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Owner: Greg Thayer
Ever wish you had an extra day in the week to run errands, go to appointments, spend time with family or just chill out? The employees at Thayer Dental Laboratory have just that thanks to the lab’s four-day workweek adopted in 2005.
“Ninety-five percent of our technical personnel work four, 10-hour days and that provides them with a better balance for their personal life to enjoy hobbies, interests or time with children,” says Lab Administrator Robert Gitman. The laboratory compresses its turnaround times to meet delivery dates and just a handful of staff—like the lab manager, a few technicians and delivery people—work Monday through Friday to ensure clients’ needs are met.
As if a three-day weekend each week isn’t enough, Thayer’s benefits package is also the cream of the crop. In addition to covering 80% of employees’ healthcare and prescription premiums, it offers many benefits that...
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Headquartered in Newport Beach
Owner: Jim Glidewell, CDT
2,375 employees at four locations
Working at Glidewell is like being part of an exclusive club: technicians get members-only, no- and low-cost benefits they wouldn’t have access to anywhere else.
Case in point: Health and wellness is a priority and, in 2012, Glidewell opened the GlideWELLness Center located on its campus in Irvine, CA. The center includes an 4,100-sq-ft gym with cardio equipment, weights, fitness classes and a meditation room; a private, walk-in health clinic that offers reduced co-payments; and massage therapy where technicians pay just $15 for a 30-minute massage. The lab also offers on-site vaccinations; monthly wellness “Lunch-n-Learns” on stress management, nutrition, yoga and more; and reduced-cost services from the lab’s four on-staff dentists.
The staffs’ other amazing perks include:
• A “Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies” program that offers one-on-one guidance...
Owners: Randy & Daxton Grubb
When Daxton Grubb joined his father Randy’s laboratory in 2002 after working at a Fortune 500 company, he had already learned a thing or two about employee motivation. “The company set unrealistic goals and only managers were rewarded for good performance. I was determined not to make the same mistake here,” says Grubb.
While 20 to 30% of R-Dent’s managers’ compensation is based on their department’s net profit, Daxton also has sales and incentive programs for all employees. First, there are monthly incentives: employees get $100 if their department reaches its monthly sales goals, or $200 if it exceeds its goals by at least 10%. In addition, performance-based incentives are given every three months; Daxton allocates a percentage of the previous quarter’s profit to bonuses based both on production goals and intangibles like teamwork and attitude.
On top of the bonuses, an employee recognition...
Owners: Barry Lampert, CDT; David Lampert, MBA; Steven Lampert
“From his early days as a lab owner, Barry Lampert, CDT, trained and nurtured his staff in a way that is quite unique. He respects his technicians and believes they are his greatest asset. The fact that the majority of employees have been here for decades—some for over 40 years—is testament to his commitment to them.
The second generation of Lamperts—namely Barry’s sons, David and Steven—have brought a new level of integrity, compassion and insight into business development. The environment they’ve cultivated is one of mutual respect and success—not only for the lab but for each of their employees.
Barry’s philosophy is to keep the lab in showplace condition; equipment is continually maintained and office and lab furnishings are constantly being replaced. Nothing is left unattended and it has created a great environment in which to produce quality...
Owner: Jerry Kaizer
While some labs tout a fancy facility or robust benefits package, there’s one thing Murray Kaizer Dental Laboratory has that others simply can’t match: Owner Jerry Kaizer.
“Jerry is half parent, half boss,” says Sabrina Janco, a Sales Representative at the lab who’s known Kaizer since 1977. “He looks out for the best interest of the company as well as his ‘kids,’ striving to teach us how not only to be great technicians and employees, but good people.” Considered a father figure by many, Kaizer—who calls his employees the “next generation of the Murray Kaizer family”—goes above and beyond to help his staff. One employee who was struggling with his weight confided in him that he wanted to get healthy but didn’t know where to start. So, in lieu of giving him a yearly raise, Kaizer bought him a year-long gym membership plus a year’s worth of personal training....
Owner: Michael Adkins
The team members at Twin City Dental Lab in Lewiston, ME, are so tight, they worked together to build their own laboratory.
Prior to 2003, the lab was housed in the basement of a professional building and while the space offered some unique features—for instance, an old bank vault served as the lunch room—employees dealt with poor lighting and cramped conditions. So in 2003, Owner Michael Adkins purchased land and broke ground for a new laboratory.
Devoting nights and weekends to the project, the 16 employees—along with spouses and good friends—helped raise walls, swing hammers, sweep debris, run internet cables and telephone wires, paint and even brought warm food to keep workers going. “We started working the land in the summer of 2003, had the radiant heat and foundation poured before frost and walls up before Thanksgiving; the building was open for business by January of 2004,” says Jessica Hilton, the...
Headquartered in Seneca Falls, NY
Owner: Bruce Bonafiglia, CDT
200 employees across three locations
Striking a work-life balance is a constant challenge for many of us. How can I squeeze in a workout? Who will watch the kids? When will I fit in a haircut or get the laundry done? And what’s for dinner tonight? If you work at BonaDent, all of those answers can be found within the four walls of its new, state-of-the-art facility in Seneca Falls, NY.
BonaDent’s unique amenities truly make employees feel valued and taken care of: the in-house fitness center, onsite daycare, comprehensive wellness program, weekly visits from a masseuse, and a modern hair and nail salon. Angelo’s Café (named after Angelo Bonafiglia, Founder) provides convenient and healthy choices for breakfast, lunch and take-home dinners, and the coffee shop, Brew C’s (named after Bruce Bonafiglia, President) serves up gourmet lattes and coffee daily. Employees can even use the lab’s...
San Ramon, CA
President: Laura Kelly, AAACD
Laura Kelly, President of LK Dental Studio in San Ramon, CA, is a member of an elite group and wants her technicians to join her. One of the only 42 American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD)-accredited technicians in the world and former President of the organization, she strongly encourages her 12 technicians to further their education and become involved in the AACD, the largest international organization of dentists, technicians, auxiliaries and educators dedicated specifically to cosmetic dentistry.
Two of her employees are already involved in the organization: Rocksand Grogan plans to pursue the accreditation process and Dave Stohlman has completed the written exam and is now a sustaining member. LK Dental Studio paid for Stohlman to take the exam and continues to support him as he progresses through the clinical case portion of the accreditation process by giving him time during his workday to work on cases. He has...
Owner: Don Albensi, Sr.
When Albensi Laboratories says its employees receive a Total Rewards Program, it means total. Along with paying 100% of the staffs’ medical, vision and dental coverage, the lab also provides flexible working hours, life insurance, a 401(k) program with matching and access to a financial advisor. The laboratory even offers a 12-week Fit Camp—including aerobic classes, strength training and advice on healthy eating—twice a year and pays 50% of the cost for each employee.
Benefits like these are what led the staff to vote the laboratory one of the 2013 Top Workplaces in the area in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. They also helped Owner and CEO, Don Albensi Sr., earn the newspaper’s title of Top Boss of a small business.
Albensi, who opened the lab in 1979, has grown the business from three to 94 employees by creating a positive atmosphere and acting more like a coach than a boss, according to Technical Manager Ernie...
Owners: Ira Dickerman, CDT, and Myron Dickerman, CDT
Once a technician starts working at Dickerman Dental Prosthetics, he has a tendency to stick around. Of the lab’s 26 employees, 62% have worked at the lab for at least 10 years and another 23% have been with the lab for over 30. “Working together for so long has created a strong bond between employees and an atmosphere where the days at the lab are as valuable as days off,” says Jim Pollina, C&B Manager and Dickerman employee since 1977.
So how does this third-generation family operation earn the loyalty of its staff? In addition to a four-day workweek that helps employees achieve a work-life balance, the lab’s willingness to be an early adopter of new technologies—such as digital technology and implants—keeps the staff motivated, interested and challenged.
For instance, in the 1980s, Dickerman was involved in fabricating the first Bränemark Hybrid Prosthesis...
Owner: Mike Robertson, CDT
At Robertson Dental Lab, aspiring CDTs don’t need to take the journey alone. Eight months ago, inspired by technician Karlena Schutz, General Manager Tom Love created a CDT Study Club that meets once a week after the lab closes to help the eight technician-members learn from one another. The lab provides the study materials—including a visual dictionary from PTC and chapters from the Air Force manual—and each week the members take turns choosing a topic, leading the discussion and quizzing others on their grasp of the information. “Once the technicians took ownership of the club, they became vested and it really came to life,” says Love, who is also a member of the club and plans to take the CDT exam in June with the rest of the group. “As a result, we’ve cultivated a very supportive environment where we’re all challenging each other and supporting each other’s goal.”
Owner: Ron Humphrey
It’s a crisp winter day and the sun is shining on Cougar Mountain in Issaquah, WA…just another day of spectacular views for the staff at Northwest Dental Arts. The second-floor boutique lab features an open floor plan with huge windows on all sides. All eight employees have a view of Cougar Mountain including the deer, bobcats and many varieties of birds that live there, as well as Poo Poo Point, a popular take-off spot for hang gliders. Technicians sit at custom maple workbenches designed by Owner Ron Humphrey and a contractor, and clear Plexiglas shelves keep the view unobstructed. “My employees are the backbone of this lab,” says Humphrey. “They spend eight to nine hours a day here and I wanted to create an atmosphere of which they can feel proud.”
Owners: Hal and Glenda Jones
“Hal and Glenda Jones are exceptional people first, exceptional employers second. I’ve been working here for 13 years and their genuine care for their employees shows throughout the company,” says Mikki Davis, Ceramist at Waco, TX-based Summit Dental Lab, echoing the resounding sentiment of the employees, a third of whom have worked there for a decade or more.
The Joneses believe that each employee’s character determines his ability to contribute positively to the team as a whole and enhances the quality of its products and services, as well as the work environment. So, in addition to providing a four-day workweek, outstanding benefits and hundreds of CE hours a year, Summit also offers personal development seminars on subjects such as health, financial management and character development. The package also includes the Employee Assistance Program, which includes visits from corporate chaplains as well as a...
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Owner: Jeff Paulen
“When I think ofall the reasons why New Image Dental Laboratory is a great place to work, it comes down to the Owner, Jeff Paulen, and his family. The Paulens are committed to helping us be the best we can be in our industry. They help us improve our skills by paying for all of our training at both on- and off-site courses and always make sure we have whatever we need to do our jobs in a healthy, clean, safe and secure environment, whether it’s new equipment, additional training or hiring staff. Working at New Image has enriched my life. And did I mention our amazing 25,000-sq-ft facility, employee luncheons, monthly birthday cakes, bonuses, Alaskan cruises for 20-year employees and parties for our families at their lake house? I couldn’t ask for more.”
~Fay Ashley, Director of Customer Relations
Owner: National Dentex; Lab President: Lynn Jenkins
“H&O Dental Lab valuescomplete honesty and trust; open, two-way communication; mutual respect; individual accountability; and total commitment. Management always acknowledges team member accomplishments such as first, fifth, 10th, 15th, 20th and 25th anniversaries; perfect attendance; and achieving CDT certification. We also have monthly themed events for various holidays and traditions.
To ensure open communication, we have morning huddles, a 15-minute meeting during which each section leader discusses the upcoming day; weekly department meetings; and quarterly lab-wide meetings. To encourage people to share their ideas, the lab recently installed a suggestion box and conducts team surveys and focus groups to measure the effectiveness of communication strategies and discuss ways to further encourage open-door policies. Everyone’s voice is valued, and that makes me feel like a part of the team...
Mount Vernon, NY
Owner: Andrea Tintrup
When Frank Tintrup, Jr., Owner of family-owned Tintrup Dental Lab in Mount Vernon, NY, passed away at the end of 2000 from pancreatic cancer, no one expected his wife Andrea Tintrup to step up the way she did. Without any previous laboratory experience, she walked into the lab in January 2001, called a staff meeting and ensured the staff that she was going to work her hardest to make sure everyone kept their jobs and could cash their paychecks every Friday. She has been keeping that promise for the last 14 years.
Despite her personal tragedy and the challenges of running a business, Tintrup has never waivered from her commitment to her team. Whether it’s bringing in home-cooked meals for the technicians, buying glasses for an employee who needed them, or always promoting from within, she knows the importance of taking care of her own. “I’m 110% devoted to this 75-year-old laboratory and am very proud it bears my family...
Owner: Jerry Ulaszek
Twice a year, no matter what, Artistic Dental Studio in Bolingbrook shuts down for the day to celebrate its staff. While the first order of business is to share news and updates such as OSHA standards or HR information, after that, it’s time for some post-meeting fun. Past events have included a trip to a go-cart track, a bowling alley (featured above), a cruise down the Chicago River or simply game day at the lab. Breakfast and lunch is served and each employee receives a gift card for gas, food or a restaurant. “The functions reward our entire staff for the hard work it puts in,” says Business Manager Michael Bottigliero.
Headquartered in Ottawa, IL
Owners: Luke Caruso Sr., Luke Caruso Jr. and Jim Caruso
130 employees across three locations
If you’re at an industry meeting and meet a group of people with blinking lights on their shoes, chances are they work at Ottawa Dental Laboratory (ODL).
That blinking light would be an Actiped pedometer, a component of the laboratory’s comprehensive wellness program, which earned ODL recognition as one of the 100 Healthiest Workplaces in America for 2014, as well as the Healthiest Employer in Illinois for 2012 and 2013.
In 2004—after a string of double-digit increases in health insurance premiums—the laboratory developed a wellness program, which now includes on-site voluntary health screenings and incentive points for making healthy choices like exercise or annual physicals. The points can then be redeemed for a variety of items including movie tickets, hotel stays, digital cameras and TVs.
A cornerstone of the activity part of the program is...
Owner: Lonni Thompson, CDT
More and more thrill seekers are getting into the zipline craze, flying high over forests, zoos and parks around the country. Touted for the adrenaline rush, this outdoor adventure experience has also proven to be a valuable team-building experience for Image Gallery in Dublin, OH.
Two years ago, Owner Lonni Thompson took her employees ziplining, a first for everyone on staff. “We encouraged each other—some of us were scared of heights—so as we walked across ‘sky bridges,’ we talked and laughed away our fears,” recalls Office Manager Lisa Damron. Even the hour drive to the zipline course was a chance to grow closer. “We squeezed into one car and drove down together,” says Damron. “We talked, laughed and shared stories along the way, as well as our excitement about the adventure ahead.”
Thompson also holds events to recognize a job well done. For instance, when the staff completed...
Owner: Dr. James Hartzel, CDT, and Edwin Fajardo
“One day, we knew we weren’t going to make the shipping deadline for a case for one of our larger accounts on the East Coast. But we also knew we weren’t going to let that client down. The case was finished at 8:00pm and I was at the airport within an hour; 12 hours, four flights, two cab rides and a bunch of protein bars later, I was delivering that case to the dental office as the patient was walking in.
To me, my travel experience speaks volumes about the culture of this laboratory: we will always go the extra mile to keep our customers happy. Because Dr. Hartzel is a retired dentist as well as a technician, he’s able to give us all a unique perspective on what our dentist-clients really need from us. I’m really thankful to be part of a team that is so passionate about our work and our clients.
In only three years, we have transitioned from a C&B lab to a full service...
Owner: Curt Gardali
“I’ve been at this lab for eight years and am still excited to get up and go to work to try and make a difference in our patients’ lives. As an artist, it has been a great place for me to develop my skills and knowledge. The owner of the lab, Curt Gardali, is one of the most inspiring people I have had the honor to apprentice with. His knowledge in the field of dental technology continues to humble me.
We have employees who have been with us for over 50 years and still love coming to work. Our laboratory is very modern, clean, and comfortable and our patients love coming in for custom shading or photos. We love hearing them comment on our ‘Zen-like’ atmosphere! I hope to be at this lab for many years to come.”
~Jason Clark, Ceramist/IT Specialist
Cedar Knolls, NJ
Owners: Yukio Otsubo, President; Yoshinobu Umeda, Vice President; and Ikuzo Enoki, Production Manager
In January 2000, Kuwata Pan Dent, founded by Masahiro Kuwata, became one of the first laboratories in the U.S. to achieve ISO 9001 certification, verifying that it has established and thoroughly documented a quality management system; the lab has been recertified four times since 2000.
Not only does ISO certification ensure consistent quality products and services, for its staff members it means responsibilities and accountability are well defined, there’s a systematic way of doing things and everyone is on the same page. There is an emphasis on continuous improvement and finding more efficient ways of working together, reducing waste and improving the customer experience.
“Because we adhere to ISO standards, our staff is very professional, artistically talented and geared toward achieving consistent quality. Working here is a pleasurable...
Owner: Benjamin Hart
A 50” HD TV. Ping-Pong tables. Sony PlayStation. Workout equipment. These are just a few of the amenities with which Owner Benjamin Hart has equipped the third-floor of Custom Arts Dental Lab.
Designed as a recreational area for employees, the upstairs also includes a full kitchen, laundry area, and adjoining deck with patio furniture and large gas grill. After all, Hart believes his staff is his family, and when a family gets together, it should always feel right at home.
Hart’s efforts, though, aren’t restricted to the third floor. During Halloween, for example, he turns the bottom floor of the lab into a haunted house and hosts an annual costume party at his home. There are also Christmas and Thanksgiving get-togethers and the annual Crawfish Boil on Memorial Day. “He truly treats everyone like they are part of his family,” says Office Manager Christina Turner. “I know I will never find a better place to work.”
Owner: Warren Rogers
Knight Dental Group considers its employees so valuable, they’re included in the company’s mission statement: “Our employees are one of our most precious resources; we will treat them with respect and provide a state-of-the-art facility with continuing education and a quality-centered environment.”
True to its word, the lab provides the latest equipment and materials in its sparkling, 23,000-sq-ft facility as well as top-notch training. In addition to bringing speakers in house eight times a year, managers create individualized training programs for technicians, sending them to courses both locally and across the country depending on what skills they need to acquire.
Knight is also very supportive of technicians seeking a CDT designation. For instance, in addition to hosting CDT tests, the lab offers a CDT Study Group that meets during the workday for two hours once a week for five months. It also covers all expenses—projector,...
Owner: Dental Services Group; Area Vice President: Kim Jones
Twice named one of West Michigan’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, DSG Davis has found numerous ways to create a work environment where employees feel excited about coming to work each day. “Even though we’re owned by a corporation, Dental Services Group, management has maintained a family-like atmosphere,” says Dan Smith, CDT, Crown and Bridge Supervisor.
For example, the lab promotes work-life balance by allowing employees, when feasible, to set their own start time and adjust their schedules when they have appointments during the day. To encourage healthier lifestyles, the lab installed a new vending machine with healthier food options. In its annual walking challenges, employees receive a pedometer and win gift cards based on the number of steps they walk per month.
Employees are encouraged to showcase their artistic talents in numerous contests, including...