Our History

 

Through the succession of Burkhart family members and many dedicated lifetime employees, Burkhart Dental Supply has grown to realize true success in every element of what we bring to our clients.

In 1888, Burkhart's founder, Dr. William E. Burkhart, recognized the need for supplying the emerging Pacific Northwest and the growing dental community with dental supplies. He entered into a partnership with an old friend, Dr. Cyrus Van Winter, from Marshalltown, Iowa. Within a short time, the two enterprising dentists started the Tacoma Dental Depot, the forerunner to Burkhart Dental Supply, and opened their door for business at the Mason Block Build in Tacoma, Washington.

By 1890, Dr. Burkhart was recognized in Spikes magazine as supplying a "complete outfit of the most modern appliances for the practice of his profession." Drawing upon previous experience as a printer and editorial staff member of the Archives of Dentistry, Burkhart decided to publish his own dental journal targeting the Northwest.

The first journal, published in 1891, titled the "Pacific Dental Journal", afforded a means for supplying dental professionals with shared remedies and treatments for their patients while advertising the most recent and innovative products available.

On November 9, 1891, the Tacoma Dental Depot's name was changed to Burkhart Dental Supply and incorporated two years later when Washington became a state. In October of 1893, Dr. Burkhart started and served as the President of the Tacoma College of Dental Surgery. Burkhart taught operative dentistry and remained President through 1895. In 1898, the College was moved to Portland, Oregon and became the University of Oregon, School of Dentistry, known today as Oregon Health Sciences University School of Dentistry. From the late 1890's to the early 1900's, the company experienced unprecedented growth and change. Sometime between 1903 and 1905, Dr. Burkhart retired from his dental practice and turned his full attention to the company.

Through many years and generations of the Burkhart family, the company continued to grow and thrive. The following timeline is a glimpse into some of the critical events that occurred at the company:

  • 1910: William’s son, Archie Burkhart, begins working for the company.
  • 1937: William Burkhart passes away.
  • 1945: Archie dies unexpectedly at 53. His sons return home from WWII and Everett is named President while Perry Sr. is named Vice President and Treasurer.
  • 1956: Yakima, Washington branch opens.
  • 1968: Burkhart has 32 employees in Tacoma, a branch office in Yakima, and a region that supplied all of Washington, Alaska and part of Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
  • 1974: Perry Burkhart Jr. begins working for the company as Territory Account Manager and Equipment Specialist; Spokane, Washington branch opens.
  • 1978: Burkhart implemented a computer system that facilitated continued expansion.
  • 1979: Anchorage, Alaska branch opens.
  • 1984: Perry Sr. retires and Perry Jr. assumes the position of President and Burkhart has $13 million in annual sales; Portland, Oregon branch opens.
  • 1990: Burkhart opens a new branch location in Denver, Colorado.
  • 1991: Additional Growth requires a larger corporate facility with additional warehouse space and Burkhart moves to a 36,000 square foot complex with corporate management offices, a distribution center and a service department.
  • 1992: Computer laptops are issued to all Burkhart Account Managers to support accurate order entry and a purchasing history for every account.
  • 1993: Branches open in Phoenix, Arizona; Union City and Sacramento, California.
  • 1998: Burkhart purchases Reeve Dental that includes branches in Dallas, Texas; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; and a distribution center in Dallas, Texas.
  • 1999: Branch opens in Houston, Texas.
  • 2000: Burkhart purchases Practice Leadership Center, in Portland, Oregon, to help support their clients in practice management services; Lori Burkhart Isbell joins Burkhart as the Customer Service Manager.
  • 2001: Salt Lake City, Utah branch opens.
  • 2004: A third distribution center is added in Reno, Nevada and the company grows to $117 million in annual sales; Las Vegas, Nevada branch opens; Burkhart wins “Best in the Northwest” Washington Family Business of the Year from the Family Enterprise Institute.
  • 2006: Perry Jr. retires, bringing the fifth generation of Burkhart family leadership to the company through current President, Lori Burkhart Isbell; branches open in Boise, Idaho; and Austin, Texas.
  • 2007: Burkhart opens a new distribution center in Lakewood, Washington.
  • 2008: The company exceeds sales of $150 million.
  • 2010: Burkhart is recognized as Small Business of the Year by Customer Service Institute of America (CSIA).
  • 2012: Voted one of Seattle Magazine's Top 100 companies to Work For.

The proud legacy of William Everett Burkhart lives on with the successive generations of Burkhart family leadership. William's son, Archie, perpetuated the business, while his sons, Everett and Perry Sr., expanded the company. Perry Sr.'s son, Perry Jr., brought great innovation, foresight and growth. Now, over a century later, Perry Jr.'s daughter, Lori Burkhart Isbell, continues the tradition of the family-owned and operated business with great vision and a focus on the exceptional client experience.