Hot rods accelerate orthodontist's practice

March 21, 2012

Call it cheeseburger in paradise, movie mania, hot rod heaven or a yearning for yesteryear. No matter how you label it, David Myer’s orthodontic office, which is designed to look like a 1950s gas station/soda shop/old-time movie theater, makes visits for young patients more fun.

Call it cheeseburger in paradise, movie mania, hot rod heaven or a yearning for yesteryear. No matter how you label it, David Myer’s orthodontic office, which is designed to look like a 1950s gas station/soda shop/old-time movie theater, makes visits for young patients more fun.

“When new patients come in the staff gives them a tour,” said Myers. “They just go ‘Wow. This is so cool.’ And they take pictures and post them on Facebook.”

From the reception desk designed to look like a vintage woodie wagon to the 1956 pink Cadillac turned into a couch, to the movie marquee where patients’ names are in lights, the 3,600 square foot office in Conway, Ark. takes the Wow factor to a whole new level.

It’s where Myers, who admits to being a cool car fanatic, is able to indulge his interest in hot rods and display his collections.

“I’ve been a car nut and an orthodontic nut since I was 6 years old,” said Myers. “I liked going to the dentist and I liked playing with mechanical things – cars, trains, remote-control planes, but mostly cars.”

Myers, who moved into the new office about a year and a half ago, wanted anything but bland and boring for his new place. He hired an architect to create the floor plan, but did much of the work to make it unique including restoring cars and building his own custom furniture.

Myers, with some help from his father, made two couches --one from a 1956 Olds 98 and the other from a pink 1959 Cadillac upholstered with cowhide. The reception desk is a 1947 Mercury coupe with a 1946 Ford grille and a surfboard for a roof.

“Every car I used was an unsalvageable pile of rust,” he said. “If you can build an office with paint and sheet rock (as he did) for the same cost as something mauve and boring it’s a no-brainer.”

Nearly every item in the office, which has 18-foot-high ceilings, has a personal connection for Myers. The reception area features a Big Boy sign because that was Myer’s favorite restaurant when he was a child. The patient exam room looks like where he used to order ice cream sundaes.

“It has a soda fountain facade. Named Fairmont's, it is the soda fountain my grandpa used to take me to,” Myers said.

The office is furnished with a movie theatre-style marquee where new patients have their names written in lights to welcome them to the office. Glass cases built into the walls are filled with Matchbox cars and other collections.

“There is a lot of stuff that is what my wife tells me I can put anywhere I want in the attic or garage,” Myers said.

Though he didn’t plan it, Myers said his unique office has been good for business. At his previous office in a non-descript strip mall his staff had to explain its location to callers. Now his free-standing building is a local landmark that people recognize.

“I didn’t have a presence,” he said. “Now we don’t have to describe where we are. Now people locate where they are by us.”

For any other dentists thinking of building a new office, Myers would advise using an architect. He spent a year searching the Internet before hiring one who specializes in dental office design.

“The best money you’ll spend is hiring a professional who knows what they’re doing,” he said. “I had the idea and knew what I wanted, but I didn’t know how to make it happen.”

He saved money by having plans firmly in place, and not having to ask for any costly changes once construction started.

What he learned from his previous office also contributed to creating a functional design. He knew, for instance, that he wanted to have separate spaces for his X-ray and records rooms. In his former office there was sometimes a wait for X-rays if a staff member was looking for records.

The look of joy that Myers sees on patients’ faces when they visit is worth it, he said. The office continues to be a work-in-progress.

“I still find stuff (for the office),” he said. “I was just hanging pictures yesterday.”