10 industry leaders give their thoughts on 2011

Nov. 12, 2010

Editor's Note: I took advantage of my time at the Dental Trade Alliance's annual meeting earlier this month to talk to 10 industry leaders and get their thoughts on what may happen in dentistry in 2011. Here are their thoughts, with the leaders listed alphabetically by last name.

"We are seeing some positive signs in terms of U.S. consumables growth. 2011 looks to continue that trend, but at a slow, lower single digit rate." — Mike Beaudoin, Vice President, Corporate Accounts, Sybron Dental Specialties.

"Growing confidence in the economy will stimulate a new round of acquisitions in the dental sector in 2011, further aligning specific manufacturers with selected dealers. Vertical alignments tend to alter the competitive landscape, often to the disadvantage of smaller players. Innovative products and effective competitive strategies will be the key to their survival. Evolution to the fully-digital dental office will continue at an accelerated pace. The winners in this game will continue to be the ‘total solution providers,’ those who control both the practice management software that runs the office and the equipment that seamlessly integrates with it. Manufacturers who have only part of the solution must align themselves with those who control the software." — Bill Fitzpatrick, President and CEO, Suni Medical Imaging.

"Technology and innovation will have to become mainstream in 2011. Dentists are learning that the bricks and mortar they grew up with doesn't exist any more. Technology that provides consistent results and save the dental practices time will be embraced. I think this year and decade will be about adaptation." — Diana P. Friedman, CEO, Sesame Communications.

“I am optimistic about 2011 ... particularly the second half. Many patients have been delaying ‘elective’ procedures and I think there is probably a pent up demand for dental services that will resurface once the economic and employment picture improves. As a prevention company, we think prevention will still lead the way out. It is pretty hard to believe that parents are going to ignore the regular cleanings for their kids. Within the trade, you'll see more and more time spent on grey market issues by the manufacturers during 2011. Although the loss of gross margin is a motivator, it seems that the companies trafficking in grey, counterfeit or black market goods are becoming emboldened and brazen. Our fear is that if we do not stem the tide, we'll end up with a bad patient outcome tied to "bad product." We don't need more regulation, but the FDA will be forced to get involved and enforce GMP issues surrounding "having control of the process and product." — Al King, President and CEO, Preventive Technologies, Inc.

"I think the industry will still be very tentative because we're all waiting to see where the economy will go. Our company is growing through new market introductions. In the rest of the existing products or markets, you're seeing things lag behind with the economy. I think when the economy proves itself, the industry will follow." — Chris McDevitt, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Keystone Industries.

"I believe 2011 will continue to present challenges. However, I also believe we will see stabilization of the industry. I do project we'll see moderate growth in revenue." — Lori Paulson, Vice President of Marketing and Dental Programs, NDC.

“I see many positive signs for the dental market for 2011. Many of our companies are seeing positive results in the last quarters of 2010. I believe that dentists are seeing increased visits and, of course, the new year will open a new benefit year for dental plans. Because of the drop in care over the last two years there is significant pent up demand for dental care. This will contribute to a strong start for 2011.” — Gary Price, CEO, Dental Trade Alliance.

"I think we'll see improvement over 2010. I think it will be a long, slow, gradual recovery for the economy. I also think the challenge will come in continual innovation." — Joe Simon, Marketing Director, Premier Dental Products.

"I really think we've turned the corner. We're on our way up, but it's going to be a slow climb. I'm very much looking forward to 2011 and beyond." — George Wolfe, President, DMG America.

"I think we'll see trade shows continue to slide down. People are waking up and realizing they're just not what they used to be, and I think the ADA meeting in Orlando was a real tipping point for that. I also think we'll see more and more buying from the Internet and it may get to the point where it's a force that must be recognized. I think sales teams will get smaller and territories will get bigger as companies cut back on costs and put their money into other areas." — Bob Zettler, Director of Sales, DUX Dental.