In this month’s Partner Spotlight, we caught up with Drs. Ernie and Dan Wotton, brothers and well-respected dentists, to discuss their influences behind their choice of profession, their unique journeys to partnership, and what they’re most proud of accomplishing in their careers.
As principal dentists, Ernie and Dan both run thriving practices on opposite coasts in Nova Scotia and British Columbia, respectively.
Hailing from St. John, New Brunswick, the Wotton brothers spent the long maritime winters like most kids: playing hockey. Their three-year age difference became less noticeable over the years, and by the time they got to university, they were playing on the same hockey team with the same circle of friends.
For Ernie, dentistry was always part of the plan. His family dentist inspired him from a young age to pursue a career in oral health. After completing his undergraduate degree from Mt. Allison University, he was accepted into Dalhousie University’s first-ever general dentistry program, where he had the privilege of studying under the same professors for four years. “Dental school was a really special time for me. I received valuable mentorship and guidance and built connections that I still maintain to this day. As an alum, I continue to support Dalhousie’s dental school,” he says.
Upon graduation from Dalhousie University in 1990, he established Antigonish Family Dentistry in Antigonish, NS.
Unlike his older brother, Dan wasn’t so sure of his career path. He explains, “Dentistry for me was actually plan b. I initially thought I wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but in hindsight, I’m thankful it didn’t work out. It was Ernie who suggested a career in dentistry. He was in dental school at the time when I was considering what to do, so, I followed in his footsteps. And the rest is history.”
While at dental school, Dan landed a summer job on the opposite coast at the University of Victoria, where he met his future wife, D. Upon graduating from Dalhousie in 1994, he settled out west to start a family and build his practice. The following year, he established Summit Dental Clinic in Kamloops, BC, where he has proudly served families for the past 26 years.
Two decades into his successful practice, Ernie made the decision to join the dentalcorp network. With a busy clinic and mounting operational demands, he was looking for an exit strategy. “The model appealed to me and my wife, Bernice, who is also our practice manager, to take a step back from our roles,” he says. “Ironically, we ended up doing the complete opposite as we’ve since expanded into four practice locations. The opportunities were there. dentalcorp was growing, so we decided to grow with them.”
Over the years, the two discussed their experiences in the field, including Ernie’s positive experiences as a dentalcorp Partner. Not one to jump too quickly into anything, Dan took his time, eventually joining the network himself at the start of this year.
“I am a lot more conservative than Ernie – it takes me longer to make a decision than he does. I didn’t take the decision lightly. I looked at a lot of different avenues, and dentalcorp ultimately ended up being the best one for me,” Dan explains.
Like Ernie, a key factor in Dan’s decision boiled down to retirement planning. “My retirement plan was to transition the practice in the best way I could think of and partnering with dentalcorp provided that path to retirement,” he says. “I thought about working until the end and selling it, but this way, I know where the path is going. In the next five years, I’ll be able to slow down a little, bring an Associate in, build up the practice a bit more, and fly into the sunset, so to speak.”
His decision was further cemented after hearing about the support his brother and fellow Partners received at the start of the pandemic when he, like many practice owners, was left scrambling. “I saw how well taken care of he was and that really sealed the deal for me,” he says.
When reflecting on their thriving careers, both brothers are immensely proud of the growth of their practices, and attribute much of their success to their patients and team members’ loyalty and openness to change.
“I am really proud of the way we’ve grown from two operatories on the second floor of a small building into four thriving practice locations. We couldn’t have done this without the incredible support of our team members,” Ernie says.
“I have a tremendous team, many of whom have been by my side for a long, long time. They are also very open and adaptive to change. We also have really great patients who have stuck by us throughout the years. I am very proud of our retention,” adds Dan.
While they’ve both experienced a lifetime of success, they still hope to accomplish much more.
“I still have goals. I plan to continually invest in new tools and technologies for my practices and teams to continue to grow,” Ernie says.
Dan echoes, “My goal moving forward is to see continued success with my practice as we develop our partnership with dentalcorp and be able to leave it in five years knowing that my patients and staff are in good hands and well cared for.”