The IT Man: Reflections with
What started out as a summer job in high school has turned into a decade-long career with Dental Depot for Director of IT, Ryan Martin. While today marks his 9th anniversary as a full time team member, he’s been with the company for a lot longer. We sat down to discuss Ryan’s history with Dental Depot and his goals moving forward for himself and his department. Congratulations, Ryan!
DD: How did you get started at Dental Depot?
RM: I started under Nick [Richardson], who is the director of facilities. His son was my friend in high school – and he’s still my friend now – but anyways, I just started working for the shop as contract labor. There was a lot of stuff I did, a lot of properties that Dr. Glenn [Ashmore] used to own that we would go to and clean them out after tenants left. It was a lot of fun.
I did that as my summer job for two or three years, and then at some point Nick mentioned to one of the directors at the time that, ‘Hey, Ryan knows stuff about IT.’ They interviewed me and gave me a test. They liked what they saw so I started working – still a contractor at that point – and it took about a year for me to become fulltime.
DD: So you’ve actually been around a lot longer than nine years?
RM: Technically speaking, I’ve been fulltime for nine years. I graduated high school in ’07, so I want to say I started with Nick and the facilities team in 2004.
DD: Did you anticipate when you started that you would still be here?
RM: No! [laughs] I really didn’t, but everybody that was ever in charge of me was super flexible and I liked that about it.
DD: So how did you get started in IT?
RM: IT the area I wanted to study. I’ve always had an interest in computers and I had a knack for figuring things out. I was able to pick it up quickly, so I decided to choose that for my path. So far it’s worked out. But no, I didn’t expect this. I was just a normal IT guy. Eventually they brought on the first IT director, he was a good boss to me, and I learned a good amount from him.
I moved to marketing for a little while, but it was mostly analytics. I did post formats for marketing campaigns to determine how effective they were, and in the midst of it, I started to learn more about development. Now with that experience, as the director of IT now, I was able to build that application that everyone uses.
DD: Yes, the insurance verification software makes such a big difference for our team members and for patients – especially those seen as walk-ins on Saturdays. It allows us able to check their benefits right then and there to see how much their insurance can help them without having to schedule them back for treatment.
So, how long have you been the director of IT?
RM: I want to say it’s been three years now, maybe more?
DD: What’s your team dynamic like in your department?
RM: It’s nice. They express things about what they experience in the offices, which is good because I can change certain things based off of that – or not change things. Andrew [Wetmore], I’ve been working with him for a while. Raz [Ackman] and Zach [Robinson], they’re all still growing and they all seem to be interested in learning more and doing better. My hope is they follow a similar path to mine. They’re a good team.
DD: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your change in Dental Depot?
RM: The growth plan is definitely continuing to multiply. Next year we’re wanting to do five offices, which, I don’t think we’ve done that many in a year yet. Of course, the execs have changed – but the dynamic of Dental Depot has stayed the same. It’s a very unique place to be, and that’s hard for me to say because I’ve been here my whole life, but this is a pretty unique place.
DD: What has been your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
RM: Mainly the [insurance verification] program that we talked about. It started out as a basic form with one button in the middle, and its grown it through probably 100 different revisions at this point. It’s a continuous project, it’s never going to stop. I have plans to change it into more web-based program, rather than an application on the computer. I’m trying to follow the trend of shifting into the cloud, it’s easier for a lot of different reasons. It’s taking what I’ve learned and translating it for our needs.
DD: What are your professional goals going forward with the department and for yourself?
RM: My goals are to move that system to a web-based program and to help grow my other employees. Zach has been slowly but surely able to take more off of my plate as far as development goes. That’s a big goal for us, working on that development with him. I want to get Andrew more involved with higher-end topics like planning the deployments at these new offices. Mainly I want to keep things as efficient as possible so we consolidate as much as possible. One of my biggest goals is removing as many servers as we can and consolidating those. Next, we need to come up with a game plan for our partner offices, because they are in need of some updates.
DD: So what are some of the things you like to do in your free time?
RM: I spend about an hour everyday working out. I’ve been trying to lose weight and I’ve been doing that this whole year, really. I’ve lost almost 50 pounds. It’s been tough though. Other than that, I like to hang out with my wife and the kids. We’ll go out and go to parks and have a good time.
DD: That’s very impressive! Are there any other stories that come to mind you’d like to share?
RM: I think if I was to mention anything is the experience I had at the South OKC office a long time ago – this was when I was still a tech – I was running wire in the middle of the day on a ladder and I fell in the middle of the lobby. I think they were able to see the video footage of it and everybody was replaying it for weeks. I hurt my ankle a little bit but it wasn’t bad. It only took about a week or so for my ankle to recover; my pride is forever damaged [laughs].