07 June 2013

Schabi Michaeli: We Are Always Open for Dialog

Schabi MichaeliThe SGS implantation system has been around for a year and a half now on the Russian market. Even if the time is rather short, Swiss-made implants have become available in many clinics over Russia, and so specialists not only are able to get a general impression about the system, but also appreciate the first results of SGS-based reconstructions. Mr. Schabi Michaeli, President of SGS is sharing his impressions about the Company’s operations in Russia.

— How do you see the Russian dental implants market?

— This is a fairly new market for us, but the companies that work here are also present in Europe, and we have not come across a single manufacturer that we don’t know. I would call Russia a growing market, it is hardly saturated, and doctors here need training. It’s my estimate that it will take about five years for the implants market to take its fill. Russia will be a very attractive region not only in terms of sales; it will also become a highly competitive market – something we are looking forward to.

A company needs a partner to reach out to any foreign market. Every nation has rules and competitors of its own, and diverse problems invariably arise. In Russia, our products are represented by UNIDENT. I believe that UNIDENT is doing a great job, because both dealers and doctors now recognize the Company. UNIDENT is making our work much simpler.

— Would you please tell us about SGS, about its history, and your current position in Europe?

— SGS is part of a large holding group that pursues a whole range of activities, and SGS Dental was created six years ago. We started out with manufacturing of implant suprastructures and implant accessories, but three years ago we decided to go for the entire implant system. We have numerous highly professional partners who assist us with research and improvement of technologies.

Right now we operate in all European countries, including the UK. We also work in India, and we are making our first steps into the US. Our plants are based in Switzerland, Germany and Hungary, they use the best equipment and employ leading specialists. Our logistics system in Central Europe is rather well developed, and it enables efficient supplies to Russia, Ukraine, to countries of Asia, and Central and Western Europe. Our plans for the nearest future include strengthening our positions on the North American market and reaching out to Argentina and Brazil in South America. I am confident that our products will be available in every region worldwide in three years.

— You have two implant product lines: standard and premium. How different are they fundamentally?

— This year, we have upgraded the processing technology for our standard implant line, because we were not quite satisfied with our original technology. Even if the standard line’s system is inexpensive, our requirements to it are rather high, and we are doing our best to keep the rejection rate below 1.5%. In the premium line, we have managed to achieve just that thanks to the use of calcium-phosphate coating of our implants, but we were able to have comparable performance in our standard product line because now we use titanium oxide in sandblasting. Our new formulas combined with this technology produce entirely different hydrophilic properties in our implants, and Russian dentists will have a chance to try our new results in the near future. Nevertheless we have been observing that Bonit-coated implants are getting more popular in Russia.

As I said before, our premium line differs from our standard line. Our implants receive double acid etching, and then a coating of calcium-phosphate (Brushite) is electrochemically applied. The coating dissolves some 6 to 12 weeks later, and thus ensures that osteointegration occurs sooner. Considering that immediate load on implants is becoming universally accepted now, early osteointegration is increasingly in demand.

– Is Bonit coating a unique development offered by SGS?

– It isn’t. We contract the implant coating function to the Germany-based DOT who have the world’s best laboratory for implant coating research. Their client base includes many major dental implant system manufacturers in the premium class, and with their enormous laboratory they are the global leader in this sector.

— Who is the hands-on developer for the implant system?

— Development is handled by Guy Crichel, my business partner. He is our think tank, the tech-wizard of our implant science. Guy has worked 17 years in the sector, he started as a lab assistant, but today he runs one of the world’s best laboratories. I would say that the engineering part of the process is a key to creation of dental implant systems. Indeed, even with the best dentist who can perform top-quality surgery, all efforts will fail if the implant technician is unable to build what the doctor has in mind. But Guy knows all specifics, he works with a score of implant systems being used all over the world, and he knows their every strength and weakness, he knows the way to join up the components into the resulting integrated system that will be really good.

Of course it was difficult to get started, but we enjoy a serious advantage: we make products of superior quality. In addition, doctors and other specialists can recognize our faces, and they are certain that we can handle any problem that confronts them. Compared to our competition, it is easier for us to adapt to the market. Each market and each nation has its own requirements for which we adapt. It means special spare parts, special bases, and special methods that doctors use in their work. Both our implant system and our employees are flexible enough to consider all that.

Photo with Tamaz Manasherov, Isaac Mikhaeli, Guy Crichel and Aleksandr Dzhanhoteli
— You have great sales plans for SGS on the global market, and you are present in many regions even now. Yet you claim that you can quickly handle all issues that confront your dealers and consumers. How is it possible?

— Well, I pay much attention to this, and I think that this approach is our great competitive edge. When you go global, it does not mean that you must become faceless, it doesn’t mean that you stop taking care and delegate it all to your managers. We employ many high-value specialists – from production control to logistics managers – because we have selected the cream of the best. However, it is also very important that we maintain and build up personal connections. For example, if a specialist in Poland has a question, they can make a direct phone call to Guy and this is just standard practice. It really makes me happy that UNIDENT supports us in this, because its employees are always easy to communicate, and all issues get sorted out soon. To me, this interaction is the most efficient format for cooperation, both for us, and for specialists who work with our system. It’s all in full view: that’s where we stand, and that is our product, and this is our strategy, and we are always open for dialog.

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