"We're all on Team Heartland Dental. That's special to be a part of."
Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Heartland Dental
Heartland Dental’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel is a college football loving, Iowa native. John Pantazis earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Northern Iowa and attended law school at University of Iowa. After spending some time on the east coast, he moved to Chicago where he was doing legal work for Heartland Dental. He was recruited to come to Effingham, IL in 2012 and became the company’s first General Counsel. He’s married to his high school sweetheart and they have three beautiful daughters. As you get to know more about John, you’ll see that his passion for life and work make him who he is today.
Do you have a nickname?
People call me J.P. because nobody can pronounce my last name.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a professional football player for the San Francisco 49ers because they were winning all the Super Bowls at the time. I used to pretend I was Jerry Rice. You know I could have reached that dream, but I thought why not be a lawyer instead.
Who inspired you as a kid?
My dad inspired me a lot. He was a professor at the University of Iowa. He worked really hard to have success and take care of all of us. His dad, my grandfather, worked nights in a diner. He was an immigrant from Greece. My dad had the opportunity to go to college and learned the value of working hard from his dad. He passed that along to me and it’s had a lasting impact.
What was your first job?
My first real job was working a nursing home. I helped in the kitchen serving food and cleaning dishes. Not a ton of people around my own age, but it was neat getting to know everyone there.
How do you drink your coffee?
Quickly. I have 3 little girls at home, so I drink it quickly and in large quantities.
"If you're not getting better, everyone else around you is. It's that growth mentality that allows a person to be successful. One of the reasons Heartland Dental is so successful is because we invest in our people.
If you could have one superpower what would it be?
Flying like Superman. He can go wherever he wants like the moon or China or anywhere. Laser beams out of my eyes would also be cool.
Name one thing you couldn’t live without.
My family. They’re very special to me. College football is a distant second.
Favorite place to travel or favorite vacation?
The outdoors are a lot of fun – hiking, skiing. I really like the mountains. Colorado is a favorite vacation spot of mine.
Any animals in your household?
Yes, I live on a hobby farm. We have goats and pigs and chickens and way too many barn cats and a dog. It’s kind of like a petting zoo. It’s fun, but it’s a lot of work.
Recommend a leadership or motivational book.
The Obstacle is the Way, which is a book about how the obstacles we face every day really are the things that drive us forward. We can use those obstacles to motivate us and be successful or we can let them prevent us from success. We’re in control of making that choice.
Do you have a mentor?
DeAnn McClain (Executive Vice President of Operations). She’s helped me through a lot of different things, but I think one of the things she’s taught me the most is leadership – take things as they come, be stable, think things through, and make good decisions for your team. She’s been a valuable to me as a mentor and friend.
What would you tell dental students about Heartland Dental?
I think I would ask more than I would tell. I would ask them what they want to accomplish in their career and how they define success. I think they would say things like, “I want to be a great dentist, I want to be successful, I want to grow and improve my skills, I want to work in a beautiful office with great people, I want opportunity.” And guess, what? Check, check, check, check, check, check. That’s Heartland Dental.
What is one of your favorite Heartland Dental moments?
Because we’re so innovative, we’re growing and there’s lots of demand for our services. Part of the work I do is regulatory. A couple years ago our team came together to defeat an anti-DSO law in one of the states. We needed supported doctors to explain what Heartland Dental does to folks who didn’t understand. Many took time out of their personal lives to help tell their story. Those supported doctors did that because they love this company. When those folks heard their stories, they said, “Okay we’ve got to learn and we’ve got to change, because we didn’t understand what Heartland Dental really does.” I learned the value of teamwork.
"We take care of each other and support each other. It's something you can't really talk about - you have to experience it."
Why does continuing education matter?
Continuing education is really important because you have to keep getting better. If you’re not getting better, everyone else around you is. It’s that growth mentality that allows a person to be successful. One of the reasons Heartland Dental is so successful is because we invest in our people.
What does being part of the Heartland Dental family mean to you?
When you come to Heartland Dental, you do feel like you’re joining a family. I remember when I started people would say, “Welcome to our family.” I wasn’t sure what that meant at first, but our culture is very close knit. We’re all going in the same direction, we’re all thinking the same things, we share the same values, and we’re all on Team Heartland Dental. That’s special to be a part of.
How would you describe Heartland Dental’s culture?
Unmatched. There’s nothing else like it. You can tell somebody exactly what we do, but they can’t replicate it because it’s so unique. We take care of each other and support each other. It’s something you can’t really talk about – you have to experience it.