By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member
Born and raised in West Baltimore, Frank Hocker never imagined he would end up working in the dental field for over 50 years.
Five decades in, his passion for the work has endured– even when running his own dental lab was considered a side gig to his day job.
“I’ve always had an occupation, but this was a love of mine,” Hocker told the AFRO.
Hocker is the owner of Baltimore-based Hocker Dental Lab, formerly known as F. Hocker and Associates. His business runs the gamut of dental services, providing clients with full and partial dentures, mouthguards, bite blocks and crowns.
It wasn’t until 1994 that Hocker was able to retire from his day job to work solely at his lab, and he couldn’t have been more excited.
Although the lab is located on Ayrdale Avenue, Hocker’s services extend beyond his brick-and-mortar location. He’s often traveled to the homes of his clients to help them with their dentures, and he’s also met with them in hospitals and nursing homes.
Hocker gained his interest in dentistry right after high school. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his career, and his godmother informed him about a local dental technician named Bobby Nelson.
After learning about Nelson’s day-to-day responsibilities, Hocker thought the profession could be a good fit. He attended dental school in Baltimore for two years, and after, he joined forces with fellow dental technician, James Seabron, to open their own lab.
The pair successfully ran the practice on Garrison Boulevard until 2000, when a Walgreens came to the neighborhood and bought the entire block. Hocker and Seabron were forced to relocate and ultimately decided to go their separate ways, with Hocker moving to his current Ayrdale Avenue location.
For years, Hocker ran the business by himself, with periodic help from his sons, and now, his eldest joins him in the lab daily.
Hocker believes the key to his prolonged success is the perpetual demand for his service.
“People get older and implants cost so much so they prefer dentures for the price,” said Hocker.
When he eventually retires from the lab, Hocker hopes his clients remember him by his good service and his ability to help them smile again.
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