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VIDEO - DUwHF #711 - Gordon Craig
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AUDIO - DUwHF #711 - Gordon Craig
Gordon has over twenty years of professional business development, sales, marketing and corporate communications experience. He currently is the President & CEO of Sterngold Dental, LLC, a medical device manufacturing company serving the dental industry. Prior to this he was Vice President & General Manager at Sterngold Dental LLC. He previously held the position as Director of Marketing & E-Business and managed all of the marketing activities and operations for the Precious Metals Division of Cookson Group. Gordon was also the Director of Marketing & E-Commerce for Sterngold Dental, a subsidiary of Cookson Precious Metals. During his time at Sterngold he successfully launched a fully-integrated e-business platform for the company.
Earlier in his career, Gordon was a Marketing Analyst for Neptco, Inc., a manufacturer of wire and cable products. He also was the Corporate Communications and Public Relations Manager for Cookson America, Inc. located in Providence, Rhode Island.
Gordon holds a MBA from the University of Rhode Island and a bachelor’s degree in Corporate Communications and Marketing from Roger Williams University (Bristol, RI).
Gordon has been married to his wife Kristen for 19 years, they have three children together and reside in Tiverton, RI.
Howard Farran: It is just a huge honor for me today to be podcast interviewing Gordon S. Craig the third. I assume, Gordon, you are named after Gordon Christian?
Gordon Craig: I am the late late son of Gordon Christensen.
Howard Farran: Right on, he is the official God of dentistry, he is the heir to GV Black from America who is the era parent of Pierre Fauchard from France. Gordon has over 20 years of professional business development, sales, marketing and corporate communications experience. He currently is the President and CEO of Sterngold Dental, a medical device manufacturing company serving the dental industry. Prior to this he was Vice President and General Manager at Sterngold Dental, he previously held the position as Director of Marketing and E-Business and managed all the marketing activities and operations for the precious metal divisions of Cooks and Group. Gordon was also the Director or Marketing and E-Commerce for Sterngold Dental, a subsidiary of Cooks and Precious Metals.
During his time at Sterngold he successfully launched a fully integrated E-Business platform for the company. Earlier in his career, Gordon was a Marketing Analyst for Nepco Inc, a manufacturer of wire and cable products. He was the Corporate Communications and Public Relations Manager for Cooks and America, located in Providence, Rhode Island. Gordon holds an MBA from the University of Rhode Island and a Bachelor's Degree in Corporate Communications and Marketing from Roger Williams University. Those are three degrees I wish every dentist had.
Gordon has been married to his wife, Kristin for 19 years. They have three children together and reside in Tiverton, Rhode Island. Before I get to what I want to talk about, I'm just curious, at the Greater New York meeting, this last one, out of nowhere amazon.com had a really big booth.
Gordon Craig: Yes.
Howard Farran: And you have a lot of experience in E-Commerce.
Gordon Craig: Yes.
Howard Farran: Do you think they're going to start carrying Sterngold and 3M and all dentist supplies, Sirona, do you think that's around the corner?
Gordon Craig: Interestingly enough Howard, our products are currently on Amazon and have been on Amazon for three years. They start ...
Howard Farran: Really, I'm going to fact check that because I have my Amazon Prime button, so go on, continue.
Gordon Craig: Yeah, so they started by carving out a professional development area within the retail space. They stopped building it though. They were going to build it, they came to us three years ago and we got invited to a private showing of what they were planning on doing. We signed on because one of the interesting things is we sell direct. So we sell from our manufacturing facility directly to the customer and the customer being dental laboratories and clinicians.
We don't sell through traditional distributors here in the United States but Amazon came to us and said he, we want to have an outlet and they gave us all the ins and out on it and for, really, a great deal. It was about 11 percent to have our products out there. And they handle everything from fulfillment, to the customer collections, et cetera. So we put our products out there, not all of them but about a quarter of them. And then Amazon for some reason stopped, they paused, because what they were going to do was have a separate aspect of the site. In other words a closed site rather than just going in as a retail customer, you would have to prove to Amazon that you were a professional. I.e., through licensure, or some other documentation in order to really buy on the professional side.
So it sounds like that they're reinvigorating that. If they came to the Greater New York and they're going to do this again, it sounds like to me that they're going to continue with this. But we've been selling products. We've sold, I would say a little bit of product out through Amazon. It hasn't set the world on fire, but they're a behemoth. They have a ...
Howard Farran: Yeah I don't really understand my app because I signed up for Amazon Prime but I guess my app is Amazon regular. But anyway, I did a search for Sterngold Dental and it shows 31 results. The first one is a book on Lyme Disease, second one is Burning Down the House, maybe I'm in the book section. Can you find Sterngold Dental on Amazon? Yeah, I, to me I'm old school it's a lot easier to text my assistant, Rebecca and just say will you order me this book and then ...
Gordon Craig: I bet, type in easy pick up material, you'll see that out there.
Howard Farran: Huh. So and by the way, I want to do a little background first with my homies listening to this. When I was a little kid, I grew up with five sisters, my little brother wasn't born until I was 17, but on vacations, my dad loved vacations and we did two things on every vacation. We went to the biggest, funnest amusement park like Six Flags or whatever, Disneyland. And on the way there, we'd always stop at these places where he'd arrange tours. So I saw big tours Coors, Budweiser, we bought a family vacation car and my dad arranged it so we'd go on vacation, see the car go all the way down while they were pulling us on a tram, an electric golf cart tram, he just loved to see stuff made.
And when I started Dental Town, I had an open community for anyone who works full time in the sovereign profession of dentistry. And all these dentists would get mad and say, well there's there guys on there and then their manufacturers and they're trying to sell stuff. And I'm like, well dude what are you, a volunteer? What are you doing free root canals and crowns? How come when you sell a crown or veneer or an implant, it's all good, but when someone sells a root canal file it's all bad? And I held my ground. And then on the magazine, on the cover I used to always on behalf of my dad, had a corporate profile. And I loved it because every month I'd get to learn about something like [inaudible 00:06:13] and see how Ken Austin and his wife one end is leather and wood and this and the other end is a damn dental chair. I love these stories. But everybody would say oh it's a throwaway rag, the cover of it is a dental company selling something, I want a peer reviewed journal like [inaudible 00:06:33]. And it's like dude you haven't read [inaudible 00:06:36] one time in a decade.
And I don't know why dentists are so anti corporate, when the way I see it in reality, if I close down 500 dental companies, I'm sitting outside on a rug with a bunch of stuff from Home Depot, the only reason I look so good is from 500 companies making me all these amazing high tech products. And I've asked my editorial team, we'd go back to the corporate profile and they'd say no, it makes them say it's a throwaway magazine, it's a rag. So I called you, Gordon, you did not call me. And a lot of my homies might be thinking well why are you having a guy on who's not a dentist. Well number one he was named after Gordon Christian so shut up, but I called you because you are passionate about restorative dentistry and helping to create access to affordable dentistry for all. What does that mean? How is Sterngold and how are you passionate about making restorative dentistry affordable to all?
Gordon Craig: Well listen, Sterngold's been around for 120 years, we were started in 1897. So we've been through the ups, downs of the dental industry, we've been through products that started out traditionally with precious metals. And then going into attachments and then into implants and then into the restorative composites and cements and then now into digital. So Sterngold has always been a manufacturer, okay, so we've been down in the trenches. We know what it takes to develop and create and market dental materials. We've seen what goes on, we've seen with companies coming in with this overpriced materials, passing through several hands, multiple chains. And every time the prices increases, increases, increases, finally there's products out there still today, Howard, that really an average American, a middle class person, doesn't have access to because they're prices too high.
So we control the supply chain, we manufacture, we bring it from raw material all the way up through value added and present it to either a dental laboratory or a clinician to be used on a patient. And what we feel is that we can control the manufacturing supply chain, we can add value and maintain the highest quality to bring that product to market and price it so that it has access to everyone. What we want to do is we want to make sure that we can treat patients and bring back their quality of life through the use of attachments that are used on implants. We can have attachments in conjunction with overdentures. So rather than having just a person with conventional dentures with no implants, no attachments, we can bring the quality of life back to them in an affordable way.
Howard Farran: When they come to the Phoenix Valley, and they're like I don't want to go to Phoenix, bunch of poor people born in a barn, I'm going to North Scottsdale where all the money is. You go to all these dental conventions, all the implant courses are all these all on fours, 25,000 dollar charge, and they think that's where all the money is, at Nordstrom's Nordstrom's Nordstrom's. And I always tell them all the money is at Walmart, Ikea, Southwest Airlines, Costco, Sam's Club. And for everyone who goes takes these all on four courses, they'll probably buy 100,000 dollar CBCT machine, do 50,000 CE, get 50,000 dollars in stuff and never do an all on four one time in their life, but they went to nine courses on it.
Meanwhile, back at the dental office, grandma keeps coming in and you're adjusting her denture and you think she doesn't have any money. I'm asking you, would you rather own Nordstrom's or Walmart?
Gordon Craig: Look, what do you read about in the newspaper? Who are the top four or within the top ten of the Forbes most wealthiest people in the world? What are the four names? I think that probably four out of the top ten go by the last name Walton, right? So, you tell me. I think I would rather own the Walmart than the Nordstrom.
Howard Farran: And we did a podcast with an oral surgeon from Germany and he said, you know what? For 20 years, he just thought of these root forms, full mouth rehab, he was doing about 500 implants a year. But then he realized, there's actually a lot of poor people in Germany so he got into minis and overdentures. He said it didn't affect his Cadillac, root form, full mouth. But now he does 500 root forms, and 500 minis, for the same reason GM has a Chevy, a Pontiac, an Olds, a Buick, and a Cadillac and so many of these dentists just chase the Cadillac and they do it in the dumbest places of the world like Shawnee, Oklahoma. It's like really? Do they have a lot of Cadillac dealerships there? Because when I drove through there, looks like they had a lot of Ford pickup truck dealerships.
So in Sterngold, go through percent wise, what is the percent of your revenue categories? Like I think of you as mini implants or implants. What are your top items, what are you selling mostly?
Gordon Craig: Okay so we have four divisions. Okay, there's four major divisions within Sterngold. And those are, and this is not in order of priority, it's just order of alphabetical order, okay? So we have alloys, we have attachments, we have implants, and then we have Sterngold restorative systems, okay? So alloys has been the heritage of the Sterngold ...
Howard Farran: Wait, just wait. Alloys, attachments, implants, and fourth was what?
Gordon Craig: Restorative systems, okay? So restorative systems are consumable products, and I'll touch on that in a moment. And there's value in that ...
Howard Farran: And before you explain all four of those, just one quick question. What percent of your sales goes to labs versus dentists?
Gordon Craig: For all intents and purposes, we're going to call it 50 50, okay? It's probably 55 45 but it's pretty much right there.
Howard Farran: And then one last thing just before I'll let you go is, you said your company was started when?
Gordon Craig: 1897.
Howard Farran: And I've got to tell you, you were saying how you've been through it all, most of the young kids don't realize, do you realize that back in the day the American Dental Association literally had to shut down because of a split. Because they introduced this new low cost amalgam for all these millions of poor Americans and the rich, mighty, all on four, cad cam, CBCT, Cerec doctors said no it has to be gold. And what they don't understand is that when you don't treat the poor with a Chevy, then what you're saying, because they can't afford your Cadillac, what you're saying is that no dentistry is better than some dentistry. And that is morally, ethically, and businessly wrong.
If a poor man can't afford all on four, but he can afford an overdenture, knock him out. If a poor man could only afford an amalgam and you only sell a cad cam onlay from the nicest lab in town, I mean some care. You've got to have empathy and sympathy for all markets. And I also don't like the target marketing where doctors say, well I want to do marketing and I just want to get rich people who need full mouth reconstruction. Dude you're a doctor. You're supposed to, when you're in an emergency room, you treat the poor, the immigrant, there's no baggage.
When a human walks in your door, you put on your doctor hat, get out some empathy and sympathy and work with this person. And I've never liked target marketing. I'm here for Ahwatukee, and if anybody in Ahwatukee has a dental problem, I want to help you. And that's what I love about you, that's why I wanted you on my show and that's why I called you and you didn't call me, for your passion for affordable dentistry. So after that rant, go through your four divisions, alloys, attachments, implants, and restorative systems.
Gordon Craig: Yeah, so let's face it. Alloys is a shrinking market. They're expensive, there is a much more aesthetic value now in new technology so that represents a very small percentage of our business. But, go back 75, 80 years ago, that was 100 percent of our business. Sterngold has changed significantly. We are a new company, we are completely different.
Attachments came in in the 1960's and we developed attachments since then. We're the largest single source provider of the different types of dental attachments that are out there. If you [crosstalk 00:15:42] ...
Howard Farran: You're the largest seller of attachments?
Gordon Craig: We have the largest selection of attachments in the world. We have over 600 different attachment systems.
Howard Farran: When are you going to make me an online CE course about going over the bread and butter attachments?
Gordon Craig: We can do it next week, let's ...
Howard Farran: Hey these millennials are smart, they don't want to wait for a yearly convention to go sit in a brick and building convention center and wear a name tag. The are online CE courses are going crazy, because they're just so easy and cheap and affordable.
Gordon Craig: We can do it. We already have it in the can, we'll just modify it ...
Howard Farran: Because when I talk to doctors about attachments, I mean, they have a lot of problems with it. THey're afraid that when they take the impression it's going to lock on. And I'll tell you what your biggest problem is in attachments. This is your biggest problem. When a dentist does something every week, they get fast and profitable at it. When they do something once a month, they never really hit critical mass. And I always tell dentists, don't get into anything unless you can do this once a week.
Because if you only do an implant once a month, and then you're like okay, what do I do, why does this happen. And the attachments it seems like if they focus more on attachments, but anyway so you got to get an online CE course that really makes it bullet proof, where they've got a better system because they're afraid of some of the things where they don't remember.
Gordon Craig: Here's the one thing I want to say that, for the people that are listening. And here's the thing, doctors get into issues, they get into situations, they get into a case where they look at it and they're like oh my God I can't restore the singer, how am I going to restore the singer, the surgeon put the implants in sideways and what am I going to do? Or, you get those cases, everyone's had them, you've had them, you probably will have more, and ...
Howard Farran: And you know what I do when I have that case? You want to know what I do? I tell my assistant, hold my beer, I'm really going to focus right now.
Gordon Craig: Exactly. Well here's what you've got to do. Hold your beer and dial Sterngold because we can get you out of that trouble. We have something ...
Howard Farran: So what's the number?
Gordon Craig: It's 800-243-9942.
Howard Farran: And then you get forwarded to a lab tech, or what?
Gordon Craig: We have technicians, we have technicians here, but our customer service people are equally informed about technical aspects. So we've got multiple layers, we can help online, we've got YouTube videos, we've got how to videos, we've got customer service folks, we have technical CDT's on staff, ready to help any of the customer questions that come through.
Howard Farran: Okay, how many YouTube videos do you have?
Gordon Craig: I have no idea.
Howard Farran: Well I'll tell you what, at the end of this podcast, email me whatever YouTube videos you want at the end because a lot of people have loved that where I interview someone and they've got one or two YouTube videos on their website, some have more. But email them to me and Ryan, howard@dentaltown, ryan@dentaltown, and we'll put them in the end so they can see more of a flavor for what you're talking about.
Gordon Craig: I mean we probably have 50 of them, so we have a lot of them. Because pictures are worth a thousand words. So right now, over the years we've been establishing, instead of having instructions for use that are written, right? The old way, written down instructions, step one, step two, step three. That's gone. The new way of learning is watching videos, learning, seeing someone else do it. So we've taken all of those printed instructions for use and we've made them come to life in YouTube videos.
Howard Farran: Nice.
Gordon Craig: So it really cuts down on the learning curve, right? You watch a video and the number of questions that you had before you watched the video, you might have had 15. You watch a two or three or four minute video and now all those questions have really been answered. But you and I could've spent a half hour on the phone trying to figure that out and get to the root of what you were looking for. You watch a video and it's solved instamatically. So, it saves time on both sides.
Howard Farran: So, look, you're in attachments right?
Gordon Craig: We're still very much in attachments, heavy heavy ...
Howard Farran: No no no, I mean you're still talking attachments, you had alloys, attachments, implants, restorative system, what is your top seller, bread and butter, easiest attachment system for when grandma comes in and you need to place, your Australian, New Zealand, they place one down the middle in the symphysis, I think they do it better. Americans for some reason want the two canine areas and the two, but what is your bread and butter implant attachment system for grandma's loose fitting denture?
Gordon Craig: Okay, I'm going to give you three. Because they're ...
Howard Farran: And that's the course you need to build on Dental Town.
Gordon Craig: Yeah. There's three. The easiest one if someone's got dexterity issues, they might have some Alzheimer's, they might have some arthritis. The best attachment that we have for the overdenture for that case is an ORA. And it's an O-ring abutment system. They can bite it into place, it's very easy, it's forgiving and it allows for patients of that age group and also of lack of mobility and proprioception, they can still remove their denture and seat their denture very easily.
We have a snap attachment, which offers angle correction. So we can do angle correction at abutment level so that the path of insertion is still parallel and that there's not excessive wear on the parts.
And then of course the tried and true ERA is also available. ERA first came out on the market in 1985 and still to this day is still one of the top sellers in the company.
Howard Farran: Now, did Sterngold invent ORA, snap attachment, and ERA? Or are those mergers and acquisitions?
Gordon Craig: The snap attachment was developed by Sterngold, the ERA was developed by Sterngold, and the ORA is also internally developed but it's been replicated by many other companies on the market. So I mean it's not a brand new idea, but what we do is we have the widest selection of those abutments available for all types of implant platforms. So the ERA for example, fits on 170 different implant brands. Can you believe there's a 170 different implants in the world?
Howard Farran: There was actually at the last, my favorite meeting in the world's the every other meeting in Europe, the IDS, it's in Copenhagen. The entire city treats you like royalty. There were 170 implant companies at the convention and rumor has it there was another hundred around the world that didn't come. How many total implant companies do you believe are on planet earth right now?
Gordon Craig: There is, to my knowledge, 335.
Howard Farran: Oh my God, that's the biggest number I've heard to date.
Gordon Craig: It's true.
Howard Farran: 335. How about after the show you and I start an implant company?
Gordon Craig: I'll send you the list.
Howard Farran: Will you, will you please do it?
Gordon Craig: I will, I'll photocopy it. I've got a list.
Howard Farran: No no, I want it digital.
Gordon Craig: I'll send it digitally.
Howard Farran: Okay, yeah. 335 dental implant companies, that is amazing. And you right now, you're working with 170 implant systems. How many actual attachment systems does Sterngold actually have?
Gordon Craig: Attachments? Or how many implant systems?
Howard Farran: Attachments.
Gordon Craig: Okay so we have over 600 different types of attachments. Not all of those go onto implants. Those also go onto natural tooth roots, we have segmenting, we have all the types of precision, non precision, resilient, non resilient, you know, you name is. You can slice and dice it any way you can, but we have the widest variety of dental attachment options. More than anyone else in the world.
Howard Farran: That is amazing. So I bet most of that's going to labs though. Because I bet the dentists can't name three attachments, so that's probably the lab man figuring that out.
Gordon Craig: Exactly. So it's a hybrid, Howard. What happens is that the first time the case is done, that is done and it's born by the lab, right? The lab prescribes the attachment, this is what we're going to use. But then going forward, maintenance wise, replacement O-rings or replacement parts, maintenance parts would be purchased directly by the clinician.
Howard Farran: So I want to, you've been in dental for 18 years, you're 45, I graduated 30 years from dental school yesterday on May 11th. So I've been here 30 years. When I got out of school, there were like 15,000 labs. Today I hear the number's been cut in half. Is that what you're seeing too? You're dealing with all these labs.
Gordon Craig: Yes, I would agree with that.
Howard Farran: How many labs do you think are in the United States today?
Gordon Craig: I would say that we're probably hovering around eight to nine thousand labs.
Howard Farran: So I know it was 15,000 when I got out, and you're saying it's at eight to nine thousand. A lot of them are scared. Are they going to go the way of the pterodactyl, or do you think they're going to come back? Or where's labs going to be in 20 years from now, or 10?
Gordon Craig: Well here's what's going on. The labs that are successful are getting larger. There's an enormous amount of equity money being pumped into dentistry, both on the clinical side and on the laboratory side. Dentistry is going corporate, is what's happening. And it's happening for a number of reasons. But you see it currently on the clinical side, if you put your ear down to the ground, you can hear almost like a sucking sound of all of these practices are becoming corporate.
Now I have my own opinion on this, and I think that a lot of it is happening because number one, dentists who are entering the point of retirement are looking to get a golden parachute. And traditional lenders, banks, and other commercial lenders are not lending money to brand new dentists who are getting out of school, okay? So the traditional way of getting a golden parachute as a dentist is gone away. You don't have a younger dentist coming in that's purchasing the practice and continuing on. So what's happening is corporate dentistry's coming in and backed by equity firms, right? And that's the way that dentists are retiring and transitioning their practice.
The other thing that's happening is that more and more dentists are wanting to just practice. They're not wanting to worry about paying salaries of staff, managing staff, worried about overhead, they want to practice. And then also when you have more and more of females, right? So I think, you might know this better than I, but I think two years ago was the first time ever that in total, graduating dentists that are getting out of school, two years ago was the first time ever that there was more females than males that graduated in that year, that graduated from dental school. More females were getting dental degrees than males. So, dentistry for females is a wonderful career to get into because you can have mother's hours, you can have flexible work schedules. So I think there's a lot of things that are changing the landscape of dentistry, corporately driven. It's happening on the lab side too.
So what's happening with the labs is that labs are getting more efficient, they're getting larger, they've had to invest tremendously in digital to convert from traditional ways of doing lab work, to the new way which is almost, there's some labs that are 100 percent digital. That lab bench with the stone dust and the noisy equipment, all that's gone, and now you have a couple million machines, you have a computer, and you have a scanner, and you're in business. That transition for the one to two man lab, which is the predominance of labs, right?
So go back 30 years ago, there was 15,000 labs. Still back then, if you took the largest lab, let's say Glidewell, right? The largest lab and you went to the smallest lab, in order of priority, when you got from one to about 1,500 or 2,000, right? Everything over 2,000 the top 2,000 labs, everything over from 2,000 to 15,000 are one or two man labs, that's it. Small operation out of a garage, out of a basement of a house, very very small. The predominance of the closure, the shrinkage of those labs have been those one or two man labs, that have shrunk. They've gone by the wayside.
If you look around with the bigger labs, you know the ones that are still major players, they're expanding. They're getting more business. Certainly the globalization has helped. You know, you can FedEx anything overnight anywhere in the world. And you can get crowns, instead of getting a crown down the street, you can get a crown from across the country or as much as I hate to say it, outside of the country. We don't do business that way. Sterngold manufactures all of their implants here in the united states right here in Attleborough in the factory that I'm sitting in right now. And also, our attachments come from here domestically, as well as reputable companies that are in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland. So there's European countries that provide [crosstalk 00:31:35] ...
Howard Farran: So labs 2,000 to eight or nine thousand left out of 15,000 30 years ago, those are one or two man labs.
Gordon Craig: They still are.
Howard Farran: But that one, the big dog is Glidewell to 2,000, what is the average size of those labs?
Gordon Craig: You've got labs out that are still quite large. So you'll have anywhere between, I would say that the average size lab that is in the top, let's say if we said Glidewell to 500, top 500, you're talking about labs that have 50 to 150 employees.
Howard Farran: And do you think those guys will be around in 20 years?
Gordon Craig: I think so. I think so, because ...
Howard Farran: So you're saying it's just the consolidation, the high tech is driving a massive consolidation?
Gordon Craig: Yeah [inaudible 00:32:37]
Howard Farran: And we saw this in healthcare too because as the equipment kept getting more and more expensive, you couldn't buy an MRI and an ultrasound, you couldn't buy CAT scans and have one dentist use it. So it was the MRI that killed the single practicing physician. And right now, what's the funniest thing in dentistry is everybody out there trying to tell you to buy a CBCT, and Cerec machine, and a biolase, are the same three guys bad mouthing corporate dentistry. It's like dude if you come out of school 350,000 dollars in debt, and you buy 100,000 dollar CBCT, 150,000 dollar CAD/CAM, and a 85,000 dollar laser, well then you're a corporate. You're a group practice.
Gordon Craig: Yeah, exactly. And you know what, here's the thing, what you just described is not what the average dentist does, right? There's certainly a segment of the dentists out there that are going to buy every single thing under the planet and the fact is, money is no object for those guys, they're going to get it. They're going to get the Cerecs, they're going to get the cone beams, they're going to get all the stuff. But it's still a niche. If you really get down to it, it's still a niche. Even corporate dentistry, they don't have all that stuff all in every single practice. They've got centralized, they have implant centers, they have centralized centers. They don't have every single office outfitted with all the latest and greatest technology. It's super expensive.
But one thing that's, let's talk about groups for a second because groups are near and dear to our heart, actually. We spend a lot of time and energy with groups, and they're a big segment of our business. And they're a big segment for two reasons. One is, is that we understand their business model. And we also fit very well with their business model because we make affordable dental products. They're looking for affordable dental products. Because they want to reach a much wider demographic of population. So since we understand their business model and they understand that we're providing products to them that are affordable, it's a good fit. And they like us, we like them. And we've grown, a significant portion of our growth year on year has been attributed to corporate dentistry, so.
Howard Farran: What are the CEO's of the corporates that you like and work with and endear to the most? Is it Rick Workman of Heartland Dental? Is it Steven Thorne of Pacific? Is it Fontana at Aspen? Who ...
Gordon Craig: Listen, um ...
Howard Farran: Which ones are your drinking buddies? You're in Boston, so I know you're a pub beer drinker.
Gordon Craig: There is about six or seven of the names that you know very very well. Unfortunately I cannot disclose those names [crosstalk 00:35:42] ...
Howard Farran: Well hey will you do me a favor, I've podcast, a lot of them are shy because the general dentists are throwing shots at them, you know? They represent change and I podcast Rick Workman and Steve Thorne, but if you're close to five more besides Rick Workman and Steve Thorne, podcast them. Because what I like to do, I like Rick Workman's podcast the best. His podcast, he called it, what'd he call it? Dogs bark at things they don't understand. And what these guys don't know, is they bad mouth all this corporate dentistry, you couldn't find a finer person than Rick Workman and Steve Thorne. I mean on any measurement of any scale, love, charity, I mean these are just two of the nicest people in dentistry.
So I'd like to get them on the show so you realize, you might be mad that dentistry is consolidating, but don't shoot the messenger. Just because Rick's the guy doing it, it's going to be done anyway and I'd rather have someone like Rick and Steve Thorne. So if you're close with those other ones, send them my way. But back to your passion of making dentistry affordable, I actually like Aspen's business model the most because they're going where the dentists ain't. The dentists are all going to Scottsdale and Beverly Hills and Key Biscayne, and Aspen's going where the rich dentists don't want to go and they're taking Medicaid and Medicare and they're going into underserved areas and crushing it.
Because my homies think that you want to own a Ruth's Chris, not a McDonald's. And I'd rather own a Big Mac factory any day of the week than a Ruth's Chris factory. They just don't get it. But Aspen, I think gets it the most of going to the poor and underserved, do you agree with that or disagree?
Gordon Craig: I agree with that 100 percent. And you know what ...
Howard Farran: And the other one's affordable dentures. That chain. Do you know that's the oldest chain, that company's as old as you guys. That's a 100 year old company.
Gordon Craig: That's right.
Howard Farran: And you know what their [crosstalk 00:37:36] ...
Gordon Craig: You know where they started?
Howard Farran: Where?
Gordon Craig: Kinston, North Carolina. It's a little little little town, check it out, it's about an hour and a half away from Raleigh. And it's the smallest little town you could ever imagine.
Howard Farran: And who would've guessed 100 years later, dentists still don't want to do dentures. It's like fine, there's a chain of affordable dental centers and they're crushing millions of dollars a week. They don't want to do overdentures. Fine, fine let Aspen move into town and do them for you. If I had to have a business model on the richest one percent or the 13 percent of Americans living below the poverty line, I'd take below the poverty line any day. I mean, you know how many poor people I know that say they love Taco Bell because they can eat there every day for one dollar. For one dollar, you can get a taco and a drink. That's where the money is. What's that?
Gordon Craig: That's right. And you can eat there [crosstalk 00:38:37] ...
Howard Farran: In fact, Ryan, go to Taco Bell right now, I want to eat a bean burrito on that note. Can you run down there and get that? But yeah.
Gordon Craig: So here's the most important thing, okay? I want to talk briefly about demographic. Demographics of the baby boomers. Okay, let's talk about that for a second because that ties directly into my passion for affordable dentistry, okay? There's three major problems that baby boomers are facing as they enter retirement, right? So Howard, ADA numbers, 2011 was the beginning, January of 2011 was the beginning of the baby boomers entering into retirement. So starting in January of 2011, in the United States, right? Just let's talk United States for a minute. 10,000 individuals began turning 65 every single day in the United States. Not are over 65, turning 65 so they're hitting that mile marker. 10,000 individuals a day every day starting in January 2011 and that's going to continue every day, day in and day out, for the next 19 years. It's the largest bulge in the population, okay?
Now, these guys and ladies, they want to look good, they want to feel good, so they're willing ...
Howard Farran: You're saying it's going to go on for 19 more years as of today? Or 19 years from the year 2011?
Gordon Craig: 19 years from 2011.
Howard Farran: So until 2030?
Gordon Craig: Yep.
Howard Farran: Okay.
Gordon Craig: All right? So, we've got another 13 years of baby boomers turning 65, right? So what's happening with these guys? They want to look good, they want to feel good, they're willing to spend money, but, here's the big but. There's a lot of things happening with them socioeconomically, okay?
Number one, many of them, and this is the bulk you can read about it online, you can read it in every blog, or every financial journal. A predominance, a large predominance of that segment of the population is playing catch up with their own retirement money, right? They didn't save enough when they were younger, now they're trying to catch up, right? That's a fact. We can dispute it, but it's a fact.
Second thing is, their parents, the baby boomer's parents are still alive, many of them. And they have their own needs and also many many of the baby boomers are funding the continuation of their parents lives. And then you go the other way, many of the baby boomers children, who have either graduated college or didn't go to college, are still living at home. So there's three major things pulling on the purse strings.
So now let's talk about dentistry, right? A baby boomer is going to need dentistry, it's the largest segment of the population, they're going to need dentistry, and they have a lot of choices. We can go all on four clear choice, let's go 25,000 dollars an arch, we can work it all the way back down to a conventional denture with no implants, no attachments, for 800 dollars an arch at affordable dentures, right? And then there's probably 15 layers of functional dental solution, restorative solutions in between those two spectrums.
We can do hybrids, we could do full mouth restoration, we could do if there's natural teeth we could do crown and bridge, we can do partials, we could do a couple implants on an overdenture, we could do, you know, you name it we can land wherever the patient really feels comfortable landing. So at Sterngold, our focus is, let's not go after the high end patient where they're few and far between. Let's create a solution, restorative solution that reaches the masses. That doesn't cripple someone from a financial standpoint, but still gives them all of the function and the security that they're looking for in a restoration.
You know, we shouldn't give anybody, there should be anybody on this planet, I believe, that should have a conventional anymore. Not supported by some type of implant, attachment solution. Even if it's just two implants in the mandible with a very basic snap attachment that they can snap their dentures in.
Howard Farran: If you're born blind, you're fine your whole life. But if you have your sight until you're 65 and you lose your sight, you're not a very happy camper. And if they get their denture in their 20's, they're good. It's when they get their dentures when they're 50 or 60 or 70 or 80, then they're cranky.
Gordon Craig: Yeah.
Howard Farran: So if that's all you know, you're good.
Gordon Craig: Right.
Howard Farran: That's why I think my four boys are amazing. Because they're the only four I've had. I don't know any better, Ryan. I just assume you're a great kid. But yeah, but anyway continue though.
Gordon Craig: Yeah, so again, ties back into what I'm passionate about is I want to make sure that number one, all the baby boomers in the United States can have access to good restorative dentistry. And not have a piece of plastic pushing between soft tissue and bone and not being able to eat. You know, you put two implants in the mandible with an attachment on it, that patient has a biting force increase of 300 percent versus a conventional denture that is just got, you know, let's say Fixadent underneath it.
And it's a whole body approach, right? Because everything starts in the mouth. If you have a piece of plastic in your mouth and you can't eat, you're going to eat soft foods, that affects your diet, that affects your long term health because you're not eating all of the foods that are going to maintain your overall health. You're not chewing on carrots, you're not chewing on fruits and vegetables as much. And you're not going to blend it up and try to drink something that's unsavory.
Howard Farran: Totally agree. By the way if you're, all my homies are driving a car right now so a lot of times you know, they can't take notes, but a lot of times I always retweet my guests Twitter, and they can just go to @HowardFarran. You're @SterngoldLLC and I just retweeted your Isaiah Thomas, "Don't worry Isaiah Thomas, we'll help you replace that missing teeth". Which is a perfect segway, so if you're driving and you want to find this Sterngold deal, just go to @HowardFarran and my last retweet was @SterngoldLLC.
So if Isaiah Thomas walked in your office, what would you do for him?
Gordon Craig: Whatever he wanted.
Howard Farran: I'll never forget, I'm looking at that picture of him with that missing tooth and his sleeve with tattoos, I'll never forget this Phoenix Suns home of the Charles Barkley back in the day. So I had six amazing tickets in the lower section with my four boys and I'll never forget the first time we played the Bulls. And Dennis Rodman walked on, I think at the time I only had like one or two boys and I think Eric was like three, and he looked, and he was probably sitting in like the sixth row. And he sees him walk right by him and he turns to me and he taps me on the shoulder and I go yeah, Eric? And he goes, his mom's going to be mad at him because he's not supposed to draw on himself.
I love those fresh kids thoughts. But so, segway, go ahead.
Gordon Craig: Yeah, one more thing. Let's talk about implants for a minute. We have a number of different implant systems. We've got the True, the Pure, the EX, the IC, the More, and also the ERA mini implant. So we've got mini implants, traditional implants, prosthetically compatible with other companies that have prosthetic platforms on the market. And again, we manufacture all of these, we sell them direct, our pricing will rival most other companies. Our customers find that our products not only have the quality and the connections, the fits. One of the things that our forte is that we have, because we manufacture attachments for all the other implant systems that are out on the marketplace, we have the most complete set of intellectual property. In other words, we know from an engineering standpoint, the intimate knowledge of the connections of all these implants because we create attachments for all of these implant systems.
So when a new implant system comes out on the market, we take the time to engineer an attachment to fit onto that new implant. And we have a complete library of those connections. What that's helped us with is number one, creating our own implant system prosthetics, because we already had that intimate knowledge. Secondly, now that dentistry is going digital, with the use of these software companies like exocad and 3Shape and Dental Wings, our products are in their catalogs, their digital catalogs. So if a customer is creating a case digitally in one of those software platforms, they can pull our products into that case directly from the library.
Howard Farran: You said exocad, a lot of my homies might not know what that is, what is exocad.com?
Gordon Craig: Exocad is a 3D software rendering package. Much like, have you heard of 3Shape?
Howard Farran: By, 3Shape, is that, what's 3M's called? [crosstalk 00:49:53] You're talking about, that's Copenhagen Denmark, 3Shape.
Gordon Craig: 3Shape, it is a German company. They have a software, right? The software package runs on a computer and it connects directly to a mill. So if a laboratory is creating a case, it could have metal framework, might be a partial, it could be a single tooth crown, a lot of that is done now digitally. And there's a visualizer where you can see how it's going to look but then there's an output that it can go to a 3D printer or it can go to a mill and actually create products directly from the software. That's where all the labs and everything's going digital.
So at Sterngold we have a whole division focused on not only taking existing products and making them digital friendly, but also in our product development system, we're focusing on creating new products that are in the digital realm.
Howard Farran: So if a young kid's listening and saying okay, you deal with all these guys. They know the one from 3Shape, Trios, from Copenhagen Denmark, what's the name of the 3M scanner? True Def?
Gordon Craig: Ah, yeah there's so many scanners out there I think it's True Def.
Howard Farran: Well about that exocad, why did you mention them? Where are they out of?
Gordon Craig: They're out of Germany and they have an office here in Andover, Massachusetts. Their US facility is here. Exocad is very similar to 3Shape, it's just a competitor, right? So their software does basically the same thing. And Dental Wings is yet another player in this 3D software realm.
Howard Farran: And if you were a dentist and you deal with all these implant companies and you deal with exocad and 3Shape and Dental Wings, and 3M. If they were going to go that route, which one would you recommend?
Gordon Craig: I'm going to reserve comment on that because I ...
Howard Farran: You're going to channel conflict, you don't want to piss off ... No that's called channel conflict, you don't want to piss off your own customers. Is that right?
Gordon Craig: Exactly. I think they all work, we participate with them, I don't know any of the prices or any of the options that are, I've never purchased any one of those pieces of software. So I could imagine that there's probably some ins and outs, some features that are beneficial for certain types of cases. I don't have that level of detail. Uh I would say ...
Howard Farran: Now does Sterngold only ...
Gordon Craig: What I would say to the customers that are listening, the audience, is that those three names, the Dental Wings, Exocad, and 3Shape are the top three that I'm aware of this planet. So if you're interested in going in that direction, look at all three. And then decide on your own which one is going to best suit your needs.
Howard Farran: And, very good advice, and 3Shape you said was Copenhagen Denmark, Dental Wings was where?
Gordon Craig: I can look it up I'm not sure exactly where ...
Howard Farran: No that's all right, do you know where Exocad was?
Gordon Craig: Exocad's German and they've got a, the US office is here in Andover, Massachusetts.
Howard Farran: Right on. Now is Sterngold all mini implants?
Gordon Craig: All mini implants?
Howard Farran: Or do you do just mini implants? Or do you do large diameter?
Gordon Craig: Yes, we do conventional. So the true ...
Howard Farran: So you call them mini and conventionals?
Gordon Craig: Yeah. Yep. And there's interestingly enough, Howard ...
Howard Farran: Oh, Dental Wings is, oh my God we should've known that, that's Montreal Quebec. Isn't there a hockey team, where's the hockey team the Wings?
Gordon Craig: The Red Wings, Detroit.
Howard Farran: Oh Redwings is Detroit? Okay, nevermind. Well I just showed you how not, I'm only smart if it's the NFL. All other sports, I'm not very smart.
Gordon Craig: Yeah we have this horrible team up here in New England, we don't have any good football up here.
Howard Farran: So you have mini implants and conventionals, what's the hotter sell? What do you sell more of minis or conventional root forms?
Gordon Craig: Are you talking US or worldwide?
Howard Farran: Divide it, tell us both. Pick it up.
Gordon Craig: Okay so if we're going to talk worldwide, we sell many many more conventional implants than minis. Here in the United States mini implants are a big portion of our business. We sell a lot of mini implants here in the United States.
Howard Farran: So you sell more minis in the US, but more conventional root forms international?
Gordon Craig: Yes.
Howard Farran: Why is that?
Gordon Craig: We've had, well Sterngold got into implants through acquisition in 1993. We acquired a company called Implemed out of Florida.
Howard Farran: Oh I've heard of them.
Gordon Craig: So we, and for a long time the company name was Sterngold Implemed but now we've dropped the Implemed name and it's Sterngold Dental. So, we built on that business that was started by Implemed and Implemed had a lot of strong dealers in many different countries worldwide. Sweden, Germany, Brazil, Colombia, Italy, even some countries in the far East. So we've continued to build that business. And many of those dealers that were started with Implemed are still with us today. So we've got dealers that are been with us 30 years.
Howard Farran: Hey my dealer's been with me since freshman year of college. Oh is that a different dealer? Oh you're talking dental dealers, okay. So that's how you get your [inaudible 00:56:28]. So I want to tell you something about Dental Town. You know we have 50 categories, root canals, fillings, crowns, et cetera. Under implants, we had to separate minis from the implants. Just like on CAD/CAM we had to separate E4D versus Cerec. Because if E4D guy posted, of course all the paid spokesmans for Cerec have to go on there and start saying you should've bought ... And it's like look, he's already made the decision, shut up, just leave him alone. And minis, every time someone posts a case on minis they go in there and say you shouldn't do a mini you should've done a root form. And we're like, dude.
So culturally, it's a schism among, there's dentists who don't believe in mini implants. Do you see that? Is that an issue?
Gordon Craig: Yes.
Howard Farran: What are your thoughts on it?
Gordon Craig: Well, historically, there has been definitely two camps. Definitely separated and never the two shall meet. But, it's changing, it's changing. And there's convergence now. And you'll see why, you'll see that conventional implants and conventional implant companies are making narrow diameter implants. There used to be, the smallest traditional implant diameter used to be, used to be 3.75. 3.75 millimeters in diameter. Now, we have 3.0's we actually have 2.7's, we have 2.9's, right? So the traditional conventional implants are getting narrower because there's applications in the mouth where you need a narrow diameter implant.
[inaudible 00:58:17] the minis, are actually getting bigger. So originally it was a 1.8 millimeter, now you have 2.3's, you have 2.4's, we have 2.8 millimeter mini implants. So, the big difference between a mini implant and a conventional implant is this. Historically a mini implant has a one piece design with an abutment on it already. It's geared for an overdenture, mainly an overdenture, it can be used in some cases in single tooth with a cement on abutment or some of them are one piece abutment which is preferable. You use them in certain areas, if you don't have enough bone, a severe case of an overdenture case that has been an overdenture for quite some time, lost a lot of bone. Or in cases where you have a patient who's missing their laterals. A lot of cases you cannot use a traditionally wide implant in those aesthetic regions.
So there's a time and a place for everything. You have let's say a 90 year old woman who doesn't have a lot of bone but wants to have some function for the rest of her life. You're not going to put her through this full mouth restoration and put in ten implants or even do an all on four case. You're going to go more for a mini implant with an overdenture. She probably has arthritis, she probably has some Alzheimer's, and you can create a solution for that particular patient.
So the convergence between mini and conventional dentures is really coming together. And it's not that one's better than the other, it's just that there's certain applications that would dictate a solution that would warrant maybe a mini versus a conventional or a conventional over a mini. But the lines have really kind of from a technology standpoint have kind of come together. And pricing also has also kind of slid together and the lines have been blurred in the recent years. So I think if you talk to Gordon Christensen, he'll tell you he's a big fan of mini implants. Big fan. He's also a big fan of conventional implants too. So ...
Howard Farran: And you know why that is? I mean, I know Gordon like the back of my hand, I think I've gone up and visited him, if it's not a dozen it's 20, is and he's in Provo, Utah. And everybody thinks everybody in Utah is rich and on a ski resort and a slope and all. But there's a lot of people who have really big families, and like you say, really big families where they're supporting the grandparents and if you have eight kids, how many of them might need help from mom and dad? And there's a lot of poor people.
When I learned about Gordon, he was a [inaudible 01:01:34] and if you were, who's that famous movie star Robert Redford who owns that ski resort by Provo. You know Robert Redford's a patient, he can do the big time treatments. But if you're a mom and you've got eight kids and your husband lost his job and you're helping your grandparents, he'd fix that too. I mean Gordon used to make videos about re cementing crowns, you know remove the decay, this is the best thing we could do. And people tried to throw him under a bridge, and I love that stuff. I like the man that knows that if you can't have a filet mignon, I'll make you a cheeseburger.
Gordon Craig: Exactly.
Howard Farran: And the other thing that's so emotionally insane about minis is the fact that man look at the variance of people. I mean just go to Costco and look at the little old lady hunched over to the big six foot nine guy that could dunk a basketball. The variance of people is so huge between size and age and bone density. You've got to find the implant that fits. I want to ask you another question though, I'm going back down to Australia, I'm lecturing in Sydney and Melbourne, I think July 28th Sydney and then the next day in Melbourne. Those people swear by one mini up the middle. They just think it's a hell of a lot better deal. And the Americans are all two.
Gordon Craig: Yeah.
Howard Farran: Do you see that? Have you noticed that?
Gordon Craig: Are you talking about in the palate?
Howard Farran: No on the lower.
Gordon Craig: Okay.
Howard Farran: On the lower.
Gordon Craig: I have not come into any clinician's face to face that provisioned that.
Howard Farran: Oh my God, I stayed up at a bar until one in the morning with this guy laying out on paper all the physics, the geometry, and the shifting and the bite and the eclusion, I mean this guy could've lectured for 40 hours and why one up the middle in the symphysis is better than creating a rotational deal with two. And my only thought was, being a dentist for 30 years, some of my biggest regrets on implants was, I put two implants in a three unit bridge. Then 20 years later, I'm chairside in her nursing home with Jan, and one of them implants failed, and I just thought to myself, you know if I would've put one implant for each tooth, and I had three implants in her two unit bridge, any one of them implants could've failed and it'd still be working.
And so I always think of spare tires. So my deal was, the reason I'd rather have two than one is because 10 years later dude, you might be at a nursing home with your little carrying kit of what you can do chairside in a nursing home. And so I like spare tires, because I have had patients in nursing homes where they lost one of those two and they're actually still pretty functional with just one in a canine position. I mean the human is a very adaptable animal.
Gordon Craig: Exactly, exactly. So I think that for all the things that we talked about today, certainly affordability is a big aspect of where dentistry needs to be and Sterngold has taken steps and will continue to take steps to make sure that that type of dentistry is accessible to everyone.
Howard Farran: Well, you could make my day if you promise to all my homies right now, that you'll put up some online CE courses so a dentist and the assistant and the receptionist can watch this. Because the receptionist answers 50 percent of all the questions in dentistry and then the hygienist. So you got to get the whole team to understand that there's a all on four is for anyone driving a Mercedes a Benz or a Rolls. But, I know, there's more Americans living in a barn in Kansas than living in a mansion. And I come from that born in a barn, seven kids in one big Catholic family.
By the way do you live in Rhode Island or do you live in Boston?
Gordon Craig: I live in Rhode Island.
Howard Farran: You live in Rhode Island. My two oldest sisters are Catholic nuns and did you know Rhode Island has the highest percentage of Catholics of all 50 states?
Gordon Craig: Yes, I do.
Howard Farran: Did you know that?
Gordon Craig: I did know that.
Howard Farran: Okay, so were you ever beat by a nun with a ruler?
Gordon Craig: I'm going to reserve comment on that. Don't look closely at my forehead I might have a scar.
Howard Farran: Was it my sister? But Gordon seriously, you think you can get us some online CE courses so we can teach these kids faster, easier, lower cost, more affordable overdentures.
Gordon Craig: Yeah you have my commitment to work with you and your team on that. We'll get some stuff over to you, okay?
Howard Farran: All right buddy, hey we went six minutes over time, thank you so much for coming on the show and talking to my homies today.
Gordon Craig: All right, take care Howard.