Often, the journey of one man’s success is fueled by the desire to improve the lives of his family and the community he serves. This was the path for Dr. Terry Reavis, raised in the small town of Stigler, Oklahoma. While still in high school, Dr. Reavis was inspired to become a dentist after several conversations with his brother-in-law who was enrolled in dental school at the time. Dr. Reavis loved the idea of a profession that would offer flexibility and longevity.
“I always wanted to do something that would allow me to give back to my hometown. Dentistry seemed to allow that for me.”
By the time he graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry, Dr. Reavis had a wife and two young children to support. Though he considered continuing his education to specialize in pediatric dentistry, the delay of two additional years in school wasn’t worth the strain.
Dr. Reavis was offered an associate role in Tulsa, with the intention of purchasing the practice from a dentist who would be transitioning into retirement. However the timeline for this transition was constantly pushed back to the point Dr. Reavis began losing faith.
“He never could make his mind up when he wanted to retire. So I got an opportunity to work for the public health service. It meant a steady paycheck and benefits. With my wife and two kids, I needed something firm that I could rely on.”
Over the next couple years, Dr. Reavis would continue to work at the Cherokee Nation Medical-Dental Clinic in Stilwell, Oklahoma. The fast-paced environment would help him develop his confidence and skills in a short period of time.
Out of the blue he received a call from a former colleague and mentor. Dr. Reavis was informed that there was a practice in Bixby in need of a dentist. “It was just a little satellite practice with only two chairs, but it was sitting empty. So we worked out a deal.” Dr. Reavis continued working full-time with the public health service while commuting on Fridays to see patients in Bixby. He was hopeful that with a little time and dedication, this small practice could turn into something pretty good.
In 1988 Dr. Reavis realized the potential, and moved his family to Bixby full time.
“It was just my wife and I in the beginning. She worked the front desk and was my dental assistant. It took us about four years to get out of debt, but it was a fun four years!”
And for the next 34 years and counting, that’s where Dr. Reavis has stayed. Standard stresses like meeting overhead and maintaining a happy team were his greatest hurdles, though it hardly seemed worth complaining about. With the steady growth of his practice, Dr. Reavis enjoyed working as he proudly witnessed his family and city blossom. Being a practice owner was never short of a blessing. In fact, he couldn’t recall exactly how or when the Apex Dental Partners brochure first appeared in his desk drawer, but it stayed there for years before he finally made a call to learn more.
“As time went by, my wife continued to be the business manager. She paid the bills. She made sure payroll was done. She was my banker, she did all that.”
The workload of having a business was constant. While Dr. Reavis had no intention of stepping completely away from his practice, he was curious about the services a partnership could offer. The opportunity to arrive at work at 8am and leave by 5pm without worry was intriguing. After many meetings with co-founders Matt Hale and David Lohmann, Dr. Reavis agreed a partnership with Apex could be a perfect fit.
But the day before signing his letter of intent, Dr. Reavis got cold feet.
“We went through the whole thing. And it came down to the day before I needed to make my decision and I just thought, eh, I was almost 61 at the time– I thought, I’m just too young to do this right now! That’s what I thought… That was on a Friday. Saturday we got up and my wife and I are trying to figure out what we want to do for the weekend and my wife said, ‘well, I’ve got to work at my desk today and tomorrow just to get caught up for Monday.’ And I thought, okay, this right here is why I looked at the association with Apex. I don’t want us to spend our weekends working anymore.”
Monday morning he called Matt and David again. Then in April 2019, Dr. Reavis officially partnered with Apex. Though the transition from “Owner” to “Partner” felt a little strange at first, he can confidently say he has no regrets.
When asked what advice he would give to a dentist in his position, Dr. Reavis recommends you find an option that allows you to stay true to your clinical philosophy. Apex offered the support services, transition timeline, and practice valuation that matched his needs and expectations, while still allowing him to improve patient care. When negotiating with recent dental school graduates, Dr. Reavis was concerned that the offers made to him were undervaluing the years of hard work he’d invested into his community. Partnering with Apex, however, was a win-win as they saw the worth and limitless potential of a practice that had 30 years of roots. Dr. Reavis benefited as well from the security of an organization that wanted to re-invest in him and his team.
“Now, dental students have so much debt when they come out of school, it’s unreal! The only change with Apex was they came in and made our practice better. We got new equipment and lots of things we needed but didn’t think we could afford. Any help, all we had to do was ask.”
His most recent request? Dr. Reavis is making plans to start placing his own implants for the first time. At 63 years old, he’s confident in his abilities in general dentistry, but with Apex’s support he’s now looking forward to a new challenge and many more years of doing what he loves.
“Apex has helped me realize my potential to do things I wasn’t comfortable doing before. I’ve still got a little tread left on the tires! I wasn’t ready to give up. When something new comes along, that’s what keeps you going.”