Dentist Matthew Cripe is among the proud Dowagiac graduates who returned to their hometown, following college graduation, to open their practice here. This summer his career marks 29 years, as he now serves the two communities of Dowagiac and Niles.
“Right out of school, I bought Dr. Neff’s practice,” Dr. Cripe said. There, they worked side by side for three years. Then, after 59 years in business, Dr. Neff retired in August 1993.
As Dr. Cripe looks back on those early years, he fondly recalls it was Dr. Neff and his father, who recommended he join the Chamber, which he did his very first day. In 1995 and 1996, Dr. Cripe went on to serve as president of the organization.
“Near the end of the 1990s, when we were all challenged with the unknown of the upcoming Y2K, in 1999 I built and moved to my new office, and upgraded all of my equipment, including computers,” Dr. Cripe said. “Over the years, in addition to unending learning and implementing of new materials and procedures, we have incorporated digital X-rays, diode lasers, intraoral cameras, dental implants, braces, veneers, CEREC crowns and we became a paperless office, where all of our records are computerized.”
In response to the national economy plummeting, in 2008 with fewer patients coming through his doors, Dr. Cripe reduced his office hours in 2011, while also providing a helping hand at the Cass / Van Buren Health Department. He worked there and at his private office until 2016, when he bought a second practice in Niles.
While technology allows Dr. Cripe to do amazing things to help his patients, he said he would not be surprised to see enhancements to dental treatment with the addition of artificial intelligence and genetic techniques. While he is always looking to new advancements within his field, Dr. Cripe holds his professional roots dear to his heart. Within the basement of his Dowagiac office, he maintains a dental museum, where he has assembled items given to him from such previous Dowagiac dentists as Dr. Essix, Dr. Berry, Dr. Neff, Dr. Burke and Dr. Schuster.
Looking back on his 29-year career, Dr. Cripe said, “I couldn’t have done it without my wonderful staff. They’re the ones who really make this business all it can be.”
“I also owe a great debt of gratitude to all of my patients over the years,” Dr. Cripe said. “Each one has honored me with respect and confidence for my professional career. I don’t think anyone could possibly ask for more from their world of work. So far it’s been a lot of fun and we are ready for many more years to come!”