The Way I See It

Series · 59 articles

  • Water, Water, Everywhere . . . And Yet

    Competing on price is not, of course, an unfamiliar reality—production/high volume laboratories have been the perceived competitors of small laboratories for decades. But now, with digital technology available to all size laboratories, the competitive arena enables some laboratories to make a comfortable profit via sheer volume and that is one of the causes of industry-wide price erosion.

    As you see from our cover story, The Race to the Bottom is the takeaway mantra of respondents to LMT’s 2014 Fee Survey and it isn’t pretty. Because of price competition—fueled largely by...

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  • Put In Your Two Cents, Get Back a Goldmine

    The great transition taking hold of the way our community works is far from settling down as strategies continue to be employed and tested by tomorrow’s business leaders. Some of the changes have the capacity to pull the rug out from under us even as we retool to adapt to today’s innovations.

    Though there will be an increased need for restorative work among aging boomers in the near future, right now it’s a huge challenge for laboratories to make it to that future. Having a detailed read on the market—that would enable you to see your own future more clearly—would...

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  • Now's the Time to Take Advantage of Tax Code Credits/Deductions

    LMT’s Buyer’s Guide is timed to coincide with your end-of-year fiscal planning and serves as a reminder that the cost of purchased or leased equipment (as well as off-the-shelf software) can be deducted under Section 179 of the IRS Tax Code.

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  • What's Your Responsibility to Employees?
    Judy Fishman · The Way I See It · June/July 2014

    One of the reasons lab owners prefer to fly solo is that they have no appetite for dealing with the challenges that come with personnel management.

    There’s no doubt that more people mean more issues. However, there are also as many, if not more, positives for having employees, key among them is that they play a critical role in a business’s ability to grow and prosper.

    Listening to recent news discussions for or against raising the federally mandated minimum wage to $10.10 has me wondering: What do you feel your responsibility is to your employees? What obligations do you feel you have...

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  • Bell Curves and Base Camps

    During the start-up years of LMT, I read several articles about how product life cycles are bell curves; they typically peak and then decline. I also subscribed to the Harvard Business Review (HBR) and it featured a series about why most startups fail within the first five years.

    Between the image of the bell curve and the HBR stats, the message loomed large that I needed to remain on high alert to recognize when LMT might peak and start to decline. I also decided it was important to have more than one product. We created LAB DAY.

    Our fourth year was exceptional; I knew then that we were going...

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  • Physicians and Dentists: The Oral Connection

    Over the last 30 years or so, the use of alternative/complementary medical therapies has become more widespread in the U.S. Now allopathic (traditional) practices are taking a more holistic approach to healthcare and the trend is continuing to generate more avenues of opportunity.

    In addition, as we learn ever more about how the human body works, it’s become clearer to the traditional medical profession that many important clues to one’s health can be gotten from the oral cavity and, thus, it is of increasing importance for physicians and dentists to work together for the well-being...

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  • Time, Technology & Tenacity

    LAB DAY Chicago was particularly energized this year.

    With technology calling the shots on so many levels, it seemed attendees flooded the Exhibit Hall and educational programs with a heightened level of enthusiasm. That’s just what’s needed if you want to keep on top of what’s trending.

    Like you, manufacturers are caught up in this enthusiasm as well; they have no choice. Even though they are the ones spearheading the digital transition, it is an intense time for them. Take any heavy-hitting, long-time player in this field: from their perspective, it’s unimaginable to think...

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  • The Luckiest People in the World*

    Don’t you just love it when you can go onto a company’s website and see the faces and bios of the people who make that company run? People-centered “pages” help give me a sense of the essence of the operation and sometimes might even persuade me to choose one company’s products over another.

    If you’ve spent some time trolling the internet, you might have noticed that people-oriented pages are popular among dental laboratory websites. Obviously, it pleases me to see this. Though we have always been a community focused on people, 30 years ago that focus was somewhat...

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  • 30/30 Hindsight

    This year marks LMT’s and LAB DAY Chicago’s 30th birthdays and we plan to celebrate all year long. Come celebrate with us in the pages of LMT, at LAB DAY and online as we take a walk through 30 years of history.

    Online, we’re taking our cue from a popular internet trend called Throwback Thursday during which users post old photos. We’re calling ours Throwback Thirty and will be posting photos and snippets from our 30-year history with you every Thursday on The Bridge at LMTmag.com/ThrowbackThirty. But to make it really fun, we want you to join in!

    We’d like you to...

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  • Life Regrets
    Judy Fishman · The Way I See It · November-December 2013

    It’s inevitable that there’ll be things in our lives we wish we’d have done differently. Regret has value if, instead of dwelling on lost opportunity, it brings about change.

    Last month, at the Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund Awards reception in Philadelphia (see details on page 42), I came face to face with one of those moments of regret: I knew Dr. Shils but I never made it a point to really know him.

    I was 35 when I first met him. He was twice that. Shils was the Executive Director of the Dental Manufacturers of America (DMA) and the Dental Dealers of America (DDA)....

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  • On the Road Again!

    This Fall I’m heading to the great state of Arizona for a couple of months and I’m hoping to meet some laboratory owners while I’m there. I’m also hoping I can make some stops during the drive out (the last week of October) and possibly the first week of January on the drive back.

    Our route takes us through Harrisburg, PA, then along the Pennsylvania Turnpike and over to I-70 and down to I-40. We’ll be going through Columbus, OH; Indianapolis; St. Louis and Springfield, MO; Tulsa and Oklahoma City, OK; then across to Amarillo, TX; Albuquerque, NM; and into Flagstaff,...

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  • Moving Right Along

    We all know it was not an overnight transition but here we are: a genuinely digital industry. There were several years during which you expressed frustration that all the trade magazines placed so much emphasis on CAD/CAM technology. Now you know why! It’s our job to sound the alert when we recognize a change that’s not a fad but a trend that’s about to take over.

    I feel it’s time for us to recognize and claim this transition officially made.

    LMT’s most recent survey data shows that 89% of the C&B and Full Service labs [that participated in our survey] interface...

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  • Bad Dentistry

    What I love most about LMT’s Buyer’s Guide is that it is truly comprehensive.  We do not require participants to pay a single cent to be included in this annual directory.  (Of course, some do choose to enhance their listing visibility with advertising options.)

    This year’s Guide includes 373 manufacturers and suppliers, 85 subcontractors—pretty much on par with last year’s numbers—and includes over 1,600 product trade names which makes us feel pretty good about your ability to find the resources you need to run your laboratory, right here in this one...

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  • Support Staff
    Judy Fishman · The Way I See It · June-July 2013

    This year, the hour hand of the clock seemed to move like the minute hand and suddenly we were at LAB DAY West. It’s the show that marks the end of show season and the show that used to be regional but this year drew attendees from 24 states and nine countries!

    Though each of our shows has its own compelling personality, we love that our last one has that unmistakable, laid-back California vibe. The exhibit hall was flooded from early morning on; attendees came early, stayed all day and visited a lot giving us a chance to catch up with the very many friends we’ve made over the last...

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  • Don't Channel Steve Jobs

    Like most of you, I did not have any kind of formal management training. Instead, my route to figuring out how to do it right was fraught with twists and turns, leaving my early-career staff members confused and unhappy.

    At one point back then, I tried mimicking my boss since everyone responded quickly to his every request. But as soon as I tried talking his talk, he made a beeline to my office to tell me to knock it off. "You have to be you," he said. "You can't 'do' me and expect people to respond well to it; it's not genuine."

    It wasn't the magic bullet but it sunk in and helped me recognize...

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  • We All Scream . . . Because We Can: a Different Kind of Journalism

    Just about every online news story enables readers to add comments at the end of the coverage. It's really wonderful to have this means of voicing our opinions and reactions to things that go on around us. It enhances our desire to belong, feel connected and—most importantly—help one another. This is a new kind of journalism; one that is interactive.

    To a degree, responses often mimic the type of news reported, in terms of substance and energy. When a topic is upbeat, intriguing, beguiling, etc., the posts are likely to match in spirit.

    For example, comments posted to a recent article...

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  • They Want What You've Got . . . and They Need It, Too

    What’s the number one thing most “singles” want in a potential date? Nice teeth.

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  • Love, Loss and the Need For Change

    LMT's home is Newtown, Connecticut. Several of us live here, too.

    When I heard David Wheeler, the father of 6-year-old Sandy Hook shooting victim, Ben, speak last month, I felt his words needed to most urgently be broadcast across our United States. He said: "My wife and I have spent the last month tasked with being the best possible parents for our surviving son, Nate. But what we have recently come to realize is that we are not done being the best parents we can be for Ben. If there is something in our society that needs to be fixed or healed or resolved, it needs a point of origin. It needs...

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  • Passion Fuels the Future Too

    Since everyone's been expressing concern about what will happen to our field when thousands of Boomers retire, we've been taking a hard look at the new generation of dental technology leaders to get a handle on what will become of our community.

    As you can tell from this month's cover feature--40 Under Forty--we're looking at a community that is beautifully bright and has a glorious future. It is young, modern and brilliant just like the talented professionals who will populate it. Their passion for changing lives by creating natural-looking dentition--as well as building lasting relationships...

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  • Tax: a 'Four-Letter Word' . . . With a Deficit

    It would be downright silly to suggest anyone actually likes taxes so it’s no surprise that a coalition of 400 medical device manufacturers voiced its opposition to the 2.3% excise tax on medical devices slated to go into effect January 1, 2013.

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  • Exhausting, But Oh So Enriching

    Every now and then, LMT has the opportunity to shine a light on those who go the extra mile to bring sunshine into someone else's life. In this issue, we get to do it three times. Click the links below to read about Technicians on a Mission—three groups of people in different sections of our country—who donated their time, energy and expertise to those in need.

    For us, hearing these stories was a gift: the topic of charity wasn't coverage we planned for this month. It just happened. We were given stories that were meant for us to tell.

    We've told such stories before and will always...

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  • Who Says You Can't Do It All?

    How about a round of applause for one- to three-person laboratory owners? With almost another decade to go before many of these operators feel "the calling" to retire, they are still very much engaged in the here and now and are clearly living the well-disciplined, well-balanced life. Bravo.

    The results of LMT's comprehensive Small Lab Survey give us the opportunity to celebrate some of the reasons you are all so deeply engaged in this field in the first place, highest among them: a shared passion for replicating natural dentition.

    When the first huge batch of completed surveys came through—both...

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  • Business Boosters Inside LMT

    Many of LMT's articles stem from things we experience here. When the editorial team cooked up the theme for this month's issue, for example, you might say we were all "steamed up." We, too, have business problems that need to be solved.

    In fact, the last quarter of 2011 was a whopper that tested our mettle but with our issues now behind us, we emerged sleeker and wiser for our trials and tribulations. Sometimes the solution to one problem resolves others you don't even realize are nagging at your heels. Here are some issues we've had that may resonate with you:

    PROBLEM: How can I ensure I'm...

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  • The Sky is Falling . . . Not

    We hear that things "out there" could be a lot better: many laboratories are hurting, business is spotty, dentists are slow and, worst of all, we see that price competition has gotten downright ugly. Times are tough.

    It seems like this is "pay-attention-and-think-as-clearly-as-you-can time": time to grapple with what strategies you can employ to thrive in a market gone haywire.

    Is the sky falling on dental technology? Despite the slump coupled with a highly competitive climate, I don't think so.

    People are living longer, the world's population is growing and every one of us needs teeth. So...

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  • Hanging On and Holding Tight

    During the "boom" years of the late 1990s-2008, lab fees made significant gains; in a number of cases, they caught up with or even exceeded the Consumer Price Index. It's not like the lab community has ever measured its fees against cost of living increases but, for the sake of observation, when LMT began tracking lab fees back in the 1980s, we sometimes looked at the rate of inflation as a sort of measure to record growth.

    We are now on the cusp of year five since the economy went bust. As you will read in this issue's biennial Wage Report and next month in our Fee Report, the sense of being...

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