Interview with Dental Trade Alliance CEO Gary Price

April 1, 2011
Editor's Note: While in Germany at the IDS meeting, I had a chance to sit down with Gary Price, the CEO of the Dental Trade Alliance, to get his thoughts on the industry.Kevin Henry: As the leader of the Dental Trade Alliance, one of your many jobs is to increase membership. What are the main selling points you share with companies when you tell them why they should be DTA members?Gary Price: The main benefit is the opportunity to network with other members of the industry. This networking doesn't just allow business contacts, but also personal growth.Kevin Henry: There's been quite a surge lately in membership. What's been the tipping point for companies suddenly coming on board?Gary Price: I think people are seeing the benefits and services that we offer. The economy caused businesses to be a little hesitant to join. Now that the economy is improving, I think there was a pent-up demand and companies are realizing now is the time to join DTA.Kevin Henry: Speaking of the economy, what are you seeing from your vantage point?Gary Price: Clearly the economy isn't back to where it was before, but it's beginning to be on the upswing. Equipment sales are improved. Consumables are showing signs of growth. I always say that you can't put duct tape on something forever, and I think dentists have a desire to buy right now. Patients are beginning to loosen their wallets as well, and that helps the dentist's frame of mind for buying.Kevin Henry: I've featured some articles on dental trade shows in recent issues of Proofs. What is your view of the DTA's relationships with the major trade shows?Gary Price: We get along, but there have been times when our relationships have been challenging. We all want satisfaction for our customers, and we all have a different definition of what makes them happy. Ultimately, we want to be able to support the shows and make sure that our members can do profitable business at these shows. There are a lot of us who are trying to make the trade show model work for everyone.Kevin Henry: Is that possible?Gary Price: I think it is, but I think there is a lot of change coming. The younger generation is driving that change. They are so strong in things like technology and social networking, and they are becoming the leaders of their own small companies (dental practices).Kevin Henry: What changes in trade shows would you suggest?Gary Price: I would say don't have as many and don't have them as often. Look at what IDS is doing in Cologne and how successful it is. The point of that show is not the lectures, but for dentists and team members to look at the toys in the exhibit hall. I wish we could follow that model in the U.S.Kevin Henry: Talk a little about the success of the recent “Oral Healthcare Can't Wait” campaign.Gary Price: We've had a lot of success with dentists. Around 5,000 have used our site to get information about the campaign. Publishing companies such as yours (PennWell) donated a lot of space to help us get the word out, so I think we had a great initial push. Now we're looking at ideas on how to expand the campaign even more.Kevin Henry: Being so close to Washington, D.C., what are your thoughts on the medical device tax?Gary Price: A lot of people in Capitol Hill are opposed to it, but it's going to take that and a lot more to get it changed. The main thing is that we don't want the opposition from the dental industry to get lost in all of the noise surrounding the bill. We want to apply pressure where we can and make our voice heard.Kevin Henry: You and the DTA are involved in a lot of issues on Capitol Hill besides just the medical device tax, right?Gary Price: We are. We don't blow our own horns about it a lot, but we are. It's one of the things we do for the industry and for our members. Maybe we don't brag enough about it (laughing). We have a regulatory and legislative committee that works very hard to keep up with what is going on in Washington and how it could affect our members.Kevin Henry: I understand DTA is also looking at more of an international presence.
Gary Price:
We've been very fortunate to expand our presence around the world in many areas. We sponsored three receptions during the recent IDS meeting and we're holding the first-ever U.S. pavilion at an upcoming Russian trade show. We're also expanding our reach into China. It's an exciting time for us.