In February, The Argen Corp. acquired the Jelenko dental alloy business from Heraeus Kulzer, Inc. Argen is incorporating the business into its San Diego, California facility but will maintain the Jelenko brand name for the alloys.
The Argen Corp. was founded in South Africa more than 45 years ago and a subsidiary company was opened in New York City in 1983. Three years later, the Woolf family immigrated to the U.S. and moved the company to San Diego. Argen is a private, family-owned business and the largest producer of dental gold alloys in the world.
LMT spoke with Anton Woolf, executive vice president, to learn more about the acquisition and what it means to the company.
LMT: Why is the Jelenko acquisition a good fit for Argen?
Woolf: Our core competency is producing dental alloys, and our economies of scale will allow us to effectively integrate Jelenko's manufacturing processes into our current infrastructure.
We have a great deal of respect for Jelenko, which is why we're maintaining the brand name. The alloy compositions, packaging and formulas will remain the same. We assure the Jelenko customer that nothing will change. In fact, we expect to expand the Jelenko line and increase distribution worldwide.
LMT: Jelenko is just the latest in a series of alloy companies that Argen has acquired. Can you give us a timeline of other acquisitions?
Woolf: We acquired Aurium Research USA in 1993, and both Leach and Dillon Dental Alloys and The Wilkinson Co. in 1995. Then, in March 2005, we purchased Pentron Alloys, a line that Henry Schein/Zahn exclusively distributes worldwide.
With the addition of 75 Jelenko alloys, we now offer over 650 different alloy compositions under eight brand names and multiple private label brands.
All our brands are sold through extensive distribution channels worldwide; in addition to wholly owned subsidiaries in the United Kingdom and Germany, we sell to over 70 countries.
LMT: What's the advantage of offering so many different alloy compositions?
Woolf: We're very customer-focused and we want to meet the needs of our customers worldwide. Each country has unique requirements for what types of alloys the dental laboratories use. All of our customers, large and small accounts alike, will find an alloy to suit their needs through our extensive range of products.
LMT: How do you think being a family-owned business has helped The Argen Corp. to succeed?
Woolf: We are able to treat all of our employees and customers as an extended part of our family. Everyone has access to key decision makers at our company.
LMT: Unlike many alloy manufacturers who have diversified their product lines to include non-alloy products, The Argen Corp. is uniquely focused on alloys. Why have you chosen this particular business model?
Woolf: We've always felt that in order to be the premier dental alloy producer in the world, we need to have a singular focus. This has allowed us to channel all of our efforts and expertise to improving our alloy product lines through advanced technology. We understand that precious metals are a very important part of the laboratory business and our customers know they can depend on us.
We've also expanded into refining in the past several years, which is a tremendous complement to our alloy business. It's been incredibly successful because our customers trust us; and refining is all about trust.
LMT: Your focus on alloys is especially interesting given the growth in metal-free restorations.
Woolf: We believe dental alloys are here for the distant future. Other technologies such as CAD/CAM milling and all-ceramics will have their place in the market but there will always be a need for PFM restorations.
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