Although Rick Sonntag owns his own four-person laboratory, he has the power of a much larger operation behind him. Sonntag is a member of the OPT-In Dental Laboratory Cooperative, a group of small, independently owned labs focused on helping its members build their businesses and strengthen their competitive advantage.
“All of our members have common goals and values and are committed to sharing information as freely as possible,” says Sonntag, RDT, AAACD, Owner of 4Points Dental Designs, Inc., St. Petersburg, FL. “And, since we’re all small businesses, we all have the same competition: big box labs and private equity-backed group labs. If we act as a group, it makes all of our individual laboratories stronger.”
That synergistic effect was the vision Dean Mersky, DDS, had in 2012 when he created the OPT-In Cooperative, an aggregate of small labs with 20 or fewer employees. Potential laboratory members undergo an interview process to ensure they fit with the...
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Owner Chris May, CDT, was well positioned for growth. His 12-year-old laboratory, May Dental Arts in Fenton, MO, was successful, modern, efficient and well-staffed with 30 employees. But he also felt he had taken the business as far as he could on his own; he wanted additional capital, marketing assistance and IT support in order to grow his lab further.
May and industry veteran Donald Park have been friends for over five years, first meeting when Park worked for a CAD/CAM manufacturer and May was his customer. May knew that Park had a good understanding of laboratory operations and would periodically ask for his advice. Park knew May ran a top-notch laboratory. During that same time, Park had been talking with Long Trail Holdings, a private equity firm interested in getting into the dental laboratory market.
The result of those connections came to fruition earlier this year with the creation of Central Dental Holdings LLC (CDH), backed by Long Trail Holdings. CDH acquired May Dental Arts...
Artistic Dental Lab in Chicago has been a member of TEREC N.A. (Technical Research Consortium of North America) for only three months but CAD/CAM Manager Dan Ulaszek, CDT, feels they’ve already gotten their yearly dues’ worth and then some.
For example, at Ulaszek’s first meeting in January, another member recommended a milling disc supplier that will save Ulaszek over $2,000 a year, and he also had an opportunity to measure his lab’s production against other labs using the same systems. “You never really know how well you’re doing until you can compare apples to apples with another lab; that information is priceless,” he says. “We learned so many little pearls of wisdom at our very first meeting and have been able to look at our lab from a different point of view because of it.”
Founded in 1985, TEREC holds three meetings each year in different areas of the country. Each meeting features presentations from manufacturers and other industry...
When Gary Iocco was thinking about his long-term exit plan, he wasn’t sure he liked his options. “I didn’t have an employee interested in purchasing the lab so I thought the alternative was selling to a laboratory group,” said Iocco, Owner of Dimension Dental Design, Hastings, MN. “But I was concerned that a group would want me to change my business model, or perhaps even terminate employees or send work offshore. I just really didn’t want to do that.”
So what did he do? He joined forces with another successful laboratory owner—Todd Mayclin, CDT, Mayclin Dental Studio, Minneapolis—to form their own laboratory group. Mayclin had already acquired two other laboratories—E.C. Chmel, Eau Claire, WI and Jackson Fairmont, Fairmont, MN—and he and Iocco saw an opportunity to pool resources, ensure the longevity of each lab, and continue to grow with additional acquisitions.
In 2015, Iocco and Mayclin formed a multi-laboratory holding...
Given all of the talk about the commoditization of our industry, the CAL-Lab Group’s focus on maximizing profits during its 90th annual meeting in Chicago was right on point. Chaired by Jim Gorgol, CDT, the meeting attracted 774 attendees and highlighted strategies for building your bottom line, offering value to dentist-clients and increasing efficiency and productivity with digital technology.
Keynote speaker Gordon Christensen, DDS, MSD, PhD, addressed doing business in a slowly recovering economy during his presentation Paradigm Shifts in Dentistry Influencing the State of Dental Technology. “With the economy still recovering, patients hesitant to spend and benefit plans paying less, both technicians and doctors need to look at the areas that are on the rise, such as implants, digital technology and esthetic dentistry,” he said, also offering his take on new and up-and-coming trends. “Endodontics is going to be big due to aging baby boomers, and sleep dentistry...
Dortmund, Germany-based DOCERAM Medical Ceramics has established a wholly owned American subsidiary, Nacera US, Inc., with distribution facilities in New Castle, DE. It offers multiple lines of zirconia, porcelain oven cleaning products, and single-bake ceramic products for staining, glazing and veneering.
At the show, Nacera US launched Nacera® Pearl, a highly translucent zirconia in white, pre-shaded or multi-layered in various shades for full contour restorations. Nacera Pearl Multi-Shade offers a natural and smooth transition of color from the cervical to the incisal. All Nacera Pearl zirconia has a flexural strength (biaxial) of 1,400MPa and excellent machinability for milling accurate, thin margins. “The Nacera Zirconia product line combines strength and beauty with a tooth-like, natural translucency,” said Sascha Holstein, Nacera’s Global VP of Sales & Marketing.
In addition, Nacera US and OPT-In Management have formed a strategic partnership to manage...
For the second year in a row, Ivoclar Vivadent raffled off an IvoBase-System in their LMT LAB DAY Chicago ballroom. The winner (center) was Lee Anne Sibila, Owner, Oralab Dental Laboratory, LLC, Bullard, TX, who was thrilled as she’s wanted a system for years. The fully automated press injector is worth nearly $10,000. Also pictured is Kristin Lind, denture patient and blogger, and Ivoclar Vivadent’s Senior Marketing Manager, Removables, Ted Smudde.
Airway Management launched the dreamTAP, its latest sleep apnea/snoring appliance that offers more tongue space for greater comfort than the original TAP. The screw mechanism has also been changed from stainless steel to cobalt-chromium, increasing strength and eliminating the possibility of an allergic reaction.
“We feel we will be able to achieve an even better result with less protrusion than our previous versions,” said Dr. W. Keith Thornton, Inventor of the TAP line of appliances. “As with all of our appliances, we have designed the dreamTAP to meet the PDAC specifications to qualify it for Medicare reimbursement.”
Labs can outsource to the TAP lab or buy the dreamTAP kit and fabricate appliances in house. Fabrication takes about one hour and the kit comes with everything needed to make the appliance, except the acrylic, and includes step-by-step working instructions and various marketing tools like images, videos, website content and customizable brochures....
DENTSPLY launched two new products at LMT LAB DAY:
The ATLANTIS CustomBase solution is a combination of an ATLANTIS patient-specific abutment and an ATLANTIS Core File with a screw access hole already indicated, providing a proper foundation for screw-retained restorations. Available for all major implant systems, and in titanium or gold-shaded titanium, the solution offers a customized emergence profile for soft-tissue esthetics, built-in anti-rotational features created by the patented ATLANTIS VAD (Virtual Abutment Design) software, and a retentive surface.
“By incorporating the new ATLANTIS CustomBase solution, laboratories can avoid all the confusion and any concerns related to the restriction for use of titanium blanks and titanium bases by dental laboratories who are non-510(k) holders to hand-milling only,” said Matt Gassel, Director of Marketing, DENTSPLY Implants North America. “This latest solution streamlines workflow efficiency and allows the laboratory...
“We’re in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution: it’s all about interoperability of devices and connectivity between dentists and labs. The end result is better patient care.” said Stanley M. Bergman, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Henry Schein, kicking off the company’s Evolution of Digital Dentistry Summit 2016 at the Museum of Science and Industry, held during the Chicago Midwinter Meeting in February.
After a reception during which attendees could network and visit the nearby exhibits in the museum, there was a panel discussion on digital dentistry moderated by Rich Miranda, President, Global Prosthetic Solutions and Laboratory Group, Henry Schein.
“What’s the one problem we’re all trying to solve? Inconsistency,” said Panelist Richard Harrell, CDT, Chief Development and Operations Officer of DSG. “Digital technology eliminates the human touch points and thus the primary point of introduction of variable to the manufacturing...
To celebrate 15 years of Lava brand success, 3M launched a new website at LMT LAB DAY Chicago dedicated to showcasing before-and-after case photos that demonstrate the esthetics and strength of Lava-brand zirconia crowns and bridges. In its 15 years of clinical use, millions of Lava restorations have been placed in over 40 countries.
“Thousands of skilled clinicians and technicians have allowed 3M to offer the benefits of zirconia to patients around the world,” said Jennifer Van Ranst, U.S. Marketing Manager. “We are looking forward to using this website to showcase the clinical success our customers have achieved with this material.”
Technicians and dentists can upload their favorite cases at www.3M.com/Lava15.
By investing in a scanner and 3D printer, Al Ranger has nearly tripled his lab’s production. See the steps he took before making the decision to go digital and what he’s learned along the way.
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Kuwata Pan Dent, founded by Masahiro Kuwata, was one of the first laboratories in the U.S. to achieve ISO 9001 certification in 2000. Since ISO certification is an ongoing process, the Cedar Knolls, NJ, full service lab has been recertified five times since then.
Thomas Wade, CDT, explains his alternative next-day technique for converting a conventional denture into a screw-retained immediate-load provisional.
Read More 6 minute read
Rick Peebles has come a long way since he began his career as a one-man removables lab in a prosthodontist’s office more than three decades ago. His laboratory, Peebles Prosthetics Inc., has grown into a 65-person, full-service operation and, in 2013, moved into a two-story, 19,500-sq-ft, state-of-the-art facility in Lakewood, CO.
The Answers Issue is LMT’s exclusive guide to everything you need to know about the dental laboratory industry & those who are in it. Our special coverage features over 400 facts, figures, statistics & strategies on industry trends, finance, retirement, dental lab history, personnel, dentist-clients, marketing, oral health & much, much more!
Where did the Cal-Lab Group get its name?
The name “CAL” harkens back to the group’s origins as Certified Akers Laboratories. Founded in 1926, the Cal-Lab Group is the oldest dental laboratory organization in continuous existence and has over 200 member laboratories.
Who invented flexible partial denture material?
Two dental technicians, Arpad and Tibor Nagy, invented Valplast in 1953 in their laboratory, Master-Touch Dental Lab, which still exists today and is operated by Arpad Nagy’s grandson, Justin Marks, CDT, in Westbury, NY.
Keeping up with modern manufacturing technology, Valplast unveiled the prototype of its new 3D Printable Valplast® Resin at the IDS in 2015 and, more recently, previewed its new r.Pod™ Desktop 3D Printer for flexible partial dentures.
Which lab was the first to market directly to the public?
In the Fall of 1984, DenMat Corp. placed ads for its veneers in Reader’s Digest and McCall’s saying, “Give...
How can I get more work from current accounts?
Cross selling your services to existing customers—rather than getting new business from new accounts—is easier because they already know you and your work and they’re more likely to be enticed to try your other offerings. Given that most dentists use at least two laboratories, try to hone in on why your clients are sending work to another lab; it may be that they are simply unaware of all the services you offer.
Here are some other cross-selling strategies:
Every case that leaves your lab should have a case stuffer about the other services you offer.
Offer a “no-hassle” return policy to clients who want to try another department in your lab; promise a full refund if the dentist isn’t happy with the case.
Train staff to continuously look for cross-selling opportunities. For instance, if your lab is making a crown that is going to receive a partial and the dentist is sending the partial case elsewhere,...
Read More 7 minute read
Is the number of U.S. labs shrinking?
Yes. The number of U.S. laboratories grew steadily from the late 1930s, peaking at approximately 11,500 labs in 1995. That number held pretty steady through the mid-2000s and then began a slow decline. Today there are just about 8,000 labs, including in-house labs; this figure is not expected to hold steady since more boomers will be retiring over the next 10 years.
How many laboratory owners will retire in the next five years?
Just over one-third of laboratory owners plan to retire by 2020. The most popular exit strategies are selling off their equipment and shutting their doors or selling to an unrelated third party, such as a competitor or laboratory group.
How many laboratories have in-house digital fabrication equipment?
58% of respondents to LMT’s 2015 State of the Industry Survey offer digitally fabricated restorations. Of that percentage:
78% have at least one scanner
59% have at least one milling machine
24% have at least...
Read More 4 minute read
With LMT’s LAB DAY Chicago right around the corner—February 26 and 27—it’s time to finalize your plans to get the most out of our industry’s biggest, busiest show! Here’s a look at some of the special promotions, raffles and demonstrations available inside the LAB DAY Exhibit Hall.
Read More 11 minute read
- November 2015
“We knew we could no longer build a value proposition around technology that can be procured by anyone,” says Lab Owner Mike Hill. Read about his strategies for engaging clients on a new level.
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. . . to be Jolly, yes, but not because the Christmas holiday is two months away. ’Tis because it’s show season and it’s off to an outstanding start with over 1,000 attendees for the first time ever at LMT LAB DAY East! This, despite the fact that there were three other key industry programs the same weekend (Nobel Biocare and Sirona events in Las Vegas and the National Denturist Association’s 9th Annual Conference in nearby Washington, DC)!
Though we had a good feeling about leaving our former location in New York City for the resort town of Atlantic City, NJ, we couldn’t have anticipated a more wonderful weekend experience. The Convention Center Exhibit Hall was bright and airy and enabled us to provide a comfortable and spacious environment. Attendees drove into the area from all directions and, once there, were greeted with balmy weather and the smell of the ocean; a calming departure from the hustle and bustle of midtown Manhattan.
In comparison to years...
- October 2015
Launched this month, Crownbox is an online marketplace where any laboratory or milling center can connect to buy and sell dental milling and printing services. “Crownbox is like an eBay for our industry, connecting buyers and sellers of dental CAD/CAM. It’s a venue for companies that have invested in CNC milling and 3D printing equipment to sell these services and for labs that would like more options when it comes to outsourcing partners. We’ve created a platform that improves access for everyone,” says Alex Frangadakis, Crownbox Founder and CEO.
Crownbox enables laboratories to order milled abutments, bars, crowns, printed models and partials, etc., from multiple milling centers simultaneously. Users can drag-and-drop .stl files, enter case details, submit orders and track cases at different locations and order status all within a single platform.
For sellers, Crownbox offers a new marketing opportunity and distribution channel. Milling centers can set up a free...
LMT Communications, Inc. · October 20 at 2:14 pm
- September 2015
Your website is a reflection of your laboratory; many times it’s the first impression a potential client will have of your lab. Jordon Comstock offers tips to keep in mind when designing your website.
A record-breaking crowd welcomed LMT’s LAB DAY East to its new Atlantic City, NJ venue on September 19. More than 1,020 attendees flocked to the Atlantic City Convention Center for a jam-packed day of education, networking and comparison shopping.
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