18 February 2014

Dave Pullen: In a Year Digital Technologies will be Well Developed

Carestream DentalCarestream Dental Diagnostic equipment is playing an important role in the world market. A leading manufacturer of radiographic equipment, the company is one of the key suppliers of innovative solutions in the industry. At the Dental Expo exhibition in Moscow this September, we met top-managers of the company who shared their opinions on the trends of development of European and Russian dental markets and on the company prospects.

Dave Pullen Marion Keiser Franz Ditmann

Dave Pullen General Director

Marion Keiser, Development Director

Franz Ditmann Sales Director, Northern and Eastern Regions

— How do dentists perceptions change? What are the trends of the industry development in your opinion?

Dave: Currently, dentistry is in a difficult position because of uncertain economic situation. The government forces its citizens to use private dental service providers. It’s the case with many European countries. Sometimes a person does not understand how much he has to pay and whether he has to pay at all. In some countries because of the financial factor people tend to avoid dentist until they have a toothache.

We understand that now it is not the best time for big investments, that is why dentists are not so resolute about purchasing as a couple of years ago. They perform a thorough analysis of information, compare prices and competitive advantages of the equipment being supplied, supplier’s ratings. Dentists are quite prudent about investments in their business, they cannot accurately say whether their investments will pay off or not in the near future. Doctors buy new dental equipment only in case of urgent need. Buying a dental tomography they also consider whether there will be return on investment. I am sure that if we don’t make correct and timely conclusions in a couple of years the situation will be still worse.

Currently, doctors in Europe observe a 14% drop in the number of patients versus two years ago. These are very worrying figures, as they show that people’s interests are affected. But I think that in a year digital technologies will be significantly developed. We forecast decline of market of panoramic radiographs, they are going to be replaced by more advanced and affordable dental tomographs. It will become the factor that will boost the industry growth. On the other hand, the volume of service, both in terms of diagnostics and in terms of treatment is significantly growing.

We have to focus on these aspects today, which is not an easy task. I don’t know a market that would develop using extensive methods and showing good results. Two years ago two large dental companies in Germany ruined. It is very strange, considering it is the largest market in Europe.

Fritz: Dentistry is certainly losing public support. I think that now doctors have to improve the quality of service themselves by actively using communicative instruments and the newest equipment. Only clinics proposing newest technologies may confidently face the future.

The second important point is equipment that a doctor has. I am sure that advanced treatment technologies and diagnostics (including 3D) will help dentists to retain their patients. They would not have to refer their patients to another clinic, they will be able to control the quality of their service required by the patient.

Marion: I would like to highlight two aspects. First, appearance is getting more and more important for people. We are always reminded of beauty standards on TV, in papers and magazines, so everyone is striving to live up to Hollywood or God knows what standards. For client and patient it becomes very important to be attractive and to invest in one’s appearance. As for dentists, who master new technologies, use iPads and iPhones, I think that for them using new technologies is getting more and more important.

Dave: I’d like to come back to what you said, because, I think it is very important. It was mentioned that dentists should sell their services themselves. I think that distributors can help, provide tools for them to advertise their services. I am talking here about new dentistry journals. As a patient I would go to dentist when I’ve read about implants and pediatric dentistry.

— What is the future of Carestream Dental, how do you see its market position?

Dave: I think that it will be quite positive. We want to analyze the current range of products and the way we offer our products to the industry. Our philosophy is radiographic technologies that enable doctor to find an optimal method of treatment. We have films and digital technologies — it’s the doctor’s choice. We are also looking into the future, thinking of the ways of further development of digital dentistry. What can be done using digital imaging? Now, we are beginning to work in the field of therapeutic dentistry. We are planning to work in a new area. In October a new system is going to be marketed and European dentists will be able to purchase it. It is not yet going to be sold in Russia. Many specialists cooperate with laboratories and use CAD/CAM systems in therapeutic dentistry. Using CAD/CAM systems may step outside the bounds of traditional dental business where such systems are currently used as these technologies have truly huge future potential Let’s see what technologies will look like in 2020. 

Mikhail Morozov, Carestream Dental Sales Director in Russia and CIS, Georgiy Gabuzov, Head of Radiographic Equipment Unit, UNIDENT; Tamaz Manasherov, President of UNIDENT Group of companies

— How topical are these trends for Russia?

Dave: To be honest, I don’t know. I think that currently in Russia people are becoming more educated in terms of dentistry. More educated in a good sense, because people gain knowledge. What is the difference between this exhibition and the previous ones? I would make two points here: first of all, many booths have an area for lectures and discussions, there are screens installed, which perfectly fits the task of education. I saw something like that at other exhibitions, but in Moscow it has much more potential for education and demonstration of products. The second feature is that many people are making purchases here. It can be seen that doctors buy something, walk along the pavilion with roomy bags. It is quite unusual.

Fritz: I don’t know how much more developed aesthetic area is than preventive dentistry area in Russia, but I am sure that using crowns and implants will grow. How topical that question is, do people need to know the significance of dental tomography and CAD-CAM system for implant installation before we begin more intensive work in the field of therapeutic dentistry? We need to make a questionnaire, to collect opinions of people on whether it all works in Russia.

It should also be noted that one brand is commonly promoted by many dealers. We thought about which approach would be better for us: to have one dealer or a few, so that each adds value to our brand. Both approaches have the right to exist, the question is whether these dealers are able to support and offer service at the same level as UNIDENT, which always focuses on specific products in a timely fashion. We think that the first variant is more effective.

— What will be the global market position of Carestream Dental in the near future, in your opinion?

Dave: The revenue of the whole corporation according to the latest published data is euro 2.5 bln. At that moment the share of dental division was 500 millions, it grew and is continuing to grow.

We also have one additional business area — Dental Practice Management Software (DPMS). I don’t know how popular it is in Russia, but in Europe it is a quite saturated market. That business may have potential at developing markets, for example, in Africa, at the Middle East and in the CIS. So, our key plan is to market digital technologies globally, increase our volume of business and enlarge our current portfolio. Now we are talking about unpublished confidential company information.

We sold over 5000 devices 9000 3D globally and, probably, it is the record breaking volume of purchase of 3D−devices in the global market. We have a significant market share in Russia.

Fritz: I think that our company may be called innovative. When we launch a product, it is always based on really new developments. Now, we are setting the goal to redouble our sales volume, particularly in Russia. So within the next five years we are going to solve challenging but interesting tasks. UNIDENT and its network of dealers are going to play a key role in that process.

Dave: Yes, we are planning to double the volume of our dental business by 2017. We faced a similar challenge in 2002 to 2007, when we planned to triple our business in five years. We started with one hundred in 2002 and we heard people say “We just can’t imagine how one can triple the business!”. We were not sure, but we decided to try and see what happens. By the end of 2007, 100 units grew to 250, so the company experienced a 2.5−fold increase of sales.

Simplification of new products is an important aspect of our efforts. Anyone can offer new products. The question is how your innovations will serve people. Say, you buy a new voice recorder and are trying to make out how it works. If it takes 5 minutes to handle the task, it means the device is not quite user friendly. But if you make it out in 30 seconds, it means the device is more simple, which is good.

Yana Klevtsova

With Yana Klevtsova, UNIDENT Marketing Director

Marion: Our plans for the future suggest recruitment of many new employees, including CAD/CAM specialists, to work with a totally renewed team at our office in Bucharest, to work here, in the Moscow office. We will also need to simplify equipment, for example in such a way that a lay person can assembly the apparatus in a quarter of an hour in front of a hundred people. We will also work on simplifying the product interface for dentists, trying to make it more user friendly.

Dave: Yes, we are trying to simplify our products, and we’ve always stood by that concept. For example, I’ve never had any problems with unpacking a device supplied in a box unassembled. Any person can assemble the kit. So we are not only focusing on the way the doctor uses the equipment, but on the way a dealer, such as UNIDENT may sell and service the product more effectively. Even if it is a real market leader. It makes your life easier, and we are doing all we can for that purpose.

Fritz: Another task, or our motto, so to say, is building a market-oriented organization.

— Our companies have been successfully cooperating for many years. What has changed about UNIDENT in your opinion?

Fritz: I think that the work of UNIDENT is becoming more effective and perfect every year. The outcome of our long-term cooperation is creation in Russia of a huge database of equipment requiring another, a broader-scale approach, than in many other countries. If you sell ten units, they may be serviced by a single operator. But if you have thousands of units sold, you will need an army of trained specialists who would be able to service them. UNIDENT in cooperation with multiple dealers is managing the task providing such services.

— What is the formula for success of Carestream Dental?

Marion: I think that our formula for success is people — those who develop and manufacture our products in France, those who sell our products globally, our technical support specialists. For me, the formula for success is our people, our team consisting of true enthusiasts and professionals.

Dave: I would answer in one word: it’s our focus. That’s the secret. Whatever you do, whether it be simplifying new products, or something else, you have to focus your efforts to achieve your goal. Whether you develop training or plan new positions you have to have a focus. Then the task will be solved. Such an approach when launching a new product guarantees that you have all you need. This way a real success may be achieved. That rule works in any business area, including sports. Let’s take a football team as an example. When selecting players you would target on certain aspects: how players practice kicking, you will specifically select a new player, a new gatekeeper.

Fritz: It looks like Dave described a day of our life. You need time to keep your target in view and search for the ways to reach it.


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