Q&A With Dr. Michael Moriarty, DDS
It’s often said that people make the place, and we couldn’t agree more. Our new spotlight series introduces you to Seward Chamber of Commerce members who make our community an incredible place to live, work and play.
We recently sat down with Dr. Moriarty to find out more about his journey to become Seward’s dentist.
How long have you lived in Seward? What first brought you here?
I moved here in 1991 and worked as an associate under Dr. Warren Huss, until I purchased the practice in 2004. I’m an outdoorsman; I loves to fish and hunt and I like the cold! The Alaska climate and culture were a good match for a guy from South Dakota.
What do you like most about living and working in Seward?
Seward is a great place to raise a family and to be a part of the community. Our children have been raised by a village; the community is warm and welcoming. We were part of a babysitting co-op that also went on hikes and other adventures together. As for work, I get great pleasure in seeing someone smile!
What makes your business special or unique? In other words, what are you known for?
We’re known for exceptional quality work, a conservative approach that focuses on our patients’ needs and a friendly, professional environment. I tell people all the time that I wouldn’t recommend any treatment that I wouldn’t perform on my own mother. We’re also known for being a happy place – we try to stay upbeat and make people smile and laugh.
Tell us about a product or service that you’re particularly proud of.
We provide custom-made mouthguards to local athletes at an extreme discount regardless of whether the athlete is a patient. Our focus is on saving teeth.
What is the best compliment your business has ever received?
Due to HIPPA regulations, I can’t give specifics, but several times I’ve been educating a patient about a particular topic specific to their situation and they’ve told me no dentist had ever told them that. The fact that I can give people insight into their dental care and make a difference in their lives is a huge compliment. It’s also heartwarming when patients move away from the area and they tell me that their new dentist has complimented them on the work I’ve done in their mouths. Gordon Christenson, a well-known dentist and advocate in the industry, has also complimented my work which means a lot to me.
What would people be surprised to learn about your business or your journey as a business owner?
We invest 5%-10% of our profits back in to the community that has been so good to us over the years.
Describe a risk that you’ve taken in your business that paid off.
Hiring assistants with no experience! I believe it’s easier to teach people the technical side of dentistry than to teach them how to treat people. So I’ve always hired employees for their work ethic and customer service skills, regardless of their knowledge in the field.
What advice would you give to a new business owner who is working to build a business like yours?
It’s cliche, but I built my business on giving my best and doing what’s right for the patient.
Tell us about a community member in Seward who you admire.
It’s hard to pick one person, so I’ll pick an organization. We are so impressed with the Seward Community Foundation and its support of so many projects and organizations in Seward.
How do you spend your free time?
I spend my free time with family, hunting and fishing.
Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?
My wife and I enjoy walking along the boardwalk and down the bike path along the waterfront. We usually run into friends, meet tourists, catch a glimpse of wildlife, watch the boats enter and exit the harbor or just enjoy the peace and beauty of Seward.
There are so many great wilderness areas to explore around Seward and Kenai Fjords. If you had a free weekend, where would you go?
It depends, if it’s fishing season, I like to be on the water dropping a line. If it’s hunting season, you’ll see me hiking up Mt. Alice or the Jeep Trail.