Springfield, MO

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General manager at Mid America Dental, Hearing & Vision Center and Mid America Dental Clinic, both in Mt. Vernon, and Mid America Hearing Center in Branson. George is a board-certified hearing instrument specialist. "Patients come from across the United States, some in their RVs, to use our services." The dental practices, owned by J. Warren Hildreth, DDS, and the hearing and vision practices have on-site labs so that many services, such as dentures, hearing aids and glasses, are same-day service, George said. Recent service expansions include implants, orthodontics and programmable hearing aids. Mid America Dental Clinic was established in 1979, offering same-day dentures at reasonable fees. Other services were added, including all types of general dentistry. Mid America Hearing Center, which began in 1988, pioneered the same-day $195 hearing aid. Mid America Vision Center was added in 1991. In 1994, the hearing practice opened a Branson office. The dental practice acquired a second Mt. Vernon location in 1997. The Mt. Vernon facilities offer free RV parking for patients. George came in 1991 to manage the operations. George is affiliated with the National Association of Dental Labs, Missouri Hearing Society and International Hearing Society, National Federation of Independent Business (Missouri vice chair), National Small Business United, the 1998 Congressional Small Business Summit (delegate), SBA Regulatory Fairness Board (Region VII, vice chair), Mt. Vernon Rotary (past president), and Mt. Vernon Industrial Development Corporation (director).

Age: 48.

No. of years in Springfield/area: Has lived in southwest Missouri for 29 years.

Education: Graduated from Trinity Lutheran School, in Freistatt; Mt. Vernon High School; and Missouri School of Mines/University of Missouri-Rolla with a bachelor of science degree in computer science in 1972.

Early career: Worked for 15 years in information services in insurance, nuclear energy, and oil and gas exploration before joining Carolina Power and Light in 1987. CP&L was implementing Total Quality programs. Thus, as manager for project services at the Brunswick Power Station, George was able to learn to use these tools and techniques effectively. At Mid America, he has found that these techniques work across industry boundaries. "Particularly, develop win-win relationships with co-workers, vendors and customers; use Parado analysis (80/20 rule) and Force Field Analysis for decision making, and focus on 'What happened; not, who did it.'"

Current projects: The dental practice is doing an operatory makeover to improve service and efficiency while adding implants and orthodontics. The hearing center is adding programmable hearing aids with same-day service. Vision is implementing a basic eyeglass package similar to the other departments. Also, the company has installed a new computer system and network with chair-side patient scheduling. George is also working on a a petition drive to sunset the IRS tax code and replace it with a "simpler, fairer system," he said. Next year's projects will include one to ensure that internal operations and external vendors are ready for business Jan. 2, 2000, and potential expansion to other locations.

Management philosophy: MBWA (Manage by Walking Around), listen to patients and co-workers for the best ideas to improve operations. Focus on what happened to improve business operations rather than who did it. Define business requirements of what needs to be done before trying to determine how to do it. "This latter technique has led to many successful project implementations."

Spare-time pursuits: Cooking, golf, Internet, and working on small-business issues at the state and national level.

Family data: Wife Charlotte is accounting manager at Mid America and chair of the Mt. Vernon Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Daughter Cheryl is an osteopath interning at Freeman in Joplin, planning to enter family practice in Mt. Vernon after her residency. Son Brian is in the restaurant business in Raleigh, N.C. The Georges also have two "delightful grandchildren," George said.

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