When Ivoclar Vivadent North America launched what became known as the Esthetic Revolution in the 1990s, one journalist said then-President Robert A. Ganley was endangering the company by focusing on one area. To the contrary, Ganley said, Ivoclar Vivadent’s leadership was preserving the future of the company by focusing on that area. Decades later, that was just one of many prescient statements made by Ganley, who will retire in June after 39 years with Ivoclar Vivadent, the last 16 as the company’s global CEO.
“Everything in between [then and now] has been great,” Ganley told AEGIS Dental Network in an exclusive interview at the 2019 International Dental Show (IDS) in Cologne, Germany.
Ganley joined Ivoclar Vivadent as a Vice President in 1980 and was named President of the North America business in 1990—the first big decision that then-CEO Christoph Zeller made after assuming a controlling interest in the company. Ganley eventually succeeded Zeller as CEO in 2003 when the latter became Chairman of the company’s Supervisory Board. In June, Ganley will move to a role on the company’s Supervisory Board, and Zeller will step down as Chairman.
“People rightly give Bob credit for the Esthetic Revolution and transforming Ivoclar Vivadent from a great company to an iconic company on a global scale,” AEGIS Dental Network CEO Daniel W. Perkins says of Ganley, who was named one of the Most Influential People in Dental Technology in 2016 by Inside Dental Technology. “However, Bob’s vision of the Esthetic Revolution and the products that followed was a rising tide that raised all boats across the industry and profession. We are all better off from that vision.”
AEGIS Dental Network President Anthony A. Angelini adds: “Bob’s leadership, enthusiasm, and passion for excellence have always been impressive. These qualities have motivated his team to develop new technologies to better serve the needs of today’s dentists and laboratories.”
In addition to starting the Esthetic Revolution—and coining that phrase—Ganley has been credited with pushing the envelope for stronger and less-invasive dental materials, such as IPS e.max; more than 150 million IPS e.max restorations have been placed worldwide, according to Ivoclar Vivadent.
“Robert Ganley’s inspirational and transformative influence on the dental laboratory industry over these past 40 years has been immense,” IDT Founding Editor Pam Johnson says. “He will be long remembered as a friend of the dental laboratory industry and the visionary who championed the all-ceramic Esthetic Revolution.”
Ganley humbly attributes much of the company’s success to the team around him.
“Passion, vision, and innovation are the driving forces behind our success,” he says. “They define our direction and shape our solutions.”
On the philanthropic front, Ganley has overseen donations of millions of dollars by Ivoclar Vivadent to dental associations and not-for-profit outreach efforts, including this year’s donation of a Harley-Davidson softail classic motorcycle that raised more than $15,000 for the Foundation for Dental Laboratory Technology. Ganley also has maintained Ivoclar Vivadent’s global commitment to providing underserved populations with access to oral health care through product donations and initiatives such as Give Kids a Smile Day, the Wisdom Tooth Project, and missionary service groups.
Among many honors in his distinguished career, Ganley was presented this year with the Lifetime Achievement Evy Award by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) for demonstrating “significant achievement in the cosmetic dentistry or restorative dentistry fields both personally and professionally.” He also received a Special Recognition Award by the National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL).
“He has been a vocal advocate for the dental laboratory community and made it part of his mission to give back through causes such as the Foundation for Dental Laboratory Technology,” NADL President Travis Zick says. “Bob’s visionary leadership will be missed.”
Business First Buffalo honored him with the Excellence in Health Care Award, recognizing Ganley as being among the top men and women in the Western New York health care industry.
Ganley’s leadership led not only to the development of premier all-ceramic restorative materials but also to comprehensive digital solutions for dental laboratories and practices.
“Robert Ganley is truly a visionary who transformed the dental technology landscape by innovating disruptive processes, technologies, and products that altered the profession,” says Leonard B. Kobren, DDS, Chair of the American College of Prosthodontists’ Education Foundation.
Diego Gabathuler will succeed Ganley as CEO after previously serving as Head of Sales EMEA & Latin America for Ivoclar Vivadent. Ganley told AEGIS Dental Network that he finds the transition to be one of the most satisfying aspects of his career.
“From a CEO point of view, if you can get your hands on it and … you are making the decisions with the Supervisory Board, and you really want it to happen, it is one of the most satisfying experiences you can go through,” Ganley says. “It is a fun process and a wonderful way for him to start a career and for me to end a career.”
Ganley’s final IDS press conference included the launch of another revolutionary material, IPS e.max ZirCAD Prime—among many other products—and he says in retirement he is most excited to follow the continued growth of Ivoclar Vivadent.
“I like [the company] very much,” he says. “I like the leadership that follows me very much. I am very confident that they will move it to another level. But, likewise, dentistry is moving also. Everything moves forward, and it moves forward at a faster rate right now. The demands are high, and the management that follows me, led by Diego, is extremely confident, very focused, and great at listening to what the needs are of our customers in the market.”
Asked for a prediction about future innovations in dentistry and the impact on people worldwide, Ganley instead offers a wish.
“I wish that people in all areas of the world,” he says, “would realize the importance of dental health and its relationship to total health.”