It's been more than a year since two of our industry's biggest suppliers - Zahn Dental and Darby Dental Lab Supply - merged into one. LMT visited Zahn's Melville, New York headquarters to hear about the newly integrated company and its plans for 2008.
When you hear of a merger or acquisition, it's often a larger company purchasing a much smaller one and folding it into its current operation and systems. That's what Zahn Dental's Richard Miranda would call a "plug-in." But last August, when Zahn's parent company, Henry Schein, purchased Darby Dental Lab Supply, the scenario was much different.
"These were two very big, very successful companies so the challenge for us was to combine them in a way that would keep the best parts of both," says Miranda, president of Zahn and vice president of dental business development at Henry Schein. "Acquisitions like this aren't necessarily smooth at first, but when it works, it's fantastic."
Because Zahn and Darby had once been fierce competitors, it took some time until the employees adapted to working side-by-side and the team felt fully integrated. "It was a matter of understanding each other's culture and learning to trust each other," says Rita Acquafredda, general manager of Zahn (and formerly Darby Lab Divisions's vice president of operations), who is responsible for Zahn's day-to-day operations.
Now, more than a year later, the "new" Zahn boasts over 14,000 products, a sales force of more than 50 inside and outside representatives, two education centers and eight tooth departments in locations throughout the United States.
A Good Fit
One reason Zahn and Darby were a good fit was because their market shares and sales strategies complemented each other: while Zahn was known for its relationship with larger laboratories, Darby had the small- to medium-size laboratory market. And, while Zahn's sales strength was in its group of outside field representatives, Darby tackled sales by telemarketing.
To enhance the teamwork feeling among the combined sales teams - and to better support its customers - Zahn has initiated "tandem selling." Teams of one inside rep, one outside rep and one assistant work with the same group of laboratories so they can get accustomed to their customers' needs and preferences. "The concept allows customers to maintain relationships with their salespeople and to have the 'feel' of working with a small company," says Stan Maragos, marketing manager.
This year, Zahn plans to put even more emphasis on the laboratory customer/sales team partnership. "We have a lot of business tools for laboratories," says Miranda. "So it's not all about selling products but, rather, finding out what our customers need and sharing those tools so they can run their businesses more effectively."
The goal is to make Zahn a laboratory's one-stop resource - not only for product needs, but for services like laboratory design, leasing, financial planning, gold refining, equipment repair and credit card processing. Other resources include:
Education, a priority for Zahn this year, will focus on the company's extensive porcelain offering. The Zahn Expo CE Continuum - an ongoing, "without walls" extension of Zahn's annual Expo - offers regional quarterly seminars. In addition, more than 30 hands-on courses are planned for this year at the company's two educational centers in Connecticut and Colorado.
Technology solutions. In an effort to help laboratory customers become more efficient, the company offers LabNet management software; SupplyNet inventory management software; and the ArubA EZ electronic ordering system, which includes the EZ scan, a handheld barcode system to facilitate ordering and inventory control.
Exclusive products and services, which include Noritake porcelains, Camlog implants, X-Rite Shade Vision, Pentron alloys and ceramics, and the Custom Milling Center (CMC).
Marketing support. To support Noritake and Pentron Ceramic users, Zahn has produced two new marketing CDs for laboratories with sales letters and advertisements that can be personalized for their clients. In addition, the company has worked to establish brand awareness through advertisements in dental publications and market presence at scientific exhibitions.
By promoting its use of these business tools and working with laboratories to help them adapt to a rapidly changing environment, Zahn's goal is to solidify its relationship with its customers. In fact, that's the same strategy that Miranda advises his laboratory customers to use with their own dentist-clients. "More and more, laboratories will need to focus on relationship marketing," says Miranda. "Whether it's offshore competition, or chairside CAD/CAM, you can't stop it. You can only focus on the relationship and realize it's now about more than quality products."
Zahn invites laboratories to give back
Henry Schein, Zahn's parent company, has donated millions of dollars in products, services and cash over the years for healthcare advocacy and education, access to care, community wellness and disaster recovery. Several of the company's initiatives relate to the dental sector, and this is an area in which Zahn's President, Richard Miranda, would like to see more laboratories participate. "We want to reach out to labs and have them side by side with dentists in these programs. When you work together on this kind of effort, it really strengthens relationships," says Miranda.
Some of Henry Schein's programs include:
Healthy Children, Healthy Lifestyles: Launched in 2006 in Columbia, South Carolina, this program promotes access to care by providing free medical services for underserved children. They receive health and dental screenings to check for diseases and risk factors that commonly afflict today's youth, including hypertension, asthma, diabetes, obesity and poor oral health. The program expanded to four more cities in 2007, including Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; Detroit, Michigan; and Richmond, Virginia. A total of 10 cities will host the program in 2008.
Senior Smiles: Henry Schein, along with GlaxoSmithKline, supports this Alliance of the American Dental Association (AADA) program, which distributed oral health product kits to more than 11,000 senior citizens in 31 states in 2007. It also provides educational materials to communities to raise awareness of the importance of good oral health for older adults.
Give Kids a Smile: Henry Schein has partnered with the ADA for the past five years and served as the exclusive distributor of professional products for this program, which provides free oral health services to underserved children. Last year, more than 52,000 dental team members provided free educational, preventative and restorative services to more than 757,000 children in 2,225 communities across the country.
Back to School: Over the last 10 years, more than 6,000 children have received complete new outfits for the first day of school, including sneakers. In addition, children receive a backpack filled with school supplies, reading books and hygiene products.