Editor's Note: Each year, the Zachary Chamber of Commerce recognizes outstanding business leaders. This year, the chamber gained 73 new memberships and expanded the awards process to include four new categories and one redefined category. This the third in a series recognizing the business owners honored in these new categories. The third is the Emerging Business Award.
Growth, change and adaptation are the themes in the lives of husband-wife dental team Dr. Adriane White and Dr. David Carter. They got married the day historic flooding hit Zachary and in less than a year and a half, they have established a marriage, a business partnership, had a daughter and are in the final stages of merging their private practices into a one-stop shop for dental services.
The husband and wife business partners were given the Zachary Chamber of Commerce’s first Emerging Business Award. Their two practices, Blush Orthodontics and Impressive Smiles, have recently merged under one name, Smile Studio Family Dentistry and Orthodontics.
Chamber Executive Director Taylor Watts, who is also new to the area, said the growth and evolution of Zachary businesses facilitated a different way to look at new business and the category underwent some changes.
“I redefined it to allow more of my chamber members to be eligible,” Watts said. “My work with the chamber was new and finding its new legs and freshly emerging. I wanted all the new legs in business to have a chance for the Emerging Business award.”
The award acknowledges the business’ vigor, not just the length of time it has been established.
“Membership length shouldn't be a factor in what a new business has done in a short time in the community,” Taylor said.
Carter is not new to Zachary. He was born in Zachary.
White, from Jackson, Mississippi, is new to Zachary, but in a series of proposals, Carter wooed her into marriage, partnership and Zachary about the same time.
“You brought me here,” White tells Carter. “All he told me was it was the No. 1 school district in the state. That’s how you got me here.”
Carter felt going back to his roots would be good for his family and his business. He returned after living many places in Louisiana including Jackson, Clinton and Baton Rouge before moving to Centerville, Louisiana.
He did his undergraduate work at Alcorn State University and moved to Jackson, Mississippi, for dental school. He worked in a private practice in Baton Rouge and decided to move back to Zachary to start a family and his own practice.
“I knew it was a great place that was always growing,” Carter said.
White met Carter before they went through dental school together, and she recalls being quieter and focused on her career and, jokingly, said she was wary of all the charming, personable dentists-to-be who might be trying to find wives in dental school. She left for Washington, D.C., and a residency at Howard University. Carter proposed when she was in the first year of her residency program.
Carter’s planning kicked into high gear in summer 2016. They moved to Zachary, started work on turning business space into their practices and picked Aug. 12 to get married.
“We got married on the day of the flood,” Carter said.
White wanted to marry in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, so they were already out of Louisiana on the day, but some family members were turned back by high water. Carter said the car with his best friend and others was nearly swept away by water on the highway.
The ability to plan and adjust those plans as needed paid off for the business partners. Their primary contractor and all their subcontractors were flooded out, but the practice offices opened only a month-and-half behind schedule.
Scheduling has continued to be the make-or-break of the business and family life. Carter thinks working together saves some time when they are finally off the clock.
“After you have had a long day, you want to come home and relax,” Carter said. “Because she’s in the office, she kind of knows what’s happened, and I don’t have to give a whole recap of the day — so, it saves me a lot of talking.
"We spend time together during the day like grabbing lunch,” Carter said.
Time may be precious to medical professionals, but Carter and White carve out time for the community. The two are active in the chamber, Rotary Club and events such as the Relay for Life. Watts said the nomination sheets mentioned how much the business gives back to the community in the short time they have been in operation.
Giving back takes on a national perspective because Carter is a second lieutenant in the Army National Guard. He spends one weekend each month in Mississippi as a reservist and keeps a training schedule at other times of the year.
Carter said he thinks businesses can get out of their bubbles and do simple things to improve the lives of those around them. He also said his company especially reaches out to schools.
"If I can educate you and then you stop doing some of the things you do, it’s going to save you time and it’s going to save you money. Those are the two things that all we all try to save.
“Getting that message out in whatever setting, gives us a good feeling, communicates our message and helps the people in our community,” Carter said.