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In October of 1979, Oscar Mendoza fled for his life to California in the trunk of a car after his uncle was killed in the Salvadoran Civil War.
Established in 1983, 55-technician Van Hook Dental Studio in Tempe, AZ, specializes in full mouth reconstruction and implants and is taking the lead in the surgical support arena.
Since a large percentage of its dentist-clients are specialists, Van Hook is a complete dental imaging center facility that serves their surgical needs. The facility has a state-of-the-art I-Cat CBCT scanner that’s used for surgical and orthodontic scanning, implant planning and surgical guides.
“Starting with only a CBCT scan, we’re able to combine multiple files to design and fabricate a final restoration,”...
Tra’ Chambers had no actual laboratory experience when he opened Express Dental Laboratory in Norman, OK in December 2012. Harnessing the efficiency of CAD/CAM technology, the lab touts a two- to three-day turnaround (or same-day for its mobile service) and generated over $300,000 in revenue during its first full year in business. Now, with a staff of seven, the lab serves 118 clients and 45% of its work is completely digital. Here’s more about the lab’s growth strategies:
LMT: What made you decide to open Express Dental Laboratory without any prior laboratory experience?
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The bucolic town of Central City, Pennsylvania lies five miles down the road from the site of the Flight 93 memorial and not far from the Quecreek coalmine that trapped nine men underground for four days in 2002. It’s also home to Curt Morgese, owner of a one-person, high-end C&B dental laboratory. As of last November, he’s also the district’s borough councilman.
“Making teeth has been a life-long passion,” he says. “I am always on a quest for knowledge in my daily profession.” He is also keen on politics.
He relocated his lab to Central City from Greenburg,...
St. Louis, MO
Owner: National Dentex Corp.; President: Larry Weiss
Open communication is a core value at Keller Laboratories. Every other month, President Larry Weiss holds “A Forum with Larry” where team members are chosen to join him for lunch and encouraged to ask questions or discuss any lab-related concerns. The unfiltered interaction and feedback keep Weiss in touch with the team’s needs and concerns and lets them know their voices are being heard. “Team members like having access to the decision maker and to know I’m listening,” explains...
Owner: Dr. Dick Barnes
With more than 200 employees, it’s no easy feat to get everyone focused on the same goal. But at Arrowhead Dental Laboratory in Sandy, UT, a singular mission gives meaning to the work day: helping customers become better, more productive dentists.
“Dr. Barnes emphasizes building relationships first and building the business second; that’s really become our culture here,” says Peggy Nelson, the lab’s Director of Business Development. “In fact, the bond between the people who work here and our customers is what makes...
Lake Forest, CA
Owner: Mike Hill
Many labs call themselves“studios” but Mike Hill, Owner of 6-11 Dental Studio, makes sure his lab lives up to the name. Treating his technicians like artists is his number-one priority in his employee-centric laboratory.
To inspire creativity and productivity, each ceramist’s work area is a spacious 12' by 12' and set up like an individual studio, with divider walls to create a sense of privacy. The L-shaped workstations are twice the size of typical workbenches, giving technicians ample room to spread out, and the 19-ft-tall ceilings...
San Antonio, TX
Owner: Dirk Albrecht
At Oral Designs, every day is an opportunity to build a collaborative and supportive team. The culture revolves around building camaraderie; for example, the group often gets together during lunch time for games designed by the managers to quiz employees on how much they know about each other. The lab also sponsors employees’ participation in community runs—along with t-shirts that say “Oral Designs Runs this Town” and provides celebratory birthday lunches. “The managers are constantly coming up with activities that...
Owner: Dental Services Group; Area Vice President: Kim Jones
Twice named one of West Michigan’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, DSG Davis has found numerous ways to create a work environment where employees feel excited about coming to work each day. “Even though we’re owned by a corporation, Dental Services Group, management has maintained a family-like atmosphere,” says Dan Smith, CDT, Crown and Bridge Supervisor.
For example, the lab promotes work-life balance by allowing employees, when feasible, to set their own start time...
Owner: Warren Rogers
Knight Dental Group considers its employees so valuable, they’re included in the company’s mission statement: “Our employees are one of our most precious resources; we will treat them with respect and provide a state-of-the-art facility with continuing education and a quality-centered environment.”
True to its word, the lab provides the latest equipment and materials in its sparkling, 23,000-sq-ft facility as well as top-notch training. In addition to bringing speakers in house eight times a year, managers create individualized...
Owner: Benjamin Hart
A 50” HD TV. Ping-Pong tables. Sony PlayStation. Workout equipment. These are just a few of the amenities with which Owner Benjamin Hart has equipped the third-floor of Custom Arts Dental Lab.
Designed as a recreational area for employees, the upstairs also includes a full kitchen, laundry area, and adjoining deck with patio furniture and large gas grill. After all, Hart believes his staff is his family, and when a family gets together, it should always feel right at home.
Hart’s efforts, though, aren’t restricted to the third floor....
Cedar Knolls, NJ
Owners: Yukio Otsubo, President; Yoshinobu Umeda, Vice President; and Ikuzo Enoki, Production Manager
In January 2000, Kuwata Pan Dent, founded by Masahiro Kuwata, became one of the first laboratories in the U.S. to achieve ISO 9001 certification, verifying that it has established and thoroughly documented a quality management system; the lab has been recertified four times since 2000.
Not only does ISO certification ensure consistent quality products and services, for its staff members it means responsibilities and accountability are well defined, there’s...
Owner: Curt Gardali
“I’ve been at this lab for eight years and am still excited to get up and go to work to try and make a difference in our patients’ lives. As an artist, it has been a great place for me to develop my skills and knowledge. The owner of the lab, Curt Gardali, is one of the most inspiring people I have had the honor to apprentice with. His knowledge in the field of dental technology continues to humble me.
We have employees who have been with us for over 50 years and still love coming to work. Our laboratory is very modern, clean, and comfortable...
Owner: Dr. James Hartzel, CDT, and Edwin Fajardo
“One day, we knew we weren’t going to make the shipping deadline for a case for one of our larger accounts on the East Coast. But we also knew we weren’t going to let that client down. The case was finished at 8:00pm and I was at the airport within an hour; 12 hours, four flights, two cab rides and a bunch of protein bars later, I was delivering that case to the dental office as the patient was walking in.
To me, my travel experience speaks volumes about the culture of this laboratory: we will always...
Owner: Lonni Thompson, CDT
More and more thrill seekers are getting into the zipline craze, flying high over forests, zoos and parks around the country. Touted for the adrenaline rush, this outdoor adventure experience has also proven to be a valuable team-building experience for Image Gallery in Dublin, OH.
Two years ago, Owner Lonni Thompson took her employees ziplining, a first for everyone on staff. “We encouraged each other—some of us were scared of heights—so as we walked across ‘sky bridges,’ we talked and laughed away our fears,”...
Headquartered in Ottawa, IL
Owners: Luke Caruso Sr., Luke Caruso Jr. and Jim Caruso
130 employees across three locations
If you’re at an industry meeting and meet a group of people with blinking lights on their shoes, chances are they work at Ottawa Dental Laboratory (ODL).
That blinking light would be an Actiped pedometer, a component of the laboratory’s comprehensive wellness program, which earned ODL recognition as one of the 100 Healthiest Workplaces in America for 2014, as well as the Healthiest Employer in Illinois for 2012 and 2013.
In 2004—after a string of double-digit...
Owner: Jerry Ulaszek
Twice a year, no matter what, Artistic Dental Studio in Bolingbrook shuts down for the day to celebrate its staff. While the first order of business is to share news and updates such as OSHA standards or HR information, after that, it’s time for some post-meeting fun. Past events have included a trip to a go-cart track, a bowling alley (featured above), a cruise down the Chicago River or simply game day at the lab. Breakfast and lunch is served and each employee receives a gift card for gas, food or a restaurant. “The functions reward...
Mount Vernon, NY
Owner: Andrea Tintrup
When Frank Tintrup, Jr., Owner of family-owned Tintrup Dental Lab in Mount Vernon, NY, passed away at the end of 2000 from pancreatic cancer, no one expected his wife Andrea Tintrup to step up the way she did. Without any previous laboratory experience, she walked into the lab in January 2001, called a staff meeting and ensured the staff that she was going to work her hardest to make sure everyone kept their jobs and could cash their paychecks every Friday. She has been keeping that promise for the last 14 years.
Despite her personal tragedy and...
Owner: National Dentex; Lab President: Lynn Jenkins
“H&O Dental Lab valuescomplete honesty and trust; open, two-way communication; mutual respect; individual accountability; and total commitment. Management always acknowledges team member accomplishments such as first, fifth, 10th, 15th, 20th and 25th anniversaries; perfect attendance; and achieving CDT certification. We also have monthly themed events for various holidays and traditions.
To ensure open communication, we have morning huddles, a 15-minute meeting during which each section leader discusses the...
Owner: Jeff Paulen
“When I think ofall the reasons why New Image Dental Laboratory is a great place to work, it comes down to the Owner, Jeff Paulen, and his family. The Paulens are committed to helping us be the best we can be in our industry. They help us improve our skills by paying for all of our training at both on- and off-site courses and always make sure we have whatever we need to do our jobs in a healthy, clean, safe and secure environment, whether it’s new equipment, additional training or hiring staff. Working at New Image has enriched my life. And...
Owners: Hal and Glenda Jones
“Hal and Glenda Jones are exceptional people first, exceptional employers second. I’ve been working here for 13 years and their genuine care for their employees shows throughout the company,” says Mikki Davis, Ceramist at Waco, TX-based Summit Dental Lab, echoing the resounding sentiment of the employees, a third of whom have worked there for a decade or more.
The Joneses believe that each employee’s character determines his ability to contribute positively to the team as a whole and enhances the quality of its products...
Owner: Ron Humphrey
It’s a crisp winter day and the sun is shining on Cougar Mountain in Issaquah, WA…just another day of spectacular views for the staff at Northwest Dental Arts. The second-floor boutique lab features an open floor plan with huge windows on all sides. All eight employees have a view of Cougar Mountain including the deer, bobcats and many varieties of birds that live there, as well as Poo Poo Point, a popular take-off spot for hang gliders. Technicians sit at custom maple workbenches designed by Owner Ron Humphrey and a contractor, and clear...
Owners: Ira Dickerman, CDT, and Myron Dickerman, CDT
Once a technician starts working at Dickerman Dental Prosthetics, he has a tendency to stick around. Of the lab’s 26 employees, 62% have worked at the lab for at least 10 years and another 23% have been with the lab for over 30. “Working together for so long has created a strong bond between employees and an atmosphere where the days at the lab are as valuable as days off,” says Jim Pollina, C&B Manager and Dickerman employee since 1977.
So how does this third-generation family operation...
Owner: Don Albensi, Sr.
When Albensi Laboratories says its employees receive a Total Rewards Program, it means total. Along with paying 100% of the staffs’ medical, vision and dental coverage, the lab also provides flexible working hours, life insurance, a 401(k) program with matching and access to a financial advisor. The laboratory even offers a 12-week Fit Camp—including aerobic classes, strength training and advice on healthy eating—twice a year and pays 50% of the cost for each employee.
Benefits like these are what led the staff to vote the...