It was 1985 and Knight Dental Group's C&B business was booming. In contrast, its removables department was stagnant—technicians only worked on dentures if it was a combination case from current clients. So the laboratory decided to sell off its removable department—the frames division to one lab and acrylic processing to another—and focus all of its attention on C&B.
Fast forward 22 years to 2007.
Knight's C&B business was still doing well, but its denture business had picked up and the company was now spending about $140,000 a year subcontracting the removable portions of its combination cases. It was also paying attention to market trends and knew dentures were hot.
The lab conducted six months of research on the potential of the market, equipment, fees, turnaround times and more—and it liked what it saw. "We saw that removables were growing rapidly due to demand from baby boomers, better consumer awareness of esthetic dentures and product developments. We also knew that denture lab owners in our area were retiring and felt the market was ripe for our re-entry," says Warren Rogers, president of the 90-person operation in Oldsmar, Florida.
The lab decided to take the plunge, investing over $100,000—and another six months—to get the department up and running, including:
- $9,000 on materials, including teeth;
- $12,000 on building improvements, including creating a burnout and casting room and installing plumbing and electric;
- $25,000 on training, including outside courses and on-the-job training; and
- $60,000 on equipment.
The lab appointed longtime manager, Scott Pincus, CDT, head of the new department and also hired a six-person staff, all of whom had prior experience in removables.
In August 2008, the department officially opened and the laboratory announced its new service to current clients with a combination of statement stuffers, direct mailers, and personal phone calls and e-mails from the lab's four-person client technical services team.
Knight's efforts are paying off. Half of the lab's nearly 500 clients now send their removable work to the lab and the department has grown from six technicians to 10 in two years. "We've really fulfilled a need for our current client base," says Rogers. "Many of our clients were using a second lab for their removables and now we've acquired that part of their business as well."
Last year, removables and implants made up 14% of laboratory sales and Rogers expects that number to grow by 25% this year thanks to a marketing campaign aimed at recruiting new dentist-clients as well as a new product line. In addition to offering economy dentures and a premium line featuring Dentsply's Portrait® IPN® teeth, Knight launched Reflections, the lab's most esthetic denture featuring Ivoclar Vivadent's Ivocap injection system and SRPhonares teeth.
"Many removable labs have their versions of an economy and a premium denture, but we wanted to set ourselves apart by adding a third choice for those who want the ultimate in removable esthetics," says Pincus. "This product will help us meet our increasing client demand for an esthetic implant-supported overdenture with superior fit and strength."