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Instead of conventional rows of benches, the ceramic department—which is lit with Dazor color-corrective lighting—was designed in a circular pod formation, each seating four technicians. These custom-made units have Formica tops and are equipped with Kavo portable suction units; Kavo handpieces; water-cooled high-speed handpieces; microscopes; and IntraTech porcelain furnaces by Whip Mix. Although the pods take up more room, they offer more personal space for employees and reduce distractions and noise.
The new lab features a bright, spacious shade-taking room off the lobby. The lab’s 28 employees have been the key motivator throughout the entire renovation: both partners knew the stress of noise and heat that goes along with a production laboratory was weighing heavily on them. “Our employees have been telling us for years that they wanted a new place,” says Verch. “Now they say they don’t want to change a thing.” Verch also adds that, on the facility’s one-year anniversary in March, the building will be dedicated to Jeff Suermann, a very talented ceramist-employee who passed away in 2005.
One of the lab’s top goals was to minimize dust, moisture and fumes, so there are four custom-made, stainless steel, 6’ x 3’ exhaust hoods throughout the lab—in the burnout room, removable department and two in the casting room. The hoods work in conjunction with two five-ton HV/AC units to help regulate the building’s temperature—a huge issue in the old lab where the ceramic department was always a tropical 82°. There are also five more three-ton units that heat/cool the rest of the lab. “This year, in muggy July, we were able to keep our porcelain department at 68°! It was awesome not to be hot all the time!” says Verch.
In March 2009—after eight months of renovation during which 90% of all internal walls were knocked down to create a logical, efficient flow for the lab—Verch Dental Ceramics moved into its new building. The whole move took only four to five hours and the staff was extremely enthusiastic. “In fact, the Friday we moved we had folks coming in at 3am to start the process! By the time I came in at 6am, things were already jumping,” recalls Verch.