Proud To Be High-Tech – Dr. Nathan Proud makes a move to take his practice to the next level in Guthrie, Oklahoma

By Russ Cornelius
Photos by Jason Hudson


Can you tell me a little about your background—where you grew up, your education, and what led you to dentistry?
I grew up in Northern Alberta on the farm. It’s about 11 hours north of the Montana border. It was a very rural community, and I learned the value of hard work there. I went to Canadian University College for my undergrad, and then on to Southern California for graduate school at Loma Linda University. It was an excellent school clinically, one of the best in my opinion. They really set the stage for my career and then I moved on to Oklahoma. My wife and I went back and forth between moving back to Canada to be near my parents, or to Oklahoma to be near hers, and Oklahoma won out. We’ve been here about six and a half years now. I worked in corporate dentistry for a while, then in private practice, and we bought this practice about three and a half years ago.

How long were you practicing before you decided to open the new practice?
I took over this practice about three and a half years ago. Before that I worked for someone else for three years. Before we moved it here, it was in a small 1,100 sq. ft. building next to an abandoned hospital. The location was really preventing us from growing, but I still saw it as an opportunity. There were a lot of changes that needed to happen. When I took over, the only thing in the office was a typewriter and everything was very primitive. So I did some initial updating, but held back on a lot of major improvements until we could find a more suitable location. I worked with my Burkhart Equipment Specialist, Russ Cornelius, for a couple of years on several different locations and plans before we finally came up with this one.

What was your motivation for opening the new practice?
We wanted to give a better overall experience to the patients. We give high-end care, and we wanted a building that mirrored that. The previous building definitely did not support that. It was very small, off the beaten path, and not conducive to modern day dental treatment. I held back purchasing a lot of dental equipment and remodeling that location because I knew it’s long-term viability was limited. We were looking for something long term, and this building gives us that. There is room here for future operatories.

Was there an inspiration for how you wanted the practice to look and feel?
I came from a school that was very up-to-date and high-tech. It set the standard for me for the level of care that I wanted to give when I left school. I wanted my building and location to mirror that. We wanted to find a place closer to the heartbeat of the community. Guthrie has a very unique and historic downtown, and we are right in the midst of it. This building was originally built in the early 1900s and has changed occupants a number of times along the way. We are excited to be here long term. Now we have a good mix of historic, but also new and contemporary. It’s a bit of a hybrid, and we like that.


How did you get started with the project?
It all started with the design and putting together an appropriate plan. We must have done 13 different designs, and Russ was very patient with us through that process which made it easier. There were no complaints or hesitation because we all wanted to get it right. I certainly did, but I could tell that Burkhart did also. Through those different designs, we started coming together and came up with exactly what we wanted.

Who were the key players working with you on building the new office?
Russ was definitely the biggest player. He was there from the very beginning to the very end and every step along the way. He measured the building, made the plans, made the construction documents, and was here when they installed everything. Burkhart Account Manager Rob Holley had a huge part in it as well and was very helpful.

Tell me about the equipment selection process.
The equipment selection process was a bit unique, because we had some existing equipment, but not a whole lot. And it was old. We were happy to say goodbye to a lot of it. But throughout that process, I had an idea of some equipment that would work, but needed help narrowing that vague idea down to specific brands and models and options in those models—and what would be the benefits on cost, on longevity, and performance. We had recently purchased an Engle 360 package that we were happy with, so we purchased more for the remaining operatories. We needed a whole new mechanical room, so Russ helped us select Air Techniques. We also got a Porter mobile nitrous setup and a few small items for the lab.

Was there any equipment in particular that you gave extra time or focus to?
Cabinetry. It’s phenomenal. It’s from MCC in Canada, which holds a little spot in my heart. It was very unique. They paid a lot of attention to detail to make it very dental specific. My staff, my patients, and especially me—we all appreciate the quality and details. It’s easy to use and it’s beautiful. We give office tours and it is a showcase for us.

How did the construction process go?
There were parts that went smoothly—mostly the parts Burkhart had their hand in. The parts that did not go very smoothly were the parts where contractors had issues along the way. We had to let some contractors go, and there were some significant delays. I would recommend using a contractor that has experience with dental offices. Burkhart definitely did their best job working with us to make sure there was very little down time and everything went as smoothly as possible. We had some leeway because we didn’t have to be out of our other location by any certain date. We shut the doors over there and we operating here in about a week.


Pictured: Rob Holley (Burkhart Account Manager), Christy Dodd (Office Manager), Nathan Proud DDS, Raylene Dempsey (Assistant), Russ Cornelius (Burkhart Equipment Specialist)

How did the equipment installation process go? Was there a person in particular that played a significant role?
There were definitely three main players: Russ, Rob and Tracey Turner (Burkhart Equipment Coordinator). They got everything organized. They got the moving vans and equipment lined up so that everything went as efficiently as possible. Tracey even came up here and directed the moving men on where to put everything. Kieth Thomas and Akio Kafka (Burkhart Service Technicians), got everything hooked up and functional rather quickly once it was inside. In fact, we were actually able to deliver a crown in the middle of the process, the day after we brought things in.

What has the new office meant to the success of your practice?
It’s something we made considerable investment in. Not only in time, money, and effort, but also in the community. Before we moved in, there was just plywood and brick. We brought one of these old buildings to life and we plan on being here long term. We plan on growing this practice, and it has already helped facilitate that. We have had a steady stream of new patients since we moved in. There’s a unique buzz when you move your practice to a busy street. The amount of new patients has definitely increased, and we’ve seen a bit of a snowball effect there.

What advice would you give to a doctor who is considering building a new office?
Do your homework. Have a good support team to guide you through the process. There are many different manufacturers and supply companies, but Burkhart took it to a personal level. They know what is going on in our office, we aren’t just another account to them and we really appreciate that. We use them
for everything.

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