In response to Claus Dampmann's letter, LaborâNot Material Costsâis Key Factor Driving Selling Price of Chinese Crowns, in your June/July issue, please allow me to point out some things he failed to mention.
While it's true that ProLab Solutions, Inc.Â and many other offshore labs are FDA-, ISO- and DAMAS-compliant, many of the American labs that buy crowns and bridges from them are not. Also, even though ProLab Solutions is "very supportive of full disclosure"Â the same can't be said for a great number of its lab customers.
Dampmann is either naive or less than forthright when he states that offshore outsourcing is only labor driven. If a 10-person lab grossing $1.5 million per year decided to outsource 50% of its work to China (for $40 per unit or less), five technicians at that lab lose their jobs, American dental suppliers lose 50% of that lab's annual purchases, American refiners lose 50% of the lab's scrap business, and the list goes on and on. It's irresponsible to claim that all of this is driven by the "lack of new technicians entering the dental laboratory profession."
By facilitating the cheapening of our profession, the offshore business model has helped make it a less attractive field to enter and, consequently, many of our technical training programs have closed their doors. I personally know of several labs that have fired most of their technicians because they can get restorations from China much cheaper than those they themselves can produce.
Finally, let's call a spade a spade. In the end, outsourcing to China is a greed-driven business model that's undermining the future of dental technology in the U.S.
~ Bill Thomas, CDT, President Smile Science, Inc. Cleveland, GA