If you were to ask Dr. Anthony Durall, DMD, and Dr. Justin Wedding, DMD, what it’s like to come to work every day, they just might say that “every day is like Disney World.” That may sound odd given that in their craft of orthodontics, they spend their days applying and adjusting braces to patients’ teeth. What may sound even odder is that if their patients were asked how they felt about coming into the office, they might just agree with the comparison.
Durall has been practicing orthodontics in Owensboro since August of 1981, when he and his wife Cindy started the practice. Durall would continue to practice by himself for the next 36 years, but not entirely. Durall credits so much of his practice to his office manager, Benita Drury, and to his dedicated staff.
“The culture here is a total team effort,” Durall said. “Everybody is on the same page of making the patients feel special because they are special.”
It is that culture that explains why the majority of Durall’s employees have worked for him for over 30 years.
Over those years, Durall has seen an estimated 11,000 patients, from young children to older adults. Durall is still able to recall several patients that have had to start treatment as young as age seven, but did not complete treatment until they were nearly 17.
“You’ve watched them grow up; they’re like your own children,” Durall said. “It is such an honor that they chose to come here. We don’t take that lightly at all. We have to earn our stripes every day.”
Durall not only watched other children grow up over a span of thirty years, but he watched his own girls, Emmy and Sarah, grow up and have children of their own. So, about seven years ago, Durall recognized that he needed to begin searching for a partner and a would-be successor.
This task was not only difficult because of the high standards Durall had set for his office, but, he said, that with few orthodontists in training each year, there are not always a lot of candidates to choose from, especially near the Owensboro area.
“The chances of finding the type of person I wanted to fit in with our staff and existing culture was a little daunting,” Durall said.
He met and interviewed several potential candidates, but said that none of them seemed to be the right fit. Until, five years ago, when Durall said, “the sky opened up and a guy named Justin Wedding came and shadowed.”
“He is not a fit,” Durall said. “He is the fit.”
Wedding said that his orthodontist recommended he shadow with Dr. Durall, and, after Wedding came to visit, he called Madison (now his wife) and said, “I can’t explain it. If you want an orthodontist and you want mentors and a family, this is it.”
Durall waited patiently for Wedding to finish his residency, even to the point of receiving spinal epidurals for pain brought on by spinal stenosis, until Wedding was ready for practice.
“It was a five-year process, visiting, talking and emailing,” Durall said. “I still have the first note from him shadowing in my briefcase. He mentioned the staff and the culture and how they treated everyone like family.”
Durall said, fortunately, the staff felt the same way about Wedding, so they agreed to sign a contract in December of 2016, six months before Wedding graduated.
“I just wanted to make it to July 2017,” Durall said. “Next to getting engaged, married, and having children and grandchildren, that was one of the best days of my life.”
This past July 18, Drs. Durall and Wedding celebrated one year in practice together.
Durall has now cut back his workload substantially, just coming into the office one or two days a week. He now finds he has time to travel to visit with his children and grandchildren, and spend with his wife, Cindy.
“We have been married 43 years,” Durall said. “I love her more now than I ever have.”
Durall said he and his wife have talked more in the last 16 months than in the previous 40 plus years.
“We still like each other after 43 yrs –- not just love — like,” Cindy said. “We like hanging out together.”
As for the transition for Wedding and the rest of the office, he has introduced a lot of new ideas as well as several pieces of new technology, but his philosophy has inherently stayed the same.
“People in general want to make other people feel special. I think that’s why it’s so easy to fit in here,” Wedding said. “When you are around the culture you want to be a part of it, it’s infectious.”
Cindy Durall has noticed that her husband no longer brings home stacks of conferences to review and that his stress level has decreased, adding, “He was almost filled with new life.”
Durall does have moments when he misses seeing patients, but he has found that he has such a comfort level with Wedding at the office, that he has been able to give himself permission to take time away.
“I had not really realized it, but I could really focus on myself,” Durall said. “I haven’t given it a second thought.”
The dedicated staff that has shared the office with Durall for over 30 years, couldn’t be happier with the ease of the transition.
“I can speak for the whole staff when I say we feel truly blessed to have gotten to work with Dr. Durall as long as we have,” Drury said. “To be able to work with another boss with the same character is just amazing. They’re both great men, and Owensboro’s very lucky to have them.”