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Patterson Dental Supply's Fargo branch celebrates 100 years in business and new headquarters

"Patterson Dental supplies everything from the moment you walk into your dental office. From the software they check you in on to the chair you sit on that goes up and down, to the X-ray machine and the bib you wear, to the instruments like drills they use in your mouth. Even the toothbrush pack you get as you leave, we supply it all," said Operations Manager Leah Dalton.

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Leah Dalton is the business manager at Patterson Dental in south Fargo. David Samson / The Forum
Forum Communications Co.

FARGO — Readers may not be familiar with Patterson Dental Supply, but many have benefited from the business that's been serving dentists here since 1921.

Operations Manager Leah Dalton has perfected an "elevator speech" she gives to people unfamiliar with her employer.

"Patterson Dental supplies everything from the moment you walk into your dental office. From the software they check you in on to the chair you sit on that goes up and down, to the X-ray machine and the bib you wear, to the instruments like drills they use in your mouth. Even the toothbrush pack you get as you leave, we supply it all," Dalton told The Forum Thursday, Oct. 28.

Patterson Dental also employs service technicians who install, repair and maintain the equipment they sell.

Dr. Todd DeBates with South University Dental Associates in Fargo has been a customer for over 30 years. He said he sources "a very large percentage, if not all" of his dental supplies and equipment from Patterson Dental.

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While he appreciates that the business is a one-stop shop, he said their customer service is what keeps him coming back.

"Their biggest selling point is just their service and the way they get things done," DeBates said. "Their service from the top to the bottom has been great. I could give you names, but they all do such a good job."

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Patterson Dental in south Fargo is celebrating their 100th year in business. David Samson / The Forum
Forum Communications Co.

100 years and counting

Patterson Dental got its start when founders John and Myron Fayette (M.F.) Patterson purchased a Milwaukee drugstore in 1877. According to the company website, "the enterprising brothers soon added dental and surgical supplies to their regular stock of medicines, extracts, toiletries, brushes, perfumes and soaps."

M.F. Patterson acquired the dental interests of the business in 1891 and relocated the company to St. Paul.

Today, Patterson has 59 branches across the country, as well as the U.K. and Canada.

The Fargo branch, which serves customers in North Dakota and parts of South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Montana and Nebraska, is currently celebrating its 100th year in business.

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Employees, customers and the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce recently celebrated the milestone at Patterson's new 9,000-square-foot headquarters at 4821 45th St. S. in south Fargo.

Dalton credits General Manager Jared Bye for securing their new home.

"He was honestly the driving force of how we got into the new space. He just would not quit. We have this vision of being next-level for our customers and being able to support them. We couldn't do that in the space we had. He was so instrumental in getting this accomplished," she said.

The Patterson team had grown too big for their former home at 3321 4th Ave. S. in Fargo, said Dalton.

"In our old space we didn't have enough room for all of our employees to fit," Dalton said. "We'd have a sales team meeting and everyone was just crammed in there."

Rather than tall cubicles, the new headquarters offers an open floor plan, which Dalton said has helped a lot with collaboration.

She's also excited about the large conference room where they can offer continuing education classes for area dentists. The conference room is available for rent as well.

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Leah Dalton shows off some of the latest technology used to make at dental works at Patterson Dental in south Fargo. David Samson / The Forum
Forum Communications Co.

Going the extra mile

As a supplier of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment, Patterson Dental shifted into high gear when the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Fargo in the spring of 2020.

"PPE was always something that was required (in dental offices), but the demand went up for gloves, masks, etc. Other companies were calling us trying to get PPE as well," Dalton said.

They also secured new equipment designed to kill aerosols that spread the coronavirus when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.

Dalton is proud of the fact that Patterson Dental did not need to lay anyone off during the height of the pandemic.

"We were very fortunate," she continued. "Patterson didn't lay off a single person during COVID. We're very proud of that. ... We went into rotating furloughs, and then everyone all the way to the top, all the managers, took a salary decrease during that time period to help make sure we could keep everybody."

Dalton is also extremely proud of the Patterson Foundation, the company's philanthropic organization.

"If two or more employees volunteer for two hours or more at a nonprofit organization, Patterson will actually donate $100 each to that organization," she said.

Soon Patterson Dental will partner with the North Dakota Dental Foundation to assemble 10,000 toothbrush kits for children to be distributed through the Great Plains Food Bank.

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A dental equipment demonstration room is set up for customers at Patterson Dental in south Fargo. David Samson / The Forum
Forum Communications Co.

DeBates had high praise for Patterson's philanthropic efforts as well. He recently returned from Mission of Mercy, a two-day free dental clinic held last month in Bismarck. In addition to donating supplies, Patterson Dental service techs were on site to set up equipment and troubleshoot any problems.

"They do more than just help us dentists," he said. "They help the community, which is a nice thing."

Angie Wieck is the business editor for The Forum. Email her at awieck@forumcomm.com
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