Marisa Birnbaum doesn't back down from a challenge. In 2007, she and her brother David—who both learned about CAD technology at the Bronx High School of Science—opened a mobile laboratory operation with little laboratory or business experience, using the CEREC inlab system to make same-day crowns. Marisa did all the technical work while David handled sales and marketing.
In 2010, when the economy took its toll, she and David decided to switch gears and scrap the mobile concept. "The original business didn't pan out, but I knew the industry was still a great place to be," says Marisa. "I love the artistic part of the work, the blend of old and new technologies and the fact that a big part of the job is problem solving." The pair decided to try the traditional laboratory business model and began looking for a permanent space where they could expand their services.
When they connected with Max Klein, Owner of five-person Accutec of New York, who was renting space in his lab, the meeting seemed fateful. Klein was looking to retire; Marisa and David, young and hungry, wanted to grow. The three clicked and with the long-term goal of the Birnbaums eventually acquiring his lab, Klein began training Marisa on all of the traditional techniques she didn't know, including waxing, porcelain and metal work, casting, investing and more.
"Since I had CAD/CAM experience, I learned the process in reverse. Training on the job has been challenging but seeing real-life cases was an ideal way to learn and Max was a great mentor," says Marisa, who also sought out education via trade shows, internet research and webinars.
After two years, Marisa is now proficient in all fabrication techniques, the Birnbaums have slowly taken over Accutec's accounts and hired additional staff members, and Klein is in the process of phasing himself out. As the lab grows, Marisa is training new technicians so she can eventually focus more on overall technical operations, troubleshooting, staff management and helping clients get involved in CAD/CAM technology.
"We couldn't have made this transition without Marisa. As the 'quarterback' of our whole lab, she has to handle tons of different things that are thrown at her every day," says brother David. "She really does it all. She rocks!"