Dental Depot has many incredible team members in our offices who make an impact on the lives of our patients, but who helps all of those team members when something goes wrong? As you might have read last week on the blog, there’s an entire support and leadership team that ensures our offices have what they need.
And while most of the team members we feature on our blog and social media channels work in the offices with patients, this month we’re honoring one of the people whose work behind the scenes keeps all of our teams in working order: Sean “Raz” Ackman.
Raz, a desktop support specialist, works as part of our four-man IT team. He and the IT team manage more than 500 computers, not to mention phones, printers and other devices. But Raz hasn’t always worked in IT, in fact, he’s only been at Dental Depot since August 2017.
“I worked in retail for about ten years, from when I was 16 and got my first job at Target in Edmond, and from then on it was just retail place after retail place,” Raz said. “I moved a lot so I just kept picking up retail jobs where I could.”
Retail was unfulfilling for him, to say the least, but Raz found enjoyment in a hobby known as Dagorhir, or “Dag” for short. Inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, a group of college students in the 1970s formed a combat sport that combined history and fantasy. It’s the oldest live-action role-play (LARP) organization in the United States and combines elements of combat, role-play and crafting. Make no mistake though, Dagorhir is a full-contact sport where players use both melee and ranged weapons in large scale battles.
“I started doing [Dag] right around the end of my high school years and just never stopped. It’s fun and it’s very active,” Raz said. “You go out onto the field and you fight. After, you hang out and have a good time.”
It’s through Dagorhir that Raz has met some of his best friends, known interchangeably by their own nicknames within the Dag community; Jared “Gorbag” Tremor, Kay “Rhia” Peek and Nathan “Wolf” Hedrick, among others.
“I’ve known each of them for about ten years. Jared joined the same time I did, but in Texas, and we met at a day event in Oklahoma,” Raz recalled. “We were friends right from the beginning. We’ve been through thick and thin together.”
In fact, it was through his friendships in Dagorhir that Raz discovered IT was the career field he wanted to go into.
“A friend of mine, Rhia, she did IT work for a hospital and she told me about it and all of the stuff she gets to do,” Raz said. “I thought it sounded fun and I was still trying to find my way. A year or so later I was working at Norman Computers.”
IT makes sense to Raz. He likes working with his hands and enjoys fixing things. He said if he hadn’t chosen IT, he most likely would have pursued a career as a mechanic.
“Then I met this fascinating individual by the name of Andrew Wetmore [IT Manager at Dental Depot] through a mutual friend when we took a road trip to the Scarborough Renaissance Festival,” Raz said. “We started talking a lot more and things fell into place and they had an opening.”
Because of the nature of IT, it didn’t matter that Raz hadn’t pursued higher education, it all boiled down to intuition and field work.
“I never really had the desire to go to college. It was never financially feasible and I realized it was never going to be worth it for me,” Raz said. “I think I can get as far as I want in my career field without a formal education. That’s sort of the beauty of IT when you get down to it: value is based on experience rather than education.”
“They interviewed me and uh, here I am,” Raz laughed. “It was funny because Andrew did everything in his power to get me started before everything was processed and HR would not let him.”
The transition from consumer IT to corporate IT was a welcome transition for Raz. And dental IT gets even more nuanced with software like Eaglesoft and Patterson, delicate equipment and large vendors.
“The things that are similar are what’ll shock you the most. You still get the same kind of person who just says, ‘My computer doesn’t work,’ and that’s it,” Raz said. “But then you look at it and it’s working. But, that’s people.”
For the time being, Raz is content with where he is in the company. And the small size of his team means that he’s able to expand his duties beyond just solving technical difficulties and installing new equipment.
“If there’s a project that nobody is heading up, I’ll just do it because somebody needs to,” Raz said. “A lot of people could play the Devil’s Advocate, but it comes down to how you do it.”
“You’ve heard of the Yes Man, it’s a common trope, but saying yes to everything doesn’t necessarily help,” Raz explained. “I’ve had managers and leaders respect me more for disagreeing and explaining why, rather than just doing it their way and hoping it works.”
“It helps to have a differing opinion or an outside perspective that you might not think of otherwise,” Raz said. “I think you need to find the holes in the armor.”
And speaking of his own armor, now that Raz has what he jokingly refers to as a “big boy job,” he’s able to further develop his hobbies and make upgrades to the equipment he’s using. He’s even helping lead a weeklong Dagorhir event called Dark Tides, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this April.
“When I started moving around and money became more of an issue, it became harder and harder to get to these events,” Raz said. “It’s different being in one place for more than a year. I was always kind of go-with-the-wind. It’s weird not having to worry, but it’s nice. That’s for sure.”
When he’s not at work, Raz enjoys traveling to Medieval and Renaissance Fairs in the Midwest (sometimes with Andrew in tow) and helping to plan Dark Tides. His weapon of choice, if you’re wondering, is the bow. To keep him active when he’s not at a Dag event, Raz plays airsoft with a group in the Historic Stockyards. And when it’s inclement, he enjoys staying in and playing videogames and watching movies.
And if you’re wondering how he came to be known as Raz, well, it’s the name he goes by in Dagorhir. As for what it means, he says, he’d prefer to leave it a mystery.
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 March, we are proud to shine a spotlight on Employee of the Month Sean “Raz” Ackman.