When Jerry Giuliano Jr. opened his CAD/CAM-based laboratories on New Year's Day 2011, he had no employees, one scanner, one milling machine and an 800-sq-ft office space. Today, he has 14 employees, three scanners, four mills and a new 5,000-sq-ft space, and Giuliano says his business is on track to hit over a million dollars in sales by the end of the year.
Giuliano, a fourth-generation technician with multiple labs in his extended family, first saw the potential of CAD/CAM while working in his father's lab, Bio-Tech Prosthetics in Arlington Heights, IL. Although his father had his eye on retirement and didn't want to invest in pricey new equipment, the demand for CAD/CAM-based products ignited Jerry's entrepreneurial spirit and, since he already had a degree in Graphic Design, he wasn't intimidated by the technology. "Because of my strong computer background, I knew I could transfer my hands-on skills to the digital workflow," says Giuliano, who spent the next three years creating a business plan, researching equipment and securing financing before he opened Vitality Dental Arts and Vitality Milling Center. "And I already knew I had at least one customer: my dad."
Giuliano admits the first nine months were tough. "I had a large amount of debt hanging over my head, had invested all of my savings and didn't take a single day off for several months," he says. "I worked weekends, holidays and more than my share of all-nighters."
Another challenge was getting the labs' names out there and that's also where his graphics experience came in handy. He spent hours creating custom logos, ads, websites and other targeted marketing materials to promote the labs' services.
Over time, as business increased, Giuliano started hiring employees and his 100-hour workweeks began to diminish. Today he credits a big part of the labs' success to reinvesting profits back into the business and creating brand recognition. "I never thought we'd be doing so well after just our second year," he admits. "So I keep raising the bar higher."