On the basketball court, Dr. Bill Chambers lived and followed the UNC philosophy to play smart, play hard, and play together. These efforts landed him an athletic scholarship at UNC, helped his Tar Heel squad to a 1971 NIT Championship–and in 1972, a Final Four bid in the NCAA tournament.
Now, a pediatric dentist and founder of Great Beginnings Pediatric Dental Specialists and Great Smiles Orthodontic Specialists, it’s clear this approach has stuck with Dr. Chambers, and that he values it enough to pass on to the next generation.
“All those traits ingrained in me as a player, we try to carry that forward in our business,” says Chambers, who started his practice in 1980, and at the time employed just one front desk employee, assistant, and hygienist.
At UNC, Chambers was recognized with the Foy-Robinson award, given to the hardest-working and team-oriented player. There’s no doubt he would’ve won this same award in dentistry, if it existed. He’s the first to arrive in the morning (besides the site manager) around 6 a.m. After a day packed with patients, he has meetings for several hours. Then he goes to the gym around 8 p.m. This routine means 12 to 14 hour work days, five days a week.
“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it…So from my perspective, you’ve just got to continuously work at it,” he said. “If you want to play the role, you’ve got to pay the toll.”
In building his practice, Chambers leads by example. He considers teamwork, punctuality, the pursuit of excellence, and a sense of family as the keys to success. Much like basketball, his practice grew day by day as he put in the work. Over the years, he saw the great need for quality pediatric dentistry in WNC and this motivated him to expand his practice to 5 locations, 8 doctors, and over 100 employees. He also gained two practice partners along the way, Dr. Ryan Haldeman and Dr. Douglas Pratt.
“I like creating something,” said Chambers. “If a person’s dental health isn’t established by the time they’re teenagers, they are fighting an uphill battle. I’d much rather take someone as a two-year old and help them develop the foundation for good teeth and good habits.”
His passion for coaching stems from this same concept. Years of experience make him a natural source of wisdom for his office staff, especially when it comes to the situations that can’t be learned in school. He’s also coached his three children to success–athletically and professionally. His oldest daughter Courtney excelled on the court at UNC. His son Will has worked at the practice for almost two years. And his youngest daughter Stephanie is the only woman in WNC with dual-training in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics.
“Someone had to help me when I was growing up, so it feels like I should do the same for others,” said Chambers, who also goes above and beyond to create success in the community.
In the late 1980’s, he joined the South Buncombe Youth League as an assistant coach. At the end of his first season, the program manager quit and offered Chambers the position. Fifteen years later, Chambers grew the program to include 72 teams and over 700 players. The success of this youth league also strengthened area high school programs.
“We developed the interest, skills, and talent for these kids, so when they got to high school, coaches didn’t have to create a player. The player had already been created”
At Great Beginnings, Chambers and his team continue to create lifelong foundations for young people. His vision and work ethic have transformed the community. And in the process, he’s changed the lives (and smiles) of many.
“I love what I do so it makes it easy,” he said. “I feel fortunate to find a sport and career that I have a great passion for.”