Douglas Martin grew up just 120 miles from Rockford, but after he earned his doctorate in dentistry, the Air Force and his following career took him all over the country. Now, with 23 years of experience and with plenty of progressive West Coast practices to offer, he has taken over the general dentistry office of Dr. John Conklin, who spent his entire career working from downtown Rockford.
Some people are still moving to Michigan for work. Serving as proof is Rockford’s newest dentist, Dr. Martin, who came here in part because of a position his wife was offered as dean at Grand Rapids Community College. Martin said the Midwest is very solid in dentistry and the Grand Rapids area in particular has much to offer. He also hoped to return to the area to be closer to family. Finding a dentist who hoped to find a replacement so he could retire was a perfect fit.
Dr. Conklin, with an office located at 112 Monroe St., has been serving his patients for many years and is known for his passion of golf. He and Martin even officially shook on the agreement over the practice while on a golf course. Martin said he thought this a fitting gesture, given Conklin’s fondness for the game. Now retired, Conklin will likely have more time for the sport and add to his lifetime seven holes-in-one.
Martin aspired to a career in dentistry because it fit in with his interest in science, his desire to help people, and his desire to be his own businessman. A native of Wisconsin, he graduated from the University of Marquette and looked to the military to offer him his start. “To start from scratch can take a long time,” he said of his profession. Martin said new dentists can sometimes make a go of a practice in a suburb of a large city, such as Dallas, Texas, or in a town that is small and has no dentist. Usually, though, it is tough to start out cold. “That’s why so many dentists form a partnership when they are young.”
Martin’s partnership with the United States was the success he’d hoped. As a commissioned officer, he built up the experience and skills for his own successful practice. The Air Force brought him to Denver, Colo. There he enjoyed private practice for 23 years while raising a family with wife Cindy.
As their children grew and began heading off to college, the couple longed to return to their Midwest roots. When Martin heard of Conklin’s plans to retired, he hoped Rockford would be the home base for the rest of his career. He opened doors October 1 and spent some time updating operations of the office.
Kathryn Ricker, long-time front desk person for the office, jumped right in to new computerization of patient files and billing. “The office had been using the old pegboard system,” Martin noted. “I don’t know why its called that. There is no peg and no board. The ledger system included accounts on file cards and handwritten bills. I came from a large practice. Kathryn has helped a lot and it’s working extremely well,” Martin said of the new programming.
Martin hopes to offer more than just electronic record keeping to the Rockford area, and is confident his 23 years in the progressive west will be a benefit to his patients. As a general dentist, Martin offers everything from teeth cleaning, root canal filing therapy and up to basic oral surgery. “I don’t knock people out,” he said. “They are conscious when they are in my chair.” He is very proud of his nearly painless injection technique. He also is pleased to bring top-notch cosmetic work to his patients and will work with labs in California, known in the profession to be among the best in the country.
Martin plans to join the Rockford Chamber of Commerce and be a supportive member of the town’s business community. He expected to enjoy his return to this part of the country and hasn’t been disappointed.
“My patients seem to be responding well to me. I think we are building good relationships,” Martin said.
The happy surprise to his move is how he feels going to work in downtown Rockford. “When I get out of the car at the office, there is a feeling of peace and tranquility that my soul feels when I am here.”