Preserving a Piece Of Hagerstown – an Abandoned Auto Shop Takes on a New Life

Whew! It has been a busy last couple of months. I think my husband is wondering if I am having some kind of secret affair with a pilot these days because I am spending more time on an airplane than I am with him – a little jealousy in a relationship doesn’t hurt. I’m calling it the “midwest tour” with a little Del-Mar-Va (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) – the company calls it Reboot Practice Productivity Training. Whatever you call it, every week I hit the road to implement Lean principles to improve clinical efficiency in dental practices across North America. While some dentists are experiencing hardships during this time, many are celebrating huge wins. I thought I would share a few of these wins with you over the next few months.

In early August, I traveled to Hagerstown, Maryland to perform a Jumpstart Training. Jumpstarts are similar to Reboot Practice Productivity Training but are tailored to those doctors who designed and equipped a new office build with Design Ergonomics and Ergonomic Products. I worked with Dr. Rhett Eklund and his team at Potomac Dental Centre. When I pulled up to the location, I knew this one was going to be special.

Dr. Rhett Eklund was ready to expand and purchased a property just one block from his existing practice – an old, abandoned auto garage located in the historical district of Hagerstown. It had been vacant for years but Dr. Eklund and his community remember this once thriving business. So, he decided to buy it. But instead of tearing it down, Dr. Eklund wanted to preserve it.

The decision to maintain the character of this historic building was important to Dr. Rhett. But how could he turn an abandoned auto shop into a fully functioning dental practice? First, he invested in one of the “big three” dental suppliers to help him with the project. Draft after draft, things just weren’t coming together. It had taken over a year to just get something down on paper. They put a design together and just before permitting, things still didn’t feel right. Some may call it cold feet (at least that’s what the dental supplier did), but for Dr. Eklund, it was a gut feeling.

Dr. Rhett Eklund contacted Design Ergonomics founder Dr. David Ahearn to see if we could offer a second opinion to his already completed floorplan before he sent the plans to the city for permitting. Not only was Dr. A willing to offer a second opinion but he insisted that Dr. Rhett make a short trip to Massachusetts and tour his dental practice, Perfect Smiles in Seekonk, for another perspective. You know when you get that “A-ha!” moment? Well, after that tour, Dr. Eklund knew he wanted to work with us and started the entire design process over. That takes courage! But when you are building the practice of your dreams, you have to stick to your guns and be brave..

Listening to your gut when it tells you to pay attention usually pays off…and listening to others when they’re telling you something is important to them can change everything. Listening. It’s a skill.

Mackenzie Waring, Practice Liaison at Design Ergonomics, Office Designer Paul Leonard and Interior Designer Donna Kent did just that – and delivered exactly what the doctor ordered.

“They get me”, Dr. Rhett Eklund said in a testimonial I recorded onsite during training.

From Blocking diagram







The end result would improve the face(s) of Hagerstown, Maryland forever.

Design and equipment are the tangibles. It’s my job to help put all the pieces together and set Potomac Dental Centre up for success from the “Jump” start. Put it all together and you’ve got a true powerhouse of dental productivity! It was a pleasure meeting Dr. Eklund and learning about his journey. His new best-selling book is being written now – this is just a mere chapter….

Author Angie Bachman