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Growth and Savings: A Goal for All Businesses
Chris Holden and Heraeus Kulzer are changing the world of removable prosthetics with a clear vision.
Heraeus Kulzer’s wildly successful Pala Digital Dentures were the result of a clear vision. When Chris Holden took over as President of Heraeus Kulzer in 2006, he set a path for the future based on strict criteria: Align the company’s growth with its customers’ needs.
“We needed to be relevant, and we had a great deal of change to make, from the location of our corporate headquarters to the size of our field sales force,” Holden says. “Our product offering and general solutions offering needed to expand and become more customer-friendly relative to the needs of our customers.”
That strategy can be helpful in any industry, but Holden decided it was particularly important for Heraeus Kulzer, considering the consolidation occurring among both dental practices and dental laboratories.
“The need to provide solutions that help our customers either grow or save is absolutely critical not only to their success but also to our success,” Holden says.
Based on that directive of helping customers either grow or save, the company has focused on integrating hardware, software, and services around its core chemistries to provide integrated solutions for dentists and laboratories.
“The solutions that we are bringing to the market that are digitally based fit that core description of hardware, software, and services surrounding our chemistries,” Holden says, “so that when a customer picks up one of our core products and engages with a piece of hardware or software, they are using a solution that either helps to drive savings or helps to drive growth for their business.”
Pala Digital Dentures have accomplished both of these goals since the product’s introduction last year. The patented tray system saves dentists significant amounts of chairtime, requiring only two patient visits, rather than the five needed for most traditional dentures. This helps laboratories indirectly as it provides a new selling point for potential new clients.
The second part of Pala Digital Dentures is a CAD/CAM process that is handled by Heraeus Kulzer, greatly reducing the cost and labor involved for the laboratory.
“This can either reduce the laboratory’s overhead cost or increase its productivity,” Holden says. “Just as digital dentistry has helped innovate the fixed prosthetic side of the business, we are helping change something that has been stagnant for more than 100 years—the removable side.” Top-Notch R&D
The current Pala Digital Dentures line is only the start. As it works to add to that brand and develop other new products, Heraeus Kulzer has nearly 1500 chemical engineers at its disposal, thanks to its parent company, Mitsui Chemical Group.
Holden cites the move to become part of Mitsui Chemical Group as a major turning point for Heraeus Kulzer, as Mitsui is dedicated to growing and investing in the dental industry, with Heraeus Kulzer serving as the centerpiece for those efforts.
“Technology in the dental industry is increasingly associated with CAD/CAM and automated manufacturing, but that machinery and software still need to make something,” Holden says. “We cannot overlook the importance of the materials that will come to market in the next several years. We expect to be at the center of that and to lead over the next decade.”
New technologies, of course, need to meet Heraeus Kulzer’s high standards of helping customers grow or save, so the company is diligent about not rushing any launches. However, Holden says several groundbreaking innovations could be imminent.
“We have numerous technologies in our pipeline—technologies that help double down, for example, on digital denture solutions,” Holden says. “The solution that we provide today is not the limit of what we will bring to market. We will bring to market a much more integrated and personal solution for each laboratory.
“We also will bring to market a superior way to mill both chairside and in the laboratory with a novel and unique technology. We will help provide a method to digitize every dentist in the United States and Canada in an affordable way that allows the laboratory to help accomplish that but also insulates and protects the laboratory’s business. The market will see more and hear more about those technologies over the next several months.”
When those innovative new products are introduced, Heraeus Kulzer plans to capitalize on its relationships on both the clinical and laboratory sides—just as it did with Pala Digital Dentures.
“We have tremendous resources from a service standpoint and a knowledge standpoint of materials and processes,” Holden says. “We appreciate and understand what a laboratory has to do to make its customers happy. With clinical errors or shortcuts, laboratories are often told by their dentist customers to just make it work, creating a difficult situation for the laboratory. One of our core strengths comes from working with both laboratories and dentists. We frequently flex the capability to help by bridging the expectation gap—be it by product, education, relationship, or all of the above. Delivering quality prosthetics is an ecosystem that is neither laboratory nor clinical but a combination of both. We see ourselves right in the center of that, as an integral part not only for supplies but for knowledge.”
With the right supplies and knowledge, and the ability to help laboratories utilize those assets in cooperation with dentists, Heraeus Kulzer accomplishes its goal: Helping laboratories grow and save.
4 Key Take Aways
Every initiative to integrate hardware, software, and services around Heraeus Kulzer’s core chemistries is based on helping customers either grow or save.
Pala Digital Dentures help both dentists and laboratories save time and costs, while also helping laboratories grow their businesses with a new offering.
With nearly 1500 chemical engineers at its disposal as part of Mitsui Chemical Group, Heraeus Kulzer expects to be at the center of materials development in the near future.
Heraeus Kulzer’s relationships with both dentists and dental laboratories can help bridge the gap as both try to work together as effectively as possible.