The lush, Texas-style,
Tuscan landscape surrounding Dr. Atul Masters’ Mansfield office signals a successful dental practice. And, indeed, the dark-haired, 54-year- old father of three, who lives in Arlington with his wife of 29 years, Hena, has succeeded by his own measures, he says – but that success has always involved family.
Masters’ oldest child, Natasha, 26, is a registered nurse, and his youngest, Sohan, is now 11. Jeeten, 21, attends the University of Texas Arlington and hopes to one day become a dentist as well.
Masters moved to the United States
from Zambia as a teen. Since graduating from UT Arlington and Baylor College of Dentistry, he has literally been living his dream. He says the motivation for his seemingly non-stop drive comes from genuinely loving what he does.
”[Dentistry] is my passion,” he says. “It’s something I can do. People may think ‘oh, I just had this filled.’ But to me, it’s like, I made them smile.”
The reflective thought causes Masters to flash a smile himself. “Sometimes, it’s not that patients are monetary,” he says. “When they leave with a smile on their face going out, I made a difference in their life. At that time, everything, it’s like, this is what I’m here for.”
Before acquiring the Walnut Creek Drive location nearly 10 years ago, Masters’ family dental practice consisted of a modest Arlington office on Park Row Drive near Cooper Street, as well as a Fort Worth location that he had remodeled and opened in 1999.
Masters, along with his staff, had cared for his Arlington patients’ dental needs since 1991. As his dental practice grew, he needed additional space in order to expand. He wanted to buy the property that he had leased in Arlington, but the owner was reluctant to sell.
About that time,
Mansfield had begun to boom. However, Masters says there were not a lot of businesses near the Walnut Creek location, other than the local Wal-Mart, and few dentists. Today, a quick look at the Mansfield Chamber of Commerce website reveals nearly 70 local dental care providers. The once sleepy city’s population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, according to U.S. Census records, and more than 60,000 people now call Mansfield home.
But Mansfield’s population is not the only number that is on the rise. According to city-data.com, the estimated, median income per household sits at about $51,000 statewide. However, the median pocketbook estimate for Mansfield households weighs in well above $90,000.
”[Mansfield] was a growing area,” Masters says. “People were moving in, and housing was developing. I was the first one to build in this Tuscan center.”
After purchasing the property for his Mansfield practice, Masters designed the building to feature an office and upscale waiting area in the front as well as five patient rooms along an interior hallway. His dental practice now consists of himself and 10 employees, including three hygienists and one part-time dentist, as well as dental staff.
But this tooth doctor does not view his coworkers as employees. “We work together as a family,” he says. “My success is through the staff. They reflect me. What they communicate in the front reflects me in the back.”
Masters is mindful
of the fact that part of his success came not only from truly loving and enjoying dentistry, but also from working with excellent staff members who not only educate patients but who also are equally committed to his success.
Another factor is that he does not perceive his dental practitioner job as work. “If I did, I’d be retired after 26 years,” he says.
Masters also offered up a few success tips for aspiring dentists. “It takes a lot of dedication,” he says. “You have to work hard and enjoy what you do.”
Overall, Masters says
his dental practice has been successful without the need for massive marketing efforts. Although some of his Arlington patients balked, others have followed him to his Mansfield location on Walnut Creek Drive.
“I built a solid foundation in [Mansfield] by building relationships in the community,” he says. “And patients trust me over here. I’m treating patients with the best dental treatment as I can.”
Dental assistants Bernice Ochoa and Trish Summers say their boss does not have many pet peeves, although he does dislike having to refer patients out for treatment, especially if he thinks they may not be able to afford it.
Office manager Angela Barrie says the fact that Masters does not have a high employee turnover rate speaks volumes, and some staff members have been at Walnut Creek Dental for nine or 10 years. “We’re really like a family,” she says. “We’ve been here together a long time.”
Barrie describes Masters as a fair boss with an open-door policy who always listens to input from his workers. She also says he is a hit with patients because he talks and jokes around with them, but she believes he is a workaholic.
Even though Masters relocated
his practice from its Arlington origins, he said the city will continue to be his home. Arlington’s centralized location between his Mansfield and Fort Worth dental offices make it easy for him to commute. Alternating between the two locations, Masters regularly puts in six-day work weeks. During his off time, he enjoys watching Texas Rangers baseball games with his son, as well as other sports, especially football. “If I have a day off, I usually go to the office and just see the building and walk back,” he says.
Masters says his colleagues would find that amusing, but when they ask him “did you come to the building?,” he nods and says matter-of- factly, “Yes. Yes I did.”