How about a round of applause for one- to three-person laboratory owners? With almost another decade to go before many of these operators feel "the calling" to retire, they are still very much engaged in the here and now and are clearly living the well-disciplined, well-balanced life. Bravo.
The results of LMT's comprehensive Small Lab Survey give us the opportunity to celebrate some of the reasons you are all so deeply engaged in this field in the first place, highest among them: a shared passion for replicating natural dentition.
When the first huge batch of completed surveys came through—both online and via the mail—the editorial department eagerly dove right in to get an early read on how you are faring and what you are thinking. We believe this report will help dispel any misconceptions about very small and/or home-based laboratories as a group.
Our pairing of this survey with the latest CAD/CAM product and technology news is no coincidence. While everyone understands that most laboratory owners came into this field for the love of the craft, we also recognize that the tools and equipment used to create restorations have changed so dramatically that it's become hard for some to still call it "craftsmanship."
To that end, Dan O'Rourke, owner of O'Rourke Dental Studio, a small, high-end laboratory in Bristol, NH, recently suggested a Man versus Machine challenge on The BRIDGE. Bridgsters enjoyed a rapid-fire discussion about CAD/CAM restorations versus those made by a pair of human hands. To date, it's the longest conversation thread on the site. (To join the discussion or simply enjoy the lively read, go to "A 'Man vs. Machine' Challenge" )
Between The BRIDGE and this Small Lab Survey, it's clear that those who are fully engaged in this industry are engaged because they are doing what they really love, whether it's working at the bench, on a computer, on a phone, at a location outside or inside their homes. As a small lab owner, each of you is honoring your preferences, finding balance, beholden to none and thriving. How cool is that!
P.S. Your participation in surveys such as this one is priceless; it helps us help you keep your finger on the pulse of your community. It enables us to point out strategic directions that may help align you with the best plan for your market niche. Thanks for consistently working with us so that our reports back to you can be so comprehensive.
By the way, though we don't like to bombard you with too many survey requests in one period of time, please excuse the bombardment this one time as we gear up for our biennial Wage and Fee Reports. By now, you've hopefully completed and returned our Wage Survey—our report is scheduled for our September issue. The Fee Survey will arrive shortly and we are, again, hoping you will come through with your valued and much appreciated participation.