Dental Insider Blog

Observation and Commentary On the Dental Industry

LMT Lab Show Review and Thoughts…

Posted by dentalinsider on March 6, 2007

Yet another poor Lab Day show put on by Lab Management Today. I am not sure how many people were there, seeing as how the lighting was so horrible. I hear next year they will be having this show in a parking garage.

As for the show, the hot item right now is outsourcing. People can talk all day about Cad/Cam technology, but outsourcing will be what radically changes this industry. After years of complaining and decades of asking for more respect dental technicians are slowly being replaced. Dental restorations are becoming a a commodity, and that is bringing in firms who would otherwise invest and operate in other fields. “Prescribing a crown” is being replaced by “ordering a crown”.

The fact is that the 5 – 20 person labs are being bought out or becoming extinct. Outsourcing to China and other offshore labs is being disguised and while it is known it has become more a of an accepted tag. Look at your shirt, where was it made? People are going out of business, business is moving offshore and the true businessmen are moving in. Technicians are artists and unless the lab is being run by one of the few techs that know how to run a business, or is run by a non-technician they are in trouble. People are spending money on overpriced equipment and not putting it to work. But the smart labs, and dare I say highly profitable labs, are working their equipment 24/7/365. This is manufacturing and this is how it is done in the real world. Dental Lab industry meet the real world.

The attendance at the show was poor, yet I am sure we will hear how it was record breaking, and the mixture of people was strange. A lot of 1 – 2 person labs, high end (or think they are) that have about 5 clients. Then there were the few medium sized labs, very few. Then there were your outsourcing labs. And everyone in the place was about 2 seconds from buying what was being sold, but very few pulled the trigger. Oh I am sure if you ask most that were exhibiting they will tell you they wrote hundreds of order….. BS!

There were a few new products that had not already been released, but nothing major. No problems and no real trouble making as Dentsply was quiet. I did hear a lot of rumbling about the mess that Zahn has created with the final merger of Darby Lab Supply. Most customers call them Zharby, and have been having problems since the turn of the year. Evidently all of the Darby people moved entirely to the Schein System around this time. There have been a few horror stories, but this writer actually expected more. People are moving away from them but not in large numbers.

The show was bad and it is only going to get worse. It is a sign of an industry in change and an industry in quiet turmoil. Just to point out one company that was there and how much people fail to see things slipping away from them and how this industry is being turned into pure manufacturing. If this is hard to follow story because I barley understand it due to the fast talking, quick handed salesmen.

This company forms a partnership with a functioning lab. You are supposed to be busy or maybe don’t have enough work and are not making any money. They tell you that you make $18 per crown. You start to get your clients to order their crowns online at this company’s website. They have to pay by credit card and send the impression to the company. At this point you get your cut, around $48 dollars. This company fabricates the restorations, package it and sends it back to the doctor. That is it. Now I thought to myself, this is a good idea where do I sign up. I can go out and hustle a couple doctors and tell them I am a lab, here is where you order and all the details. You see I am not a lab and can’t really fabricate much. But even if I was I would still be interested. Why? Because I don’t have to do anything. Does it sound easy? Well it isn’t. Like everything else in life there is a catch, yet I could not find one. Maybe it was because the salesman looked like he should be selling used cars and knew nothing about the lab industry, except what he reads in reports. What is a occlusal contact? How do you measure this or that, impressions, etc, etc. I mean I make $50 a pop on each crown and just send you the names and address and all the details about my clients? Oh, wow maybe that is the catch?

People in this industry, dental technology, need to wake up and smell the roses. the NADL is doing absolutely nothing and are worthless. A small percentage of the technicians are CDT’s. They represent nobody and are nobody. From a sales point of view this affects things greatly. Because in reality 5 businesses could control the entire dental restoration market. This market is small, which by the way does anyone know some real sales figures of some of these manufacturers. What are Dentsply’s sales in dental lab products? Ivoclar, GC, and smaller companies like Whip Mix, Vaniman, Nobilium. What are the dental lab sales of the dealers looking like? From what I hear the are not being any records set, well it is getting close to record lows.

The VC’s have arrived and the technician is dying. If you don’t change, change will pass you by.

I would like to take a moment to say that we need a real show in the dental lab side of the industry. Whether that means that we try to piggyback off of the CDS or try something totally new, it has to be done. Having a flea market every year, with poor lighting, no booths, no anything that makes a trade show a trade show does not make a yearly show. It is horrible and someone needs to step up and make it happen. The people from Spectrum, a magazine from Canada, have tried to do another show on Friday but it was pathetic with about 10 exhibitors.

One thing I have realized, after spending my life in this industry I know less now than I ever have.

Good luck to everyone because we all need to be prepared for the changes that are on the way.

Associate Q


2 Responses to “LMT Lab Show Review and Thoughts…”

  1. I agree with Q. I basically went to the Lab Show to see if I wanted to be an exhibitor at this meeting. I think my first mistake was going first to the Mid-Winter meeting and seeing these elaborate booths, then the next day going to the lab show. It resembled a poor flea market, terrible lighting, and all the so called booths were nothing but tables. It’s bad when companies just have a small sign on their table saying the company name. I have been to much smaller meetings in the US that were setup so much better. I do not see why LMT is asking for so much money to be an exhibitor your only purchasing a table and piece of paper with your name on it. The traffic was decent, but not huge numbers. I believe it looks like a lot more people because the aisles are so small that people are on top of each other. I had always believed that this show was where the new products were introduced. Out of all the exhibitors I only saw Whipmix, Renfert and Amann Girrbach with new products, everybody else was the same thing we see all the time.

    The Mississippi/Louisiana Dental Lab show (Fun N’ Sun) which last year we had in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina looked 100% better than this show and the cost per booth (yes that’s a table with a drape on and a wall behind you) is much less expensive and nicer.

  2. elizzy said

    Isn’t the NADL over at the CDS?
    Associate Q are you a technician or a sales guy?

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