Even though many laboratory owners plan to retire within the next 10 years, new laboratories of every size continue to sprout. In this new series, LMT profiles the new generation of startups--many that start out very much like the startups of yesteryear--eager to make their mark on our field's new landscape. This first profile, however, exemplifies what can be done when you have the means to include all the bells and whistles of the new high-tech, high-ticket environment.
Mike Girard, RDT, feels he's in the right place at the right time and if you have the same energy he has, it's an opportune time to become one of the strong players in our industry. "Digital technologies have created an opportunity for dental laboratories of all sizes to reinvent ourselves; it's very invigorating!" he says. 'If you have the energy, the vision and a sound plan, there's never been a better time to roll up your sleeves and take some bold moves." Girard, the founder of Diadem Digital Solutions--Diadem is French for "crown" like the one you wear on your head--opened his doors in early 2009, in Troy, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario and, for the past year, has been solidifying Diadem's market position as a high-tech, high precision milling center using the principles of Lean Manufacturing. The 20,000-sq.-ft. facility in Troy, Michigan, is steadily being outfitted with Röders Technology's industrial milling and automation technology from Germany, including RC3 robotic automation, that come at a cost of about $550,000 per machine, when you add in the automation and infrastructure costs. Currently Diadem has four of these 13,000-lb. giants but at scale, Girard predicts he could have nearly 20 machines.
No spring chicken or newcomer to digital technologies, Girard is a long-time industry veteran who was at the hub of Procera's all-ceramic debut in 1997. As Nobel Biocare's vice president of marketing, he was originally charged with heading up its U.S. Procera division. Prior to that he'd spent 20 years with Shaw Laboratories and several more with his own labs, taking with him the confidence, skill and financial strength needed to build his vision. His long-term production goal is for Diadem to produce 2,000 units a day in the U.S.
Girard's initial intention for Diadem was to offer a wide range of services by housing a number of rapid manufacturing and metal printing technologies to create a digital processing center. But as his team continued to get market feedback and perfect its understanding of industrial milling technology, his vision evolved and Diadem is now primarily focused on the precision milling of glass blocks, including IPS e.max restorations. "Ivoclar's monolithic ceramic block has proven to be an ideal, durable and esthetic metal-free material. Diadem's market strength lies in its expertise in milling e.max."
"I believe, because we are the only ones in North America using Röders Technology's high-precision, industrial-strength machinery to mill these blocks, that we are unique in the marketplace at the moment," says Girard, who officially kicks off his company's refined positioning strategy at LMT's Lab Day. "This is the most opportunistic time ever in this industry," he says. "I feel blessed to have this opportunity to execute my vision and really believe what I'm doing matches where dentistry is going."