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Western Dental Names Lawyer as New CEO

November 12, 1998|BARBARA MARSH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Western Dental Services Inc. said Wednesday it named a new chief executive following the death in September of founder Dr. Robert F. Beauchamp, who was best known as the "credit dentist."

The family-owned Garden Grove company, which bills itself as the nation's largest dental HMO, said it hired Samuel H. Gruenbaum, a lawyer and public accountant, as its new CEO.

Gruenbaum, 46, represented the company last year in its $1.7-million settlement of state charges that it provided "shoddy, dangerous" medical care through its chain of more than 100 dental clinics.

Gruenbaum replaced the company's former chief executive, Robert C. Schur, who resigned earlier this moth.

"Dr. Beauchamp's death forced the family to look very closely at the company and ask themselves where they want the company going in the future," said Gruenbaum. "They hope I'll lead the company by taking its strengths, changing things that need change, and entering the 21st century as one of the most significant managed-care companies in America."

Gruenbaum, a former partner of San Francisco-based law firm Morrison & Foerster, has represented Western Dental for the last three years. He also led its negotiations with government regulators since the settlement. He said the company continues to work with regulators in efforts to met terms of its settlement.

Western Dental, which is owned by Beauchamp's five children and his widow, agreed to take more than 20 actions to improve oversight and management of its businesses. The state also appointed an independent monitor to evaluate its compliance with the plan.

The settlement allowed the Beauchamp family to remain in control. State regulators couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

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