How One DSO Has Retained its Hometown Family Feel for 40 Years

Recently, more than 530 employees, friends and community members came together at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City for a big birthday bash celebrating Dental Depot’s 40th birthday. The mid-market DSO has locations in Arizona and Oklahoma with plans to expand.

Like at every good birthday party, there was cake and ice cream, lots of games, a dunk tank and more. It was a proud moment for Dental Depot founder, Dr. Glenn Ashmore. “We have been so fortunate to have people who want to take this crazy journey with us and continue to grow,” Ashmore said. “It means a lot to me that everyone came out to celebrate 40 years of Dental Depot.”

Dr. Ashmore with Arlene at their first location in 1978

When Ashmore started the company in 1978, it was a much smaller affair. At the height of Oklahoma City’s Oil Boom, and with office space in short supply, Dr. Ashmore and his wife Arlene, a dental hygienist, decided to convert a small home on N.W. 23rd Street in Oklahoma City’s historic Linwood neighborhood into a dental office. It was Arlene’s idea to create the iconic train-theme for the Dental Depot. She bought the first toy train and added on to the collection by antiquing and finding more train memorabilia.

Today, every Dental Depot location – and there are 21 these days – not only has a working model train running through the operatories, but a large train to play on outside, and the recognizable Dental Depot train station design of the offices is easy to spot anywhere.

While the business has grown, the Dental Depot retains its feel of a hometown dentist and has remained a family-owned and operated dental practice group. The team of more than 500 employees feels like a big family, said Lacey Cagle, office manager at Dental Depot in Midwest City. “Family doesn’t have to be blood. It’s anybody you love and trust,” she said.

Keeping true to its family-operated traditions, Dr. Cody Dunnington, Ashmore’s daughter, brought her talents to the practice in 2010. Dunnington said it was opening the second location in 2001 that was the biggest leap for the family.

“I think probably his biggest risk was opening his second location,” Dunnington said. “Because he didn’t know for sure what he was doing yet and how it would go. Anytime you try something new and you don’t know the systems yet, it’s a risk.” It paid off, and more offices followed. Ashmore opened the 21st Dental Depot location in July, 2018.

The original goal to provide every patient — adults and children — with high-quality, affordable dental care, from routine checkups and preventive care to root canals, is still the focus of the business. Another aspect that has remained unchanged over the past four decades is the company’s commitment to the community.

“It is everybody’s responsibility to be a part of and be involved where they live, personally and as a company,” Ashmore said.

Amish Patel, VP (l), Dr. Ashmore, Himesh Kana, Managing Partner (r)

Oklahoma ranks among the states with the worst dental health outcomes in the country, and Ashmore believes it is vital to make sure people across the state have access to dental care. However, he also believes that building community is just as important. Each location gets involved in community events such as parades, back-to-school events and local chambers of commerce.

The community projects that Dental Depot supports are as diverse as the communities in which they are located: from organizations that promote oral health to making Oklahoma City more beautiful, and from youth-focused causes to the Oklahoma Railroad Museum. The list of projects is long: OKC Beautiful, Free to Live, Special Olympics, The Compassionate Friends, The American Legion, Miles Against Melanoma and the Regional Food Bank, local veterans’ groups, schools and more.

Lisa Synar, executive director of OKC Beautiful, has worked with Ashmore and the Dental Depot volunteers for years. “He understands that a clean and beautiful city is much more than just pretty. It’s an economic driving factor in the community,” she said.

The team at Dental Depot has a particularly big heart for organizations that help at-risk youth and support kids and families facing medical challenges. More recently, they have become involved with Fields & Futures, an organization that builds athletic fields and provide resources for coaches in an effort to create new opportunities for students to join a team and benefit from that experience. Tim McLaughlin, executive director of Fields and Futures, said having community partner such as the Dental Depot makes a difference for so many kids in the metro. “We are blessed to know Dr. Ashmore and his impact. It has been fantastic for us,” McLaughlin said.

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