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There are technicians attracted to the artistic side of dental technology, and then there's Mike Wandling. "I love the math, science and biology that's involved," he says. "This field has a little bit of all of those things and I enjoy using them to enhance a person's look and function."
Since joining Keller Laboratories as a metal finisher 11 years ago, Wandling has steadily worked his way up the ladder, handling a variety of positions including investing/casting, waxing, fixed quality control, and training and development; today he serves as Fixed Production Manager overseeing a department of over 60 technicians.
Driving this ambitious technician is his desire to be the best he can be and to serve as a good example for the rest of the Keller staff. For instance, when the lab was planning to host its first CDT exam a few years ago, Wandling—then the Director of Training and Education for the fixed department—encouraged his technicians to become certified. He wasn't yet certified and says he "felt a responsibility to step up and practice what I was preaching" so he too sat for the exam, got his CDT in C&B and, the following year, earned a CDT in ceramics as well.
He also had a long-time dream of earning his MBA so, in 2010, he went back to school and, for two years, juggled work and school as well as a family--including three young children. "It was a total lifestyle change and I didn't have much free time for anything. Even my lunches were consumed with homework," says Wandling, who finished his MBA in May. "But it was worth it. Earning that degree and what I learned about management and strategic planning has been invaluable to me in this position and demonstrates my commitment to the laboratory."
Keller's Fixed Manager Dave Swedholm agrees. "Mike is able to see the big picture and can quickly make adjustments and decisions to positively affect both production and the business needs of the organization. His commitment to education, technology and production makes him an excellent role model for the Keller staff and others entering the dental laboratory field."
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