Gabriel “Gabe” Perez is what you might call a ladies man—surrounded by women both at work and at home. This father of four daughters makes a point to empower the many women around him. To this end, he values two things above everything else: family and education.
Growing up in Los Angeles, Gabe and his younger brother watched their parents work long, unforgiving hours. Their dad was a chef for two restaurants and their mom also worked in food service, but in the senior living industry. Both of their parents were putting in eighteen-hour days and often the brothers would only see their parents on the weekends.
When Gabe graduated from high school he was faced with the decision to either to go to school or start working. After seeing how hard his parents had to work, he chose school. Having always enjoyed going to the dentist, his curiosity about the field led him to California’s Concord Career Institute’s educational program for dental assisting.
“It was between this or being a medical assistant, and there were so many [medical assistants] at the time. I had a cousin who was a medical assistant, so I chose dental. There’s not a lot of males in dental assisting.” Gabe said.
Like many starting out in dental assisting, Gabe spent his first several years after graduation as a traveling dental assistant. He would wake up at 6 a.m. and not get home until after 8 p.m. And with the Los Angeles traffic, more of his time was spent on the road than actually helping patients. That sort of life certainly wasn’t what Gabe had in mind when he chose school over going straight into the workforce. He wanted more.
Then, while visiting family in Oklahoma, Gabe met the woman who would become his wife. Eventually, Gabe’s wife and her two young daughters joined him in California.
“Oklahoma was too slow. It felt like I was in a whole different world. It grows on you, but it only lasted eight months the first time around,” Gabe recalled. “We went back [to California] for a year, then came home [to Oklahoma]. She was homesick.”
They’ve been in Oklahoma five years now and Gabe has spent almost four of those with Dental Depot.
Gabe initially heard about Dental Depot through his former colleague, Dr. Kellie Ophus of our Norman office. Now, Gabe runs Dr. Christopher Haffner’s first chair at our South OKC office and learns as much as he can from the experienced doctor.
“It’s awesome. I’ve learned a lot,” Gabe said. “[Dr. Haffner] is very fast and efficient and he’s teaching me things, more than what I already knew. New tricks.”
“I like challenging cases, being able to do anterior cases and cosmetic work that would boost anybody’s morale,” Gabe said. “We had a patient come in with a severely decayed mouth and we were able to extract [the unhealthy teeth] and give her new dentures. Hearing her say she finally had teeth to eat with was really rewarding and satisfying.”
No matter what happens in the office though, Gabe is always ready to go home to his little girls. The girls are ages 11, 10 and six, and they recently had a fourth daughter, age one.
“My number one goal is to be a good dad. It took some time, I went from having nobody to ‘here you go’. It’s not easy, it’s tough.” Gabe said.
“Being able to spend time with them, being able to hear them say, ‘Oh daddy, we missed you’. Honestly, that’s what gets me, right there. Whatever stress I have, that right there just relieves it for me.”
Gabe sees furthering his education as the best way to provide for his daughters. He plans to go back to school to become either a hygienist or a dentist, once the girls are older. Gabe wants his girls to go even further — consistently reminding them that they need to pursue their own educations to be successful.
“If you want to work hard and make less, go for it.” Gabe said. “But if you want to work less and make more, school is the only way you’re going to do it.
“I want them [his daughters] to go to school and get a degree. Not just a four-year degree, something accomplished, something where they don’t have to depend on anybody.”
Now that the girls are a little older, Gabe is planning a trip next year to Disneyland. He’d give anything for his girls, but also makes sure they understand practical limits to the things they want — and always reinforces the need for education.
“I give them realistic situations. I tell them, ‘Look at us. We’re working hard. We’re doing fine. I know you want everything but money doesn’t grow on trees. You have to go to school. You have to get that degree.’” Gabe said.
It isn’t all work for Gabe and his girls though, they play board games together and do arts and crafts. He tries to be as involved as possible with his girls and constantly checks on them throughout the day.
Whatever he goes on to do, we know Gabe is a man with a plan and has the drive to succeed. And while we wish him all the best, we hope we are lucky enough to keep him as part of our team for years to come!
Gabe meets every other weekend for much-needed guy time, playing fantasy football and watching sports with his friends. He’s been a big Raiders fan since they played in Los Angeles, and he is currently 13-1 with his fantasy team.
Gabe also enjoys binge-watching TV shows such as Game of Thrones. We asked which character he relates to the most. “Probably the Hound. He’s straight to the point and takes care of business.”
Gabe was nominated for Employee of the Month by, Mari Delgado, manager of Dental Depot’s South OKC office, as well as several of his coworkers:
“Gabe is so much fun to work with. He helps with making the day go by smoothly. He is always willing to help even if he’s busy and always has a good humorous attitude.” –Elizabeth Maloy, a business office associate.
“He is wonderful with patients, explains everything so well. Always willing to help when needed. You can tell he loves what he does and does it with a smile.” –Tiffany Torres, a patient care coordinator.
“Gabe is great at his job. Patients love him, especially the kids. He’s very funny” — Christine Wall, RDH.
“Gabe shows a caring heart towards the patients and is very professional.” –Taselia Mace, patient care coordinator.
Dental Depot is a locally owned and operated family company. As such, we believe that the incredible group of doctors, hygienists, assistants and staff that make up Dental Depot are more than their job titles; they’re members of our extended family. In our family, we like to recognize when someone goes above and beyond, living the Dental Depot values. This December, we are proud to shine a spotlight on Employee of the Month Gabe Perez.