Mary Waldron, BS, MA
Westwind Dental Designs, Big Rapids, MI
Years in industry: 37
Lab opened: 2011
Talk about a view. Westwind Dental Designs, owned by Mary Waldron, BS, MA, is located on Waldron's 90-acre property—a former dairy farm—and is surrounded by grassy fields, ponds and wildlife such as geese, deer and even an occasional eagle.
The lab is located 100 yards from Waldron's home in a 2,400-sq-ft barn custom-built by Waldron's husband. The lab occupies about one-third of the barn; the rest of the building houses Waldron's pottery studio and her husband's equipment for his log-cutting hobby. The view inside isn't too shabby either: the barn features tall ceilings, pine beams, decorative tile and creature comforts like radiant floor heating.
But the lab's rural location doesn't mean it isn't a high-tech operation. Waldron—who opened the sole proprietorship in January 2011—uses a Dental Wings scanner to design her cases and outsources the milling. "Right off the bat, I knew I wanted a scanner in my lab," says Waldron, a former dental technology instructor who researched various systems by networking with other lab owners and going to trade shows. "My scanner allows me to put in my desired parameters, is very accurate and cuts my labor in half."
With a firm handle on digital technology, Waldron's biggest challenge is marketing. When she first opened the business, she spent about 50% of her time going door to door, producing marketing literature, sending postcards and even creating her own website. "Besides investing in a scanner, marketing has been my second biggest expense," she says. Luckily, her efforts are paying off: she now has six regular clients and is looking to add just two more.
Be sure to check out the profiles below of 9 other home-based laboratories whose owners are proud of their businesses and eager to show off their facilities.