By Kevin Henry, editor
Editor's Note: The following is an interview with Linda Miller, the chief executive officer of Paradise Dental Technologies, Inc., based in Missoula, Mont.
We're flattered that many other companies have tried to copy it, but with our heat treating process, blade, and handle design, nothing is as good as the Montana Jack®.
Kevin Henry: Linda, you started this business 12 years ago in a two-car garage, and you now hold a very strong position in the marketplace. Why did you start something completely new?
Linda Miller: I've been manufacturing, engineering, and designing dental products for 32 years. Before I started PDT, I was at tradeshows detailing with dealer reps, and observing in dental clinics and dental schools two to three weeks a month. I listened, observed, and saw the need for innovative dental hand instruments. I came up with the instrument designs, steel, and metallurgy recipe. I bought an old Bridgeport Mill and an old punch press and organized a team of two very skilled craftspeople who worked their magic on building machines and dies to create the dental tips. There were many new technologies to use to improve metallurgy and create a tougher tip that retains its edge two to seven times longer than other instruments. There were also injection molding properties that could be used to create a great ergonomic and anatomically colored handle. Starting new, I had a chance to apply it.
Henry: What was your biggest challenge with a new startup?
Miller: I went to my dealer friends and they shook their head and asked what I was doing. They told me if I created a market then they would take another look (I couldn't blame them — there were 27 instrument companies at the time and I was a start-up in my garage). Our passion is to do it right using smart and efficient manufacturing at home in the U.S. We innovate with better designs and subtle differences, making instruments noticeably more comfortable for the practitioner and patient. Users feel the difference with better blade adaptation, tactile sensitivity, instrument lightness, and longer sharpness retention, so PDT has quickly gained market share. We tried again to get into the dealers, and this time they were open to stock our products. We were so happy to no longer sell direct and to have dealer partners to work with. In the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., we quickly (eight years) rose to be the No. 2 manufacturer in curettes and scalers, our focus products. We now sell in 40 countries.
Henry: Paradise Dental seems like an odd name for a company located in Montana.
Miller: I named the company Paradise Dental Technologies because it was and still is important to me that our employees, dealer partners, practitioners, and patients have a great experience while working with our products and us — it should be Paradise!
Henry: What has been PDT's greatest success?
Miller: Well, there are a few. Our most successful product is the Montana Jack® Scaler, a thin, sleek universal scaler that addresses every scaling need as well as interproximal carving. The top-rated research program interviewed dental hygienists and found, "The Montana Jack® Scaler was the No. 1 instrument they could not live without." We're flattered that many other companies have tried to copy it, but with our heat treating process, blade, and handle design, nothing is as good as the Montana Jack®. In business our greatest success is to have a team that is able to innovate manufacturing procedures to keep all of our production in the U.S. and create more jobs! When I was able to implement profit sharing, I cried. Volume is the key to production and profit sharing, so we are very thankful to our dealer partners for being so supportive. It is our job to bring them products that they can be proud to sell. We always try to provide something that truly solves a problem in dental offices. If we can provide something that allows our dealer partners to educate and deliver solutions, we increase their loyalty to us and their customers' loyalty to them.
There are always new technologies to explore and so many ways to make things better. I am proud to say this is evident in our instrument design as well as our incredible instrument sharpening system. Nothing is faster, easier, or more cost effective, and like all PDT products, our sharpening systems are unconditionally guaranteed. Take a look at our new Wingrove™ Implant Scalers, Amazing Gracey™, Micro-serrated Periotomes, Flip-Top™ Cassettes, ACE™ Furcation Probes, and our newest, the Queen of Hearts™! These are all products that were born from ideas brought to us by practitioners in order to touch lives around the world. PDT has been very blessed to be the innovative leader in instrument design.