CRYSTAL LAKE – Dr. Dan Strelcheck Sr. openly admits that his retirement a couple of years ago from the chiropractic clinic he founded in Crystal Lake was a bittersweet affair.
He’d love still to be working, he said. But, having reached his late 70s, and having had open heart surgery, it was time to hand over the reins.
At least, he said, he had the satisfaction and comfort of knowing that the clinic, and the patient base he had built since opening in 1958, would rest in great hands – those of his son, Dr. Dan Strelcheck Jr.
Having your offspring follow in your footsteps “is the greatest compliment that a father could have,” Strelcheck Sr. said. “And he is good at what he does.”
The prospect of handing off the clinic to his son was not always a given.
Strelcheck Jr., now 54, spent most of his 20s in the construction business, and then became a manufacturer’s representative in the lighting industry. At 35, he returned to school.
Like his dad, Strelcheck Jr. attended the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa.
What led the elder Strelcheck to his career was pain from a college football injury in which bones in his face were broken. He had developed terrible headaches, and, he said, traditional physicians were unable to provide relief.
Through references from relatives, Strelcheck Sr. found his way to a chiropractor.
“I was examined, X-rayed and treated, and 23 days into treatment, my headaches broke,” he said. “I became a chiropractor because I figured if I could help one person the way I was helped, it would be worth it.”
Strelcheck Jr. also has found fulfillment in bringing relief from pain to others, he said. Chiropractors employ spinal manipulation techniques to treat and prevent disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system.
The two Strelchecks worked at the clinic together for more than a decade. And Strelcheck Jr. said working in a multi-generational family business presents distinct advantages and challenges.
“We’ve grown older together because of this common bond we have,” he said of his father. “I was able to learn from my father a lot of techniques and methods of chiropractic that are very effective both in care and in cost.
“At the same time, I was able to add my specialty techniques to address different conditions such as facial neuralgia, Bell’s Palsy, migraines, TMJ issues, pelvic instability …”
As for challenges, making the leadership switch was emotionally draining, Strelcheck Jr. said.
“Dad was so used to running everything for all of those years,” he said.
Among the advantages for Strelcheck Jr. was a solid client base, and a business that had grown from a one-man operation to a clinic employing more than two dozen people, including chiropractors, massage therapists, insurance specialists, a care coordinator, front-desk clerks and a director of business development – Strelcheck’s wife, Pamela.
The business received almost 24,000 visits last year, Strelcheck Jr. said.
So, will there be a third generation Strelcheck taking over when Strelcheck Jr. is ready to retire? The jury remains out, the business owner said.
“Out of our three children, there may still be one who may find the field right for him,” he said of his sons, ranging in age from 19 to 26. “And there are also some nieces and nephews – grandpa’s other grandchildren – who are still in high school and junior high.”