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Andrea Babson was in love. In her search for a new home for her laboratory, she found the perfect building: a charming, 100-year-old, Victorian house. Then, she tore it apart in order to turn the 1,500-sq.-ft....See more structure into a state-of-the-art facility for Eurotek Dental Studio, a four-person C&B lab in Red Bank, New Jersey. It was a labor of love, but it wasn't an easy journey, requiring two years' worth of planning and building renovation before the actual lab construction could even start. Babson worked with an architect to remodel the building and tore down every wall that wasn't weight bearing in order to create a more open floorplan. The electrical system and piping were entirely replaced and much of the home's plaster was replaced with sheetrock. But, according to Babson, the end result has been worth every minute. "It's beyond anything I ever imagined," she says. "It's not only a laboratory, it's somewhere I like to be and I'm more passionate about my work because of my environment." Since 2007, Eurotek has called the first floor of this three-story Victorian building home; the two upper floors are rented as office space. Babson loves the charming historic features like the house's original chestnut stairwell leading to her office space above the lab. However, the house's advanced age did prevent her from adding all of her desired elements. For example, due to limited space she couldn't have a separate room for custom shades, so she improvises by taking them at her bench. The laboratory's design is heavily influenced by Babson's time spent working in a Swedish lab, where she says the environment was very relaxed. To accomplish a similar feel, Babson used contrasting light and dark colors, and blended the house's historic charm with contemporary items such as vases, photographs and a Frank Lloyd Wright-style glass window. After visiting several labs, Babson compiled a checklist of attributes she wanted in her own lab, including plenty of space, ergonomic layout, and equipment and systems that would help keep the lab spotless. She worked with Freuding USA's Peter Freuding to select African birch benches with aluminum tops as well as furniture for the reception area, model room and casting area. More Design Showcases: Daymude Dental Studio: Room For Future Growth in Peoria, Arizona A Dream Come True For Continental Dental Laboratory Summit Dental Lab: An Energy-Efficient Expansion
In 1999, Gary and Darlene Daymude opened Daymude Dental Studio in the garage of their home. They eventually outgrew the space and moved to a 4,000-sq.-ft. building, but the facility was far from perfect....See more "It was a 40-year-old building, with the departments divided up all over," says Daymude. "The only way we could have stayed there any longer would have been to completely gut it." Instead, the couple opted to build a 5,000-sq.-ft., state-of-the-art facility in Peoria, Arizona to house its 10 employees. To accommodate future growth, they installed 20 two-person workstations so it could easily accommodate up to 40 technicians. Representatives from NevinLabs (now part of the DentalEZ® Group) assisted Daymude in designing the facility and ensuring it would be equipped to handle the requirements of a laboratory, from power supplies to air hoses. "Nevin helped things go up with the organized efficiency of an erector set," says Daymude. The new facility has provided a boost to employee morale. "Because of the crispness and newness of the facility, people really enjoy coming to work," says Daymude. "I'm proud of the good working conditions and it's a joy to work in a nice facility." Daymude admits that the transition to the new building and its layout required some getting used to, but says his employees adjusted wonderfully. "We moved on a Friday, and everyone sat down at their benches on Monday and got to work," he says. Workflow is streamlined from the moment a case enters the laboratory. It moves from the reception area to the model room, then on to the die trim, waxing and metal finishing areas. "It's set up like a small circle and provides an easy transition from place to place," says Daymude. He helped employees feel like a valued part of the planning process by giving every worker a copy of blueprints and asking for input. While he wasn't able to include everyone's ideas, Daymude incorporated some suggestions in the plans, like an open atmosphere in the waiting room that allows patients to watch technicians go about their work while waiting to get shades taken. Daymude Dental has a state-of-the-art training facility that accommodates up to 30 attendees. It features an eight-foot drop-down video screen, overhead projector, audio/visual feed wired directly to the lab's operatory and kitchenette. "The training center is a very good draw for dentists and a good way to get to know them and become better partners," says Daymude. More Design Showcases: A Dream Come True For Continental Dental Laboratory Eurotek Dental Studio: Historic Home For a Modern Lab Summit Dental Lab: An Energy-Efficient Expansion
"We're still dreaming," says Laboratory Manager Julie Dewane of Continental Dental's move from its cramped, outdated building into a new 12,000-sq.-ft. facility in July 2008. She notes that clients...See more are just as enthralled with the lab's new digs. "The doctors we work with are very proud to bring their patients here, because our lab is an extension of their practice and it makes them look good too." Continental Dental Laboratory is a National Dentex lab, employs 48 people and is located in Phoenix. The first glimpse visitors get of Continental is an elegant reception area featuring rich wood and river rock accents, ceramic tile flooring and the Continental logo--a technician at work--inlaid in marble on the floor. The reception area also includes an adjacent shade-taking room for patient comfort and privacy. In the old facility, departments were separated by walls and a lack of space created disorganization. The new facility gives technicians a lot more elbow room as well as a more efficient design; large, open departments allow work to flow in one continuous direction instead of backtracking. "It's also a lot easier to communicate," says David Rogers, production manager and director of training and education. "You can look around and see who is at his bench at any moment. People are just happier now and happier technicians make for a better product." Continental features a dedicated education room with three workstations, and the laboratory now trains technicians using the PTC system; employees have embraced the new training room and education program. "Our technicians are always asking 'when do I get to go again?'," says Dewane. "They're afraid they're missing out." The lab's Nevin benches feature esthetic, white Corian surfaces that compliment the bright, open space, thanks to plenty of windows and natural light. The state-of-the-art lab equipment includes a Bego USA Nautilus induction casting machine; LaserStar laser welder; and an energy-efficient, on-demand Zubler vacuum unit at each workstation. More Design Showcases: Daymude Dental Studio: Room For Future Growth in Peoria, Arizona Eurotek Dental Studio: Historic Home For a Modern Lab Summit Dental Lab: An Energy-Efficient Expansion
Once the focus of great controversy, Interdent in Manila has grown to a staff of 700 and regularly services a few hundred laboratories in 78 countries. Jerry Doviack used to be shunned at laboratory...See more meetings. Now, 25 years later, laboratory owners are flocking to him for advice. Jerry and his wife, Tina, owners of Continental Dental Laboratory in California, are the pioneers in offshore laboratory work. In the early 1980s--wary of a declining economy, soaring gold prices, HMOs and other disturbing trends in the insurance industry--the Doviacks began researching the feasability of offshore production. They settled on the Philippines and, in 1984, opened Interdent, Inc.--operating completely independently from Continental--to provide outsourcing services to laboratories around the world. Although that out-of-the-box thinking didn't make them popular at the time, things have come full circle. "It's amazing how much attitudes have changed. Offshore lab work is no longer taboo and although we blazed the trail, many have followed suit," says Jerry. "It's reaffirming when people come up to me and ask, 'Jerry, how did you know it was the thing to do?' The truth is I didn't at the time. It was a big risk." Building Interdent in the early years was an uphill battle given the industry's resistance to offshore production, but the Doviacks initially received support from large laboratories in Germany and Scandinavia; a few years later, some U.S. laboratories came on board. But even then, Jerry knew the key to growth was to develop an understanding of the expectations in each country's laboratory market, since each uses different systems and has varying ideas about esthetics. For example, despite their geographic proximity, France and Germany design their restorations completely differently, says Jerry, and the Hollywood smile still hasn't caught on in Europe, where the expectation is for natural-looking restorations, tetracycline stains and all. "We knew we wouldn't be successful if we were merely one big lab churning out a one-size-fits-all restoration," says Jerry. "Our goal has been to produce a highly customized product." In order to get to that point, Jerry spent much of Interdent's first decade on the road every day, traveling to laboratory customers in different countries and learning their systems and preferences. Back at Interdent, he trained individual teams of technicians to do the work expected by each market. Today, there are 38 teams of technicians who specialize in laboratory work for different countries. In some cases, labs send enough volume to get their own dedicated team that communicates daily with case updates. "They get consistency; the work matches their preferences and goes through our two-step quality control process performed by American CDTs and dentists on staff," says Jerry. "It's like having their own lab within our lab." A production resource From the outset, it was the Doviacks' vision to work only with labs, not dentists, which still holds true today, aside from some local business from dentists in Manila. "Our intention was always to be a production resource for other laboratories," says Tina. "The local laboratory can give its own dentist-clients what they want better than we can: expertise, experience and support." Of course, over the past decade, competition from other offshore outsourcers has continued to heat up. Fully aware that many of these laboratories focus on price alone--"it's almost a race to the bottom," says Tina--Interdent continues to emphasize value-added benefits and foster relationships with its laboratory customers. For example, Interdent has customers around the globe who send more than 500 units a month, and these laboratories get "white glove" treatment. Not only do they have their own team of technicians at Interdent, but they do receive preferred pricing, as well as faster turnaround and discounted supplies, including Mona Lisa teeth, Interdent's private label, three-layer denture tooth. Interdent also has its own plastics division which manufactures the laboratory's patented case boxes, provided at no charge to its customers; custom-printed packaging is also available. The box is designed to reduce shipping costs by keeping shipments within specific weight and size limits. "Anyone doing business offshore knows that the shipping costs are monumental; it's the second largest expense for us after labor," says Jerry. "So not only do we reduce our costs with these boxes, but we provide them to our customers because we don't ever want shipping costs to be an obstacle to doing business with us." Interdent today Twenty-five years later, the Doviacks aren't resting on their laurels. Jerry's still traveling--to Manila once a week and also to lab customers around the world--and maintains that although they were ahead of the curve, success didn't come easily. "It took, and continues to take, a lot of hard work. We have staying power because we diversified and didn't rely on one single geographic market. That's what helped us survive the ups and downs."
In 2003, Summit Dental Lab had outgrown its 5,000-sq.-ft. facility in Waco, Texas. Owners Hal and Glenda Jones decided to gut and renovate the existing building and also build an addition. After 26...See more months of planning and construction, the lab expanded to 11,000 square feet and today has 38 employees. Hal Jones sent blueprints of the lab to the Dental Art team in Italy, and it gave the laboratory several different options for bench layouts. U.S.-based Dental Arte's Massimo Sasso then worked personally with Summit to refine the final look, including meeting one of his special requests: incorporating marine edges--raised lips around the edge of a countertop to prevent spills--in the model room benches. The lab also worked closely with Zahn in selecting equipment, including handpieces, steam cleaners, porcelain ovens and Renfert sandblasting units. Summit features an open-air, octagonal design to maximize workflow and communication. The lab's central area houses the waxing department, separated only by a series of Greek columns supporting an arched ceiling. Surrounding the waxing department are ceramics, metal finishing and offices, all within a technician's line of sight from his bench. When separate rooms were necessary--as with the quality control, metal and sandblasting rooms--Jones designed long, horizontal windows and clear glass doors for plenty of visibility into and out of the work areas. Sweltering Texas summers can drive energy costs through the roof, so Jones devised an efficient plan to keep the lab cool. Instead of using standard air conditioning systems, he turned to geo-thermal wells. The underground system uses 72 240-ft. wells and an 18,000-foot closed loop piping system to cool water and produce cold air. The system saves the lab 40% annually on cooling costs. Summit also cuts its energy consumption with an automatic Zubler suction system connected to 22 workstations throughout the lab. The system's computer recognizes how many suction stations are running at a given time and adjusts the necessary output accordingly. Jones choose Dental Art's Penta line of benches for their ergonomic features like removable armrests and multi-position footrests. The metal, powder-coated benches also include self-contained, variable-speed vacuum units; removable suction ports with eye shields; and color-corrected lights that illuminate three-square feet of benchtop. The lab's offices, sinks and disinfection areas feature granite countertops. Before the renovation, Summit didn't have room for a separate in-house training room for its staff or clients. Now, the lab has its own 2,000-sq.-ft., high-tech seminar room with audio/visual hookups to a projection system and outlets and wireless internet connectivity for laptops. The lab also rents out the space as a state-of-the-art meeting space to local businesses. Adjacent to the seminar room is a kitchen and break room the staff affectionately dubs "the Food Court." Employees can cook in the full kitchen and catering services are provided here for all seminars. The room features an electric fireplace and reproductions of paintings by classic artists like DaVinci. Along the hallway separating the Food Court from the lab, large plaques feature photographs of all Summit employees and how long they've been with the laboratory. More Design Showcases: Daymude Dental Studio: Room For Future Growth in Peoria, Arizona A Dream Come True For Continental Dental Laboratory Eurotek Dental Studio: Historic Home For a Modern Lab