Articles

Deliver Your Brand Promise

July 15, 2014   |  

Finding the keys to success lies in exploring your company’s identity

Unspoken or not, your brand encompasses everything a customer expects from your company—from initial contact through delivery. This is your brand promise. Establishing your brand has likely been a considerable investment in time and money, so it’s in your best interest to do everything in your power to protect it and deliver that promise to your customers.

Then make sure it happens. Author Laura Lake on www.about.com writes, “…it makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.”

Another article on www.entrepreneur.com defines branding as: “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.”

Defining Your Brand

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D&S Dental Laboratory Embraces Growth, Still Holds On To Original Values

July 09, 2014   |  

It’s hard to imagine that Dick Pilsner could have envisioned what his business would become back in 1972 when he operated as a one-man denture laboratory in the east side of Madison, Wisconsin.

Yes, to say D&S Dental Laboratory Inc., has changed since the days when Pilsner, his wife and his grandmother were the company’s only employees would be an understatement. Today, D&S is made up of five full-service laboratories and 105 employees – operating out of Wisconsin and Illinois.

Travis Zick

Travis Zick

“It’s quite a difference,” D&S President Travis Zick said of the company’s growth. “It just really is amazing to think of where we are today compared to where we were when we started off from scratch. It just goes to show what Dick built here.”

Zick’s foray into the dental industry is equally amazing. He came from a business and finance background and was working at a bank when he first met Pilsner and D&S Business Manager Don Statz. The trio formed a solid business friendship, which ultimately led to Pilsner approaching Zick about coming on board at D&S six years ago.

“Like most people, I didn’t even know what a dental lab was when I first met Dick,” Zick said. “I’ve never had anything more invasive than a filling, so I had to quickly learn about the products and services a lab provides when I came to D&S. At the same time, it was exciting to take on a new challenge, and I really enjoyed the educational part of learning and understanding what we do and why we do it.”

Zick proved he was a quick study. D&S has fully embraced and invested in the industry’s latest technology and is able to produce and carry the most up-to-date and cutting edge products.

“We’ve made a commitment to be progressive,” Zick said. “We’ve adapted to industry changes and offer products, doctors ask for. We also put a tremendous emphasis on customer service by acting as a resource.”

DandS Group Shot

This past year, D&S acquired both Hansen and Hootman Dental Laboratories to expand its family of laboratories to five. Zick said he would like to see D&S grow and, ultimately, expand into other regions within the country.

He said that while technology has enabled laboratories to expedite the delivery of products to doctors, it still is very important that there be a physical presence between laboratories and doctors.

“It’s still very important for a doctor to be able to get to a lab for a consultation, send a patient for a custom shade, or call for a pick-up,” Zick said. “Local service will always be a differentiating factor in the industry.”

Yes, the more things change, the more things stay the same at D&S. Despite growing from a one-man operation in 1972 to a 105-employee group of laboratories in 2014, D&S still closely holds on to the ideals that Pilsner had when he first opened for business.

“Those haven’t changed at all,” Zick said. “Our corporate culture and values are still 100 percent the same.”

Little did Mark Frichtel know what he was getting into when he first met Sven Jesse.

About the only thing Frichtel knew about the native German – other than the fact that he was dating his sister – was that he stood out.

“Every company wanted to hire him,” Frichtel said. “A lot even wanted to help him out with a Visa. I was thinking: ‘What in the heck is going on?’”

Then a manager for a computing software firm, Frichtel had aspirations of starting another company, but didn’t know what.

“I had no idea what a dental lab even was,” Frichtel said.

All that changed in 1994 when Frichtel joined forces with his brother-in-law to launch Jesse & Frichtel Dental Labs, which can best be described as one of the most successful full-service dental laboratories in the industry.

Today, Jesse & Frichtel restore over 10,000 implants per year and advertise that they restore more Zimmer implants than any other lab in the world. The primary laboratory is located in Pittsburgh, but they also have a location in Carmel, Ind.

“We started from zero,” Frichtel said. “Never in our wildest dreams did we think we’d get to where we are today.”

The duo did have high hopes though, as evidenced in their original business plan in which Jesse suggested that the company pattern itself after German automaker Mercedes-Benz. Frichtel, a Pittsburgh native, added that he wanted to be like the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers (four Super Bowl titles in that decade).

“(Jesse) quickly learned who those guys were,” Fricthel said. “We actually did put both of those things in writing in our original business approach.”

While Frichtel is quick to point out that the lab is all-encompassing and does everything to the highest quality, he does acknowledge that around 1999, a conscious decision was made to really try and key in on the implant market.

“It was an interesting decision because everything was really going good for dental labs, but a lot of the focus was centered on cosmetic looks and enhancement,” Frichtel said. “Because my partner was German, he believed in a particular look – a more natural look.

“There was not a lot of experience in implants back then so we had to work out a lot of things through trial and error. Around 2002, we really started to get some recognition and positive feedback from implant reps.”

The positive feedback has only continued for Jesse & Frichtel. The laboratory is a family business to say the least. In addition to Jesse, Frichtel has another brother who works there, as does his sister-in-law, who also happens to be from Germany. All total, the lab has six Germans on staff, providing it with yet another unique distinction to help set it apart.