Woodland Dental staff celebrate 20 years

Dr. Ryan Anderson began his new practice in Wadena one week before Sept. 11, 2001.

Celebrating 20 years of business together at Woodland Dental in Wadena are Jan Brasel (back left) Lacey Eckman, Brandi (front left) and Ryan Anderson. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

In 2001, recent dental graduate Ryan Anderson began his first dental practice known as Woodland Dental in a shared space on First Street SE in Wadena.

Fast forward to 2021 and Anderson, his wife Brandi, and two other staff members are celebrating 20 years of working in the business together.

Actually, Jan Brasel, a dental assistant, has been working with Anderson for 20 years, but has been working at this dental office for 37 years. Jan lives in Ottertail with her husband Wayne and said the years have been worthwhile thanks to the relationships she’s formed with patients and staff at Woodland Dental.

“It’s been a lot of fun seeing the technology changes,” Brasel said. She says she keeps on learning new things on the job.

Brandi helps out as needed in a host of different functions for the practice. She’s also a realtor.


Another 20 year employee and dental assistant, Lacey Eckman, agreed about the relationships she’s been able to have with people over the years. She’s from Sebeka and interned with Dr. Steve Soroko (the former practice owner), then was hired on by Dr. Anderson right after graduation. A week later, she even got married.

“Our patients are great. You form a relationship with them when they come in enough. I just enjoy doing dental work,” Eckman said.

The Andersons, who are from Bagley originally, landed on Wadena as their choice for a dental office among a large spread of options in the state at the time. Anderson said the move to Wadena was made easy thanks to the conversation he had with Dr. Soroko.

“We got along very well. He had a very similar practice philosophy as I did, basically just take care of people, do the right thing and everything else will take care of itself,” Anderson said. Anderson and Soroko still chat.

Anderson said the practice now has fourth generation families returning to have their teeth cared for. That’s something the staff take great pride in.

“I think about all the people over the years, you know people don’t like going to a dental office in the first place, but they have a way to make a stressful situation into a good experience. They’ve seen thousands of people and taken good care of them over the years,” Anderson said of the staff.

He said spending 20 years together is a great milestone.

The staff agreed that they’ve been through a lot of change together. Technology is constantly changing and has been drastic over the last 20 years. The building itself has increased significantly. The current conference room is basically the footprint of the original building. What was once three offices is now eight. Dr. Jim Matthiae even shared a portion of the building early on. They went from four up to 16 staff at one point. With current staffing shortages, they currently have a couple openings.


The group said the building expansions have been a big boost. Even with more capacity, they continue to keep a steady schedule of patients. A large number include those underinsured Minnesotans who can get the help they need from the practice’s advanced dental therapist.

Anderson said they look forward to the next 20 years of growth and technology advancements as they seek to keep the community smiling all along the way.

Woodland Dental is located at 206 1st Street SE in Wadena.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in the city of Verndale, Minn., but is bent on making it as country as he can until he returns once more to the farm living he enjoys. Also living the dream are his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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