Who I am, what I do, and why I do it.
Back in the sixties one of my favorite bands was “3 Dog Night”. Little did I know I was in for a 3 Dog life. The first dog was a playful pup, only interested in girls and getting through school with as little effort as possible in that order. God had his hand on me when I met Jan Gates. Looking back 42 years we are both confused at what attracted her to me. She says somewhere under that long hair and deep in those marijuana glazed eyes she saw potential.
I am not sure if it is a strength or a weakness but my insatiable, desire to please, in this case Jan, flung me head long into a course that would take me to dental school. I would like to say seven years, marrying Jan and finishing dental school made me a better person, but that was not the case. Although I had a solo practice back in my home town of Guthrie, Oklahoma, two sons and a over supported wife, I found myself with a practice full of unhappy patients, miserable staff and an anemic bank account. The only evident abundance was in past due bills and overloaded credit cards.
The second dog life was a bulldog. I remember the day just like it was yesterday. It was June 25, 1987. I will never forget that day walking into my office after the worst week of my life. I had just buried my 2 year old son who had died in a tragic accident. I was still feeling the pain of that and the embarrassment of having to pay for his burial with yet another credit card. I had been out of the office for a week and knew I was facing a schedule full of folks who were half ticked and a pile of unopened mail.
Well, that day on top of the stack of unopened mail on my desk was a 3 by 5 yellow card. I am sure that card had been in my mail many times before and in my busyness it was perceived as just a junk mail pest, but that day I picked it up and read it. It was pure and simple and spoke straight to my pain. It said “Doctor Have You Had Enough? Is it Time You Take Control of Your Life? Call This Number For A Free Consultation.” I closed the door to my tiny office, sat down at my messy desk and made the call that changed my life. That day that 3 x 5 yellow post card and once perceived pest became a welcome guest.
The person who answered my desperate call was good. He asked the right questions, was empathetic with my pain and even though, I didn’t want to hear it, told me exactly what I needed to do next. He said “Doctor we can help however you will need to be in Glendale California for a training program next week”.
I believe it was Mark Twain who said there are basically 2 kinds of folks, those with excuses and those with results. If I was looking for excuses that day, I had a few to pick from. I had just buried my son. I had been out of the office for a week already. Nathan, my surviving son, and my wife needed me at home for emotional support. I would need another credit card. These were just a few. However that day I was not looking for excuses, I was looking for relief. So, I applied for another credit card, told my bewildered receptionist that I was taking off another week, kissed my son and wife good bye and the bull dog headed off to Glendale for a journey that brings me here today.
My third dog life is a Saint Bernard. After hundreds of hours in classes, a stack of continuing educational cassettes (this dates me) and a six-figure investment in my business education I was able to take my fledgling dental practice from the bottom to the top 1% producing solo practices in the U.S. In my bulldog life stage as I became more successful, I was invited to be a guest speaker in several diverse venues. Although I was fortunate to share the stage with many prestigious pros like Zig Zigglar, John Maxwell and Roger Staughbach, my most favorite audience was dental students. I was and still regularly invited to speak to junior and senior students on dental management. Being thrust back into the academic environment, I learned something distressful. For various reasons, dental manpower in the rural communities was trending downward. Very few new graduates had the financial resources and the professional confidence to venture out to these communities and set up a practice.
In the Oklahoma market there are more dentist dying or retiring than new graduates willing to replace them. In 2001 I had a long time friend and colleague approach me about working in my office after he fulfilled his service obligation to the Indian Health Service. I was hesitant because over the years I had tried and failed miserably incorporating an associate to my practice. Not wanting to say no, I had another idea. By this time I had developed a very successful practice with proprietary systems. Could I help my friend duplicate my success in another location?
We launch what was to become the second Custom Dental practice in July of 2002. Today Custom Dental has replicated itself ten times in Missouri and Oklahoma and we have plans to add many more. The unique operating model allows a dentist to be in business for themselves but not by themselves. In 2008, I left chair side practice to support and mentor my partner docs as Custom Dental has become the fastest growing owner-operated joint-venture dental business in the world.
10 locations with another one opening in June. We are 80+ and growing!
- Received the “ Capacity Academy Lifetime Achievement Award” for his contribution to the Capacity Academy Annual Conference
- Took his private practice from the bottom 5% to the top 5% in the dental industry in 12 months
- Lane Zunker Leadership Award
- International Outstanding Achievment Award
- Author of “The Official Hand-Guide in Choosing Your Dentist
- International Lecturer
- 2010 GKIC International Marketing Finalist
- Developed the fastest growing
joint-venture, owner-operated dental model in the world
- Author of “Think and Grow Rich in Dentistry”
- “Great Rated” by Great Place to Work (In 2012 – 94% of employees loved working for Custom Dental)