Quality Dental Lab
Quality Dental Lab – The Days of the “Do It All” Technician Have Ended
If you are old enough you will remember dental technicians that could do removable and fixed restorations all in the same day and in the same hour. They did what was needed and they did it with speed and excellence. That just doesn’t exist anymore except in very remote circumstances.
My Mentor, Teacher, and Friend Passes Away
I had worked closely with Johnny for two and one-half years in a quality dental lab. He could do a little ortho and dentures start to finish, partials and flippers, and he was amazing at waxing casting and finishing gold crowns. He was incredible at layering PFMs. His ceramic work was inspiring. He was an artist as well as a production manager. He did the very hardest thing to do which is to manage yourself. He had put himself on exact production schedules and he stuck to it. He was a good teacher and he was very patient with me. I knew that it was a great chance to learn about my chosen profession from the hands of a true expert. He was 40 years old and I was 21. We worked in a beautiful dental laboratory in the same building of a high production dentist. (More about this dentist later) I came into work one morning to find two dentists and the staff waiting for me.
They were so sad to have to break the news to me that my friend Johnny had died in his sleep last night. What a shock for all of us. But I think I took it the hardest. I really lost a friend and my mentor that day. It was very difficult for a while to come back into that lab.
My education hit a brick wall and I really could not get going again until I moved from that city. Even as I look back on that event that was 36 years ago, I understand that it was life changing for me.
From Here On Out, Building a Top Notch Dental Lab Was Up To Me
I was a newlywed and feeling the pressure of needing to find a career to provide for my family. I loved dentistry and the dental laboratory field. I was good with my hands and had great coordination. I was an artist and loved all of the materials and tools. Carving teeth out of wax and working with the stone and polishing gold fit my personality exactly. I would work at a dental lab long enough to learn what they had to offer. Then I would move up a step and do that at the next lab. I kept learning and moving until I was ready to start my own dental laboratory. I was very determined that it would be a high quality dental lab in every sense of the word.
At 24 Years Old, I Opened My Lab
It is a good thing that you don’t know what you don’t know. Looking back I was fearless. But I did have knowledge and skills to offer. I just had a lot to learn. I never did look back. It took many long days and nights to educate myself and do the work that was required to support my growing family. But all of the time that I was struggling to meet my goals and make a successful business I remembered Johnny and the lessons he taught me. The way he handled clients and the way he scheduled cases to be done, always ahead of when the doctors office needed them. But mostly I took to heart the standards that he held himself to when it came to fabricating excellent restorations. It was a hands-on, do it yourself to perfection system. He also taught me the skills of communication. So every case that came in was carefully gone through to make sure everything was in order. The prescription slip was carefully read and re- read just to make sure that there were no mistakes made. How else do you start a quality dental lab?
The Change Begins For a Quality Dental Lab
A few things happened to the dental laboratory industry all the same time. The economy kept changing for the worse and it changed dentistry forever. Big labs kept getting bigger and small labs started disappearing. The time when technicians like Johnny could thrive was going away. To survive in the new world you needed computer skills and you needed to specialize. There is a denture department and an ortho department and a ceramic department and a wax department and a metal department and an implant department and I may not have named them all. The specialists in each of these areas only just made a living. You had to be a department manager or very very good at one thing to make money in this industry now.
- The important things to remember are the things that were taught from the guys in Johnny’s generation.
- The pride they took in each restoration.
- The excellence of their craftsmanship.
- The mindset to work all night if needed.
- The willingness to help and teach.
- The care of “old world” craftsmanship.
Fast Forward 34 Years
I am Scott Emett. I started my dental lab in 1982. Now,34 years later, the old world standards and values are still what drives my quality dental lab today. I will not forget the lessons taught, that now set my lab apart from regular dental labs.
Riverside Dental Studio is a quality dental lab that combines the standards and values of old world craftsmanship with the new world of cutting edge technologies and the digital era.
Back in 1982 everything was fabricated by hand. Many business relationships were sealed with a handshake and your good word. Business life or death depended on your reputation. So a business that meant to stay alive had to begin building a bulletproof reputation right from the start. I understood that, and worked tirelessly to never break bonds of trust. This encompassed honesty in every business dealing. Including; use of only the best materials, always delivering ahead of schedule, utilizing education to provide the fit, form, and function of high end restorations, keeping the employees who exemplified lab values, and learning everything possible about the world of dentistry and applying it to benefit clients. Adhering to these standards, I began to build the finest of reputations.
Back then and even now, these old world values defined a quality dental lab. But these days many businesses forget the importance of relationships. They don’t realize that they will cease to exist unless they work harder than ever to provide value. One big problem for them is that success still requires all of the values mentioned, plus all of the “new world” digitization, continuous education, application of comprehensive treatment planning and all of the modern demands of the discriminating client.