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Taking a crack at retirement: Well known Perham chiropractors hanging it up

Kelvin and Michelle Salathe are retiring after 23 years of owning their chiropractic business in Perham. (Kim Brasel/FOCUS).

Twenty-three years ago, Kelvin and Michelle Salathe were embarking on a new adventure as first-time business owners of their own chiropractic practice. They had a used table, a used typewriter, a used ultrasound machine, five chairs and they rented their building space.

"We took out a business loan, borrowed some money from our parents and built it up from there," they said with a laugh.

That adventure is now coming to a close, and the next one is starting as they have sold their business to the husband and wife chiropractic team, Nick and Carissa Mitchell.

Kelvin is retiring for health reasons and the couple said they feel it is time to move on, but it isn't a decision made lightly or easily, as they said their patients became like family over the years.

"The most rewarding part is the people. Just the relationships that we have," Kelvin said. "We have so many people that are just like family. Still are."

Michelle added that they had four generations from one family coming to see them. "It is remarkable the relationships we formed over the years."

They feel like the business took off and grew, thanks to a supportive Perham community, referrals from families and coming back to the area where Kelvin grew up. He graduated from New York Mills, and he worked at Arvig back when it was the East Otter Tail Telephone Company.

Being a chiropractor wasn't his first line of work, Kelvin has a bachelor's degree in Wildlife

Fisheries Biology. He started out working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"I switched over to the two legged animals," he said with a laugh. "I had a hard time getting a job in the federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at the last place I worked, there was a guy who had been doing seasonal (work) for 10 years and still hadn't gotten on full time, so I decided to go to plan B."

He had experience with chiropractic care for knee and back problems as early as sixth grade while living in South Dakota before moving to New York Mills. It had helped with those issues, and in college he sought treatment for severe headaches. That chiropractor was the person who talked him into going to school for it. After five years in Moorhead, the couple decided to move back to this area.

"Having family here and the lakes were both a draw, plus my family is in Fargo, so it's close enough to get back there and visit, " Michelle said.

She added with her background as an RN, if someone said they had low back pain or migraines, she knew what they were talking about, and she could incorporate her RN training into running the office and handling the insurance and billing.

"With my background my options are open," she said. "I think I will take some time off, but then I'll look for something."

They have confidence in the new owners and feel it's all worked out how it was meant to work out.

"We had the business for sale for two years, took it off the market, and four weeks later I had a patient come to me and say he was at a wedding in Sebeka, and there were two chiropractors there looking to start a practice," Kelvin said. "So I called them, and it just went from there."

With their kids, Samantha and Hunter, both graduated from Perham High School and in college, they have time to enjoy life on Marion lake and contemplate what that next adventure will be Although they said they've been busier since retiring and put as many miles on their car in the last month than in the six months before that.

"We've been everywhere," they said with a laugh.