Dr. James “Greg” White is an orthodontist, entrepreneur, restaurateur and philanthropist. Over the past six years, the practice of White, Greer and Maggard has donated $1.3 million to specific projects, with $700,000 of it going to school systems in central Kentucky and a half-million to other organizations.
“These are the things we’re involved in,” White said. “Some involve our patients and some don’t, but all of it involves community.”
The orthodontics practice has made charitable contributions since 1991, but it was in 2005 that adding a philanthropic component to the business was “very intentional,” according to White.
“We realized the more we became involved with people, the more people became involved with us,” he said.
The majority of the practice’s marketing budget is earmarked for the organizations moms are passionate about, including schools, extracurricular activities and churches. Aside from the company’s namesakes, almost all other staff members are women, and most of them are mothers.
“I see what moms do,” White said. “It is an unbelievably difficult schedule to manage.”
Rather than purchase an ad in a program or on a website, White finds it far more beneficial to sit down and have a meeting with the president of a local sports league, a school principal or the head of a PTA.
“It’s a one-on-one process,” he said. “I want to see that need face to face.”
The practice has purchased uniforms for soccer teams, smartboards for classrooms, basketball goals for an elementary school and customized take-home folders for 50 local schools. For the July Fourth weekend in 2011, White’s Beaumont office hosted an outdoor party with hot-air balloon rides and face painting for anyone who showed up. About 2,500 people did.
“There are so many distractions for kids now that move them away from activity,” White said. “Just play.”
Many families have children attending different schools and participating in various activities, so chances are good that those parents will see several examples of White, Greer and Maggard sponsorships. White hears comments from his young patients’ parents almost daily, in the form of “we’re here because of this.”
The practice has six offices in Lexington (Beaumont and Hamburg), Danville, Georgetown, Nicholasville and Richmond. With the blessing and support of partners Dr. Jim Greer and Dr. Michael “Brent” Maggard, White handles the practice’s charitable disbursements. Each of the partners has four children, and all are in agreement of supporting organizations that benefit moms and kids. It is marketing coordinator Alyssa Vance’s full-time job to field 15 to 25 requests per day.
“I feel like Santa Claus,” she said. A combination of Santa and elf, that is, with lots of spreadsheets and cell phone reminders to help her keep track of everything. And yes, sometimes the answer to a request is no.
“They know what I’m going to say yes to or not,” White said of the in-house marketing department. “There are tons of organizations we would love to be involved with, but they are not really within the scope of who we are as a practice.”
When too many people are involved with decision-making, it’s too easy for time and money to be wasted. White receives a lot of ideas, then takes it to committee and makes a decision.
“The most effective committees are made up of an odd number of people, less than three,” he said.
Among other entrepreneurial ventures over the past 17 years, White is also the owner of four Fazoli’s restaurants and several of his own concept — Harvey’s Grill & Bar, Hayden’s Grill & Bar and Freakin’ Unbelievable Burgers — located in Michigan.
“Some people have a calling,” White said. It is his opinion that people who open restaurants aren’t called but lured.
“Like a fish biting bait,” he said.
Fun and positive attitudes are rampant throughout the orthodontics practice, and employee retention is good. The doctors honor staff members with a David Yuman bracelet at the 10-year anniversary mark. Out of a staff of 75, 20 have received that particular piece of jewelry. Forty employees have been with the practice more than five years.
For new hires, White conducts the final interview and lays out his three steps to success: believing that the work you do is important, being mature by putting other people’s needs ahead of your own, and having a passion to leave any organization you enter better because you were there.
“It’s not about punching keystrokes or sterilizing instruments,” he tells new employees. “You have the opportunity to have a positive impact on every person you meet. Your primary job is to make everyone feel special. What you do technically is aside from that.”
By practicing what he preaches and focusing on doing things for other people, White has seen a pretty nice return on investment for the practice’s philanthropy.
“Once we started giving, it was amazing how much we started receiving,” he said.
Learn more about White, Greer and Maggard Orthodontics at www.wgmortho.com.