Sally McKenzie, the Founder of McKenzie Management and a leader in the nation's dental practice management field, passed away unexpectedly on September 1 at her home in Tarpon Springs, Florida. She leaves a void that will not easily be filled, as Sally dedicated her career of more than 50 years in dentistry to improving the profession and advancing the cause of women as owners of dental businesses. For more than a decade, Sally was the publisher of The New Dentist, opening the door, so that countless young dentists could be heard.
Born in Barnesville, Ohio to a mother who worked as a dental assistant, Sally began working for a dental office at age 16. Two days after her high school graduation she began her first career as a dental assistant. At age 25, she taught dental assisting at a vocational program in the public schools of Columbus, Ohio. By age 30 she started her first business, an employment agency for women dental professionals. Her true business passion, her second business, McKenzie Management, spanned more than thirty years and thousands of dental offices she helped to advance in personnel management and profitability.
A true task master who frequently described her business with “This is my special sauce: we can do better,” Sally was known to be a hard bargaining negotiator who would remind her adversaries, “Your word is all you have in life.” She spoke frequently of the lessons she learned from the friends she counted as her trusted mentors in business: Phil Bonner, Howard Farran, Bete Johnson, and Hugh Dougherty.
As Bete Johnson said of Sally, “I will be forever grateful I got more than a glimpse of a powerful woman who pulled herself up from nothing to everything. She was a life force. When Sally entered a room, there was no question a woman worth meeting had arrived.”
Sally's career can best be summed up in her own words, taken from a letter she wrote rejecting an offer to sell control of her business. “After careful review, consideration, and paying attention to my "gut," I am respectfully declining the proposal on one very important premise: I am an independent minded business woman. This is what made me successful. This is what makes me the happiest."
Sally McKenzie leaves her beloved brother Thom Bennett, her niece Tara, and countless admirers whose lives and careers in dentistry she helped to shape.