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iConnect News


The value of hope: Immigrant couple pays it forward

June 29, 2011
Posted In: Headlines, Profiles

Assen and Dani Dobrikov arrived from Sofia, Bulgaria, in typical immigrant fashion. In 1990, the young Bulgarian couple had little money, no relatives, and just plain hope as they started their lives in the United States. With $1,300 in his pocket and a diploma in dental technology, Assen landed in Phoenix. In two weeks, $750 went for a car, and related expenses took the rest. “No English. No money,” Assen says, recalling his initial experiences. Soon after his arrival, he started working for laboratories creating partial dentures in a garage. The Latin terminology he learned at the Dental Technology College in Bulgaria helped him understand dental prescriptions despite his poor English speaking skills. With the help of Dani, Assen soon ventured on his own and began taking laboratory service orders from West Valley dentists. “Most people typically start from a garage, but we didn’t have one. So, we started from our laundry room instead and turned it into a molding and casting department,” he says. “Dani and I worked for about 20 to 22 hours a day, seven days a week. For two-and-a-half years, we worked day and night. We slept maybe around six hours during weekends and big holidays,” he says. “It was crazy, but we survived and soon we had good people join us.” By 1996, the Dobrikovs moved out of the house and set up office in a rented space in Phoenix. Two-and-a-half years later, they moved to Tempe, where they purchased their first office. In three years, they outgrew that space and went on to build their current 18,000 square foot dental laboratory, Dani Dental Studio, also in Tempe. “We never planned to do something like this – ever,” Assen says. “It happened by accident and became successful, and at one time we were growing at 15 to 22 percent annually.” Assen and Dani believe one reason for their success is that they want to provide service and quality above their clients’ expectations. On average, they attend more than 100 continuing education hours annually, mostly with doctors, to improve their skills and customer service skills in this highly specialized area. Over the years, the Dobrikovs wanted to give back, and the couple actively supports ATSU’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health.   “We love the school’s philosophy of serving people in need and giving a quality education to students,” Assen says. “ASDOH is in our backyard; we work together, and it is one of the best schools in the country. I know our contribution will go in the right direction.” Another reason for the Dobrikovs’ generosity is based on their experience as immigrants. “People are willing to share and help you, and this is the best thing about America compared to Europe. And that is part of the reason we want to help — because we have been helped by so many people.” Today, the Dobrikovs take great pride in their work and say their greatest reward is in making people smile. “Money comes and goes, but making somebody happy is the biggest, most powerful feeling that you can have – at least for us.”

One response to “The value of hope: Immigrant couple pays it forward”

  1. Such a good story. A couple who wants to be successful all did the hard work and finally it paid off and look at them now? Very successful.

  2. Such a good story. A couple who wants to be successful all did the hard work and finally it paid off and look at them now? Very successful.

  3. Such a good story. A couple who wants to be successful all did the hard work and finally it paid off and look at them now? Very successful.

  4. Such a good story. A couple who wants to be successful all did the hard work and finally it paid off and look at them now? Very successful.

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