125 Years of Innovation
Sterngold celebrates anniversary with eye on the future
Sterngold Dental dealt exclusively with precious metal alloys for approximately the first 40 years of its existence. As the Massachusetts company celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, precious metal alloys account for less than 10% of its sales, which President and CEO Gordon Craig says is proof of how Sterngold has continuously adapted to meet the needs of the market. "We have innovation throughout our history," Craig says.
Craig joined Sterngold's marketing department in 1996, when the company was owned by Cookson America. When Sterngold was part of a management buyout, Craig left Cookson to become the newly private company's Vice President of Business Development, and he eventually became President and CEO in 2013. "Leaving Cookson was a risky move for me," Craig says, "but I saw the people and the culture—very knowledgeable people who were part of a community. I also saw that the changing demographics in the marketplace were in line with Sterngold's product portfolio, and also were creating opportunities for Sterngold to fill even more voids in the industry. Perhaps most importantly, I could have the ability to navigate our future in a very entrepreneurial and nimble way."
Sterngold's current direction involves persistence and presence in the marketplace, centered around the laboratories and dentists. They listen to the customer, which Craig says many companies say they do, but not all actually do. "When you listen to customers in an active way and couple that with a culture that is entrepreneurial and nimble," he says, "then you can bring out the best of both in a relatively swift fashion. Our product development has a direct correlation with what is happening to our customers. Companies that are able to stay in business for 125 years are ones that can adapt effectively. We are not even the same company we were 6 years ago."
Perhaps the best example of Sterngold's culture came during the COVID-19 pandemic. While many were shellshocked, Craig and his team immediately began speaking to customers and developing plans to pivot. One need among customers quickly became apparent: online learning. Sterngold put every one of its educational courses online and made them free for a period of time. They developed virtual hands-on courses by mailing kits to participants. They promoted everything as part of their #ReadyNow campaign on social media. "We saw a need and tried to anticipate how we could help our customers help their patients," Craig says. The digital learning emphasis has become permanent, and Craig says the next part of the #ReadyNow campaign is Sterngold Total Smile—a bundling of all of the company's treatment modalities, including the Lab Partnership Program, revolving around creating value for the laboratory, dentist, and patient. "STS creates a four-way win, and if we can maintain that in our workflows, we can continue to perpetuate growth," Craig says.
The #ReadyNow campaign also became part of Sterngold's Vision 2025 initiative, an aggressive growth strategy launched in January 2020. While the pandemic briefly disrupted the strategy, Craig says having it in place prior to that disruption was critical. "It was a guiding force that helped us get through COVID," he says. The world has changed, but Sterngold's values allowed the company to adapt, as it always has. "We are thankful for our customers—laboratories and clinicians alike. Getting to 125 years is no easy task," Craig says, "but we hope to continue for another 125 years."