By Kelby Zendejas
Dr. Walker Swaney from Oxford Dental answers five questions about the word “greatness” and the success of his dental practice. Swaney has been a dentist for 47 full years, and still carries the same amount of daily motivation and love for his community. Swaney has been included in this list of “greats” due to the nature of the office and his undeniable love for his patients and staff for decades past and decades to come.
Q: What is the definition of the word “greatness” to you and Oxford Dental?
“Greatness” is a really big word and could mean many things to everyone. However, if it is referring to me, I have to say, “Whoa! I don’t feel like I am in the ‘great’ category.” I am very blessed to have had a long wonderful successful career.
I repeat, “great” is not in my vocabulary for myself but I do attribute my success to these traits:
1) I was born with a lot of energy! I certainly don’t need caffeine to roll in the mornings.
2) I love that I have a lot of “want to.” This means I don’t need motivation to move forward. I simply feel the need to be an action person and help in getting things done.
3) Lastly, for me, change is good. I embrace change. Being stagnant is not my style.
These personality traits are very helpful in my everyday process in accomplishing what’s next.
This year I begin my 48th year. To have worked this long and still enjoy everyday means something to me. My practice though deserves the “greatness” category because I truly do feel it is “great!” The reason is because of the mindset our people have when they show up for work every day. Basically, we agree at the beginning of each work day that today we will strive to make a difference in people’s lives and make them feel like a special guest when they come to see us. We are fortunate to be able to treat over 60-70 patients a day.
I can honestly say that our patients share and exhibit that feeling of looking forward to coming in. They know that on that visit they will be greeted by a friendly voice on the phone, welcomed with a warm smile as they enter, then promptly seen after a “no wait” appointment time, treated with 100% kindness and care and hopefully no discomfort, and when they leave they are thanked and be told we appreciate their support, their referrals, and their loyalty. Consequently, we see over 4,000 active patients many of whom have been coming for over 30-40 years!
So where is the “greatness” in Oxford Dental? It’s in the culture we share, it’s in the devotion and concern we have for all our patients, and it’s in the open communication and closeness we all share with each other at work.
Q: How long has Oxford Dental been open? Was the dream always to open up our own dentist practice?
I started my practice as an associate with Dr. Don Newcomb in 1975. He truly was a wonderful mentor and role model. Then, I practiced for over these last 45 years wanting to grow my practice, to offer my patients the best care possible, offering the latest technology available in the dental field, and always striving to improve.
At this point I am privileged to have four partners and associates working with me that also share this level of care and commitment that I share.
Q: What sets Oxford Dental apart from the other dentist offices in the area?
Trying to “set myself apart” from other dental offices has never been a burning thought for me. Everybody has their idea and plan and method for delivering care to their patients. I do think the reason we might be perceived as different is the total patient commitment we all share in delivering the absolute best care in a relaxed, fun yet professional environment. Like I said, nobody wants to go to the dentist – but if you have to go and you need to go – why not go somewhere where you are treated like a special guest or treated like a friend and where you are made to feel welcomed and acknowledged and appreciated?
Most patients that come to see us say, “I have never been to an office like this. Thank you for being here.” That makes going to work all the more exciting and enjoyable. And to this day – that has never gotten old.
Q: Have there been any hardships you’ve had to face that could have affected the business? How did you overcome them, if so?
As a longtime business owner, I feel very fortunate to have experienced mostly positive productive experiences.
However, in the early years of operating a business with the prime rate at 21 percent certainly made you skeptical about what the future holds. Then, the “Great Recession” of the 2008 – 2009 years was certainly a challenge when most everyone was having a hard time financially. Then, we all experienced the “Covid Years.” Who would think the world would be facing such an uncertain future and what the outcome would be.
Lastly, all business owners, no matter what their businesses are, have to have their employees understand the vision that the business owner has for his company. Sometimes this is an easy concept – sometimes this is difficult to grasp. But the future and success of any company, I believe, starts with the person at the top that shares a concept for all to believe in and help carry out every day!
Q: What’s the best part of living in Oxford and serving the community?
No one has to tell Oxonians how blessed we are to “live in our dream.” It’s without a doubt the greatest city anywhere and we get to live here!
This town has allowed me to have practiced dentistry for over 47 years, having watched my kids grow up and now have kids of their own making me the happiest Pop in the world, having a beautiful wife, Molissia, for 52 years and counting. Tell me why I am smiling? I tell my folks I work with almost daily, “Today is not a dress rehearsal, it’s showtime today! Make it count!” I thank the good Lord for allowing me to experience what I have and I look forward to what the years ahead bring.