Sixty-year industry veteran Harry Carlisle considers himself extra lucky for stumbling upon on a career in dental technology.
Harry Carlisle joined the Navy in 1952, at age 17, during the Korean War. He wanted to join a construction battalion but was told it would be difficult to get in so, instead, he chose dental technology school. He was sent to Parris Island Marine Base in South Carolina followed by the prosthetics school at the U.S. Navy Training Center, Bainbridge, in Maryland.
After leaving the military, Carlisle found a mentor and friend in Lab Owner Nelson Ingersoll. Carlisle credits Ingersoll with making him the C&B technician he is today because Ingersoll pushed him to try new things and create prosthetics he thought impossible to fabricate. "I learned I could do things I never thought I could do," Carlisle says.
In 1972, Carlisle opened his own lab in his home, Carlisle Porcelain Studio, in Freeport, IL, and business boomed. At its peak, his one-man lab received 80 units a day. "I would work 35 or 40 hours straight without leaving the lab," Carlisle says. The pace caught up with him. After a battle with pneumonia, Carlisle began scaling back and, in 1986, decided to partner exclusively with two of his dentist-clients. Today, at age 76, he still works with the son of one of those dentists and work is steady. "I love everything about this business. I love the lab. I love the smells," he says of his life's work. "It gets in your blood."
Looking back on the last 60 years, Carlisle is happy with his life's work. He recently got the chance to share the story of his accidental career when he was interviewed by the Freeport Journal Standard, his hometown newspaper. As he told the reporter, "I get up each morning, get my coffee and head to the studio; it's where I want to be. It's been almost 60 years with this accidental career and it turned out to be the perfect fit."