Vermont, being accessible and authentic is huge. Just be who you are.”