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Delegating for Success
Using Custom Milling Center’s outsourcing services to grow business and expand operations
Overseeing, directing, and controlling the manufacturing performance of a large network of dental laboratories is no simple task. It requires keeping a critical eye on budget spending, labor and material efficiencies, and engineering effectiveness—all while ensuring that all activities within the network meet or exceed the overall operational plan, standards, and objective of the organization. It’s a job for a seasoned veteran, for someone who’s been in the trenches and understands the ins and outs of every step of the production management process.
It’s a skill set that Brent Rosso, RDT honed early on in his career when he found himself wearing the many hats required of laboratory ownership and realized that business growth couldn’t be achieved simply sitting behind the bench. Armed with the business acumen that only comes from 25 years of successfully running the day-to-day operations of his own dental laboratory, Rosso, today, is Vice President of Operations for Frontier Dental Laboratories, Inc., a network of five medium to large operations strategically located in Canada and the US with headquarters in Vancouver, Canada. A sixth North American location in Toronto is poised to open as soon as Rosso finds the right personnel to manage and run the operation. Frontier’s business philosophy is to expand operations organically rather than through acquisition, which allows them to focus on the clientele they have chosen to serve. Client generation is primarily driven through the company’s Frontier Institute, an educational environment for like-minded dentists to learn the principles of completing smile design cases and grow their practices. The live-patient cases generated by the institute’s full schedule of classes each year, provide the network with a steady supply of new customers.
Over the past 10 years, Rosso has been carefully following and adapting to the rapid changes in production methods and new material options, to adopt those that make business sense. “We don’t mill in house,” says Rosso. “With the rapid advances and improvements in the expensive capital equipment on today’s market, we prefer that someone else carry those hard costs along with staffing and maintenance issues.” Instead Rosso turned to the delicate art of delegation and negotiation with a trusted partner that understands his laboratory’s high expectations and turnaround demands. “I’ve known Bob Miller and the technical staff at CMC [Custom Milling Center] for many years,” says Rosso. “They demonstrated their capabilities to us and we worked out what we needed in terms of quality and turnaround.” At first, Frontier was sending models and outsourcing both the scanning and design to CMC. However, as the volume increased, Rosso realized it made more business sense to purchase 3Shape scanners and invest in staff members who not only have computer skills but also dental technical knowledge to operate them.. “CMC has a two-day comprehensive training program so we sent two of our younger computer-savvy employees to learn the ins-and-outs of CAD software design.” Rosso admits that even with extensive training it took both designers another month or so to hit full speed and be able to complete 30 to 40 units a day by using the simultaneous split screen scan and design technique. But it was worth the investment. “Quality always comes first; price is secondary,” he says. “Investing in teaching two of our employees to scan and CAD design only further solidified the quality we were getting from CMC. Quality is all in the hands of the designer. I can foresee the scan and design segment of our business expanding. The high-quality designs we are sending are exactly what we get back in physical product. 90% of what we need milled goes to CMC. These milling machines don’t cut corners and they don’t make mistakes and that is something we value highly at Frontier,” says Rosso.
Quality is especially important when it comes to using a stock versus a milled custom implant abutment when working on a complex implant case. “For difficult cases where the abutments don’t line up properly, we always recommend that our clients prescribe custom milled abutments,” says Rosso. “You can get the correct emergence profiles and the case is going to look much better.” Nearly 10% of the cases that flow through the Frontier network require designing and milling patient-specific abutments. The ability to offer clients a choice between one of the big brand milled implant abutments or a cost-effective custom milled option is important to customer retention. “If the client only wants genuine parts, say from Straumann or Nobel, then we honor that request and will give them those branded parts,” says Rosso. “But if a client wants a custom abutment that is of equal strength and durability as the big brand option for less we can also offer this and CMC can supply those.”
As Rosso watches the rapid transformation taking place in the dental technology industry and assesses which technologies would fit best into the Frontier workflow to improve efficiencies while still maintaining the high quality demanded by their clientele, he sees his next big step will be to acquire 3D printing technology to print their wax patterns and models. The ability to virtually create pressing and casting wax patterns that are exact duplicates of the diagnostic waxups they provide with every case would save four to five hours in manual waxing.
“The whole industry is moving toward digital production and will probably go modeless at some point,” says Rosso. “Because many of these technologies have not yet fully matured and are still changing, I put a great deal of value in business partners, like CMC, who continue to take steps to invest in the latest equipment and the best software to provide their customers with the newest range of products on the market.”
Disclaimer: The preceding material was provided by the manufacturer. The statements and opinions contained therein are solely those of the manufacturer and not of the editors, publisher, or the Editorial Board of Inside Dental Technology.
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