Recently, I was talking to industry veteran George Obst about my startup years and our conversation got me thinking about how the priorities of a small business owner shift as the business matures.
In the beginning, it was all about having enough customers to pay the bills while at the same time making sure our products—the magazine and then LAB DAY—met the needs of the market so we could be sure we’d keep being able to pay those bills. Those were the years of 100-hour workweeks.
Once we established our market presence, we continued to build market share and market value. Four...
Awhile back we had an online debate, via LMTmag.com, about what’s good, better, best when it comes to man-made or machine-engineered restorations. By now, it seems the answer is clear: both. In the same way “art versus science” was the community debate of the 1980s and 90s, I think most technicians would agree that, ideally, it’s a blend.
At LAB DAY this year—as well as at the IDS in Cologne—exactly what became clear is that we mortals have been forced to recognize that machines are, and forever forward will be, our creative partners for many things, including...
We are all still swept up in the vortex of transition to all things digital; while overwhelming, it is also exhilarating. You know exactly what I mean if, like me, you just returned from LMT LAB DAY 2015+ or the IDS in Cologne!
Many of those I spoke to at the show are convinced that great opportunities are out there for them. They know, however, that to recognize their path, they must be ever alert to market trends and product/technology capabilities.
Their conviction, along with the need to have a “student” mentality (persistently learning new ways to do things) is, in itself, a good...
At the NADL’s Vision 21 meeting in Las Vegas, presentations and discussions focused on where dentistry is headed in the next 10-20 years; clearly this is the topic du jour. So much has changed in these last five years that we at LMT could hardly wait to collect and analyze the survey data you so generously provided us with this past fall in preparation for our 2015 State of the Industry series.
What the future looks like is not only the $64,000 question; it’s a downright rhetorical one! In other words, who knows? Bill Gates once made the observation that “most people tend to overestimate...
So many of you are driven by your love for the technology itself that I thought I’d add in my two cents about The Texas Center for Occlusal Studies [minimally invasive, full-mouth rejuvenation dentistry].
Ever since my niece was diagnosed with a Lyme disease-created TMJ disorder—and successfully repaired by Mark Piper, DDS, in St. Petersburg, FL—I’ve had a special, albeit layperson’s, interest in occlusion. So I jumped at the invitation from Lab Owners Curt Mortgese and Center Co-Founder Dan O’Rourke to attend an introductory course on Rejuvenation Dentistry...
A few months ago, my son turned me on to two television reality shows that I feel have merit for anyone who runs a small business or aspires to: The Profit, on CNBC, showcasing the multi-talented Marcus Lemonis, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Camping World; and Fox’s Kitchen Nightmares, starring restaurateur, Chef Gordon Ramsay. Unfortunately, Ramsay retired this series at the end of 2014. Fortunately, there are 123 episodes you can watch on YouTube.
Say what you will about reality TV; these shows are like business school by proxy.
Without knowing any particular market, Lemonis attempts to...
- December 2014
Every now and then something comes along to add spice and extra-rich texture to the make-up of our community and that kind of energy is both welcome and contagious. If you’re familiar with the group that calls itself DTG, the Dental Technicians Guild, you know what I mean. It has an edgy cool that exudes energy and also draws it in. Its goal is to celebrate a passion for restorations that mimic natural dentition in both form and function.
Social media plays a large role in keeping members of the group active and engaged 24/7. DTG members share photos of their work on the Guild’s members-only...
- November 2014
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...
- October 2014
After meeting at LAB DAY West 2013, Sully Samartzis invited LMT’s Judy Fishman to visit his laboratory when she arrived in Arizona later that year. The laboratory is a pristine addition to a gorgeously appointed home, designed by wife Debbie, a professional interior decorator.
In 1999, Sully Samartzis had a toothache on #13. Treatment meant a root canal procedure followed by a crown. Of Greek descent, he’d only been in the U.S. for three months, arriving here from Germany with a degree in electronics and $1,400 to his name.
Intent on being self-employed and, ideally, working from home...
Once she arrived in Arizona last fall, LMT Publisher Judy Fishman visited Scott Atkin, Owner of Creative Milling Dental Laboratory and CEO of Dental Lab Milling Supplies, LLC, in Scottdale, AZ, just as Bentley, Atkin’s massive Bernese Mountain Dog, was headed out for a walk with one of the staff members. Atkin “struck gold” in 2007 by adding a retail component to his business model to stay ahead of what’s trending and increase his revenue base.
“The focus for labs these days needs to be on creating win-win opportunities for themselves and their clients,” says...
With all the bad news about stiff competition and price erosion, I thought we all could use a “feel good” reminder that you deliver an invaluable service to the patients who receive your work; I’m one of them!
In March 2013, I went to a local general practitioner to have number 14 looked at. I was unable to chew without getting a shooting pain. (I wrote about this earlier and, for the details and more photos, go to http://lmtmag.com/series/baddentistry.)
Unfortunately, because this dentist didn’t realize how traumatized the tooth was—and didn’t give it a chance...
- September 2014
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...
- August 2014
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.
- June 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...
- May 2014
In October of 1979, Oscar Mendoza fled for his life to California in the trunk of a car after his uncle was killed in the Salvadoran Civil War.
At the same time 19-year-old Oscar arrived in the U.S., Martha Rico Aguilera arrived from Mexico, 16 and pregnant. Mendoza got a job in an auto detail shop; she in a balloon factory, printing balloons for Disneyland. They met on the bus to their respective jobs and soon got married.
Though they applied for citizenship in the early 1980s, it was a long and ardous path to get there. “We kept meticulous records,” says Oscar, “and that sealed...
Established in 1983, 55-technician Van Hook Dental Studio in Tempe, AZ, specializes in full mouth reconstruction and implants and is taking the lead in the surgical support arena.
Since a large percentage of its dentist-clients are specialists, Van Hook is a complete dental imaging center facility that serves their surgical needs. The facility has a state-of-the-art I-Cat CBCT scanner that’s used for surgical and orthodontic scanning, implant planning and surgical guides.
“Starting with only a CBCT scan, we’re able to combine multiple files to design and fabricate a final restoration,”...
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...
- April 2014
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...
The bucolic town of Central City, Pennsylvania lies five miles down the road from the site of the Flight 93 memorial and not far from the Quecreek coalmine that trapped nine men underground for four days in 2002. It’s also home to Curt Morgese, owner of a one-person, high-end C&B dental laboratory. As of last November, he’s also the district’s borough councilman.
“Making teeth has been a life-long passion,” he says. “I am always on a quest for knowledge in my daily profession.” He is also keen on politics.
He relocated his lab to Central City from Greenburg,...
LMT’s Judy Fishman draws the winning names in Aurident’s annual LAB DAY drawing. Tim Donahue, CDT, LaDouce Dental Laboratory, Saginaw, MI, won a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, and Mark Urlaub, Precision Dental, Omaha, NE, won a 1-oz. Silver Eagle Coin.
Handler Mfg.’s Kevin Foley (left) and LMT President Judy Fishman congratulate Duane Carlson of Liberty Dental in Jackson, MI, the grand prize winner of Handler’s giveaway who took home the Pro Tech Lite PTL-211 bench. Other winners included: Brian Nagle of Renstrom Dental Studio in MN who won a 52CSU Etcher Catcher and Art Uribe of Precision Dental Castings in Skokie, IL who won a Chicago Bears hoodie.
- March 2014
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...
- February 2014
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...
- January 2014
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...