Interview: “We are seeking to make inroads in markets that we have underserved for the last several years”
Being one of the oldest dental bur manufacturers worldwide, US company SS White has aimed to strengthen and grow its global footprint at this year’s International Dental Show (IDS) in Cologne in Germany. Dental Tribune Online sat down with Michael Schwartz and Michael Schilk, International Director of Sales and Head of Sales at the company’s US endodontics division, respectively, to speak about brand reputation, global dealer expansion and the company’s long-term approach to business.
What is your goal here at IDS?
Michael Schwartz: To stay focused on our global dealer expansion initiative, which means we are concentrating on Tier 1 dealers. Aiming to dramatically grow our business over the next three to five years, we are first concentrating on markets where we have gaps in coverage and re-evaluating constant territories. We are a market leader in North America and we are seeking to expand that brand recognition worldwide.
We have markets where we are particularly strong, like the Middle East, China and more specifically Japan and South Korea. We are looking to strategise our leading brand technology in the markets we are more focused on now.
Michael Schilk: My role, similar to Michael’s as he is growing the international footprint, is laying the groundwork for the launch of our endodontic line, our V-Taper system. We have received a great deal of feedback from customers, not just at IDS, but around the world, regarding the need for more endodontic products and specialised minimally invasive procedures.
At SS White, we feel that we have been at the forefront of that technology, and because we have that technology, we want to provide it to the customers who want it—to produce better outcomes and preserve the longevity of people’s teeth. We have some unique technology within our diamond instruments and our burs that we feel separates us from the rest of the market, so it is an expansion on restorative and general dentistry, as well as specialised endodontics.
Which regional markets are you targeting specifically?
Schwartz: We are targeting western Europe. Currently, Germany is our primary focus and then we are planning to expand from there to other countries in Europe. Presently, we sell products to over 55 countries and we manufacture in the US and Italy. We are helping promote the brand globally and we are seeking to make inroads in markets that we have underserved for the last several years.
How do you intend to accomplish that?
Schwartz: We have hired consultants located around the world to help us identify premium aligned dealers. We care about the long-term approach to business. We are not interested in the immediate dollar sale. We are focused on educating both the dental community and our customer base on better technology for improved patient outcomes.
Do you feel that the western European market is receptive to your portfolio?
Schwartz: We have a compelling story: we are the oldest bur manufacturer in the world. We feel that we have technology that differentiates us from the rest of the competitors and we have global manufacturing—that sets us apart from our competitors, and it is our job to communicate that message to the dental community.
We have some unique technology within our diamond instruments and our burs that we feel separates us from the rest of the market, ...
Would you also like to strengthen your presence in the Asia-Pacific region?
We are currently hiring a regional sales manager in Japan. We have had sales in Japan for more than 50 years, we have a recognisable brand and we are looking to grow that business, not only in Japan and in South Korea, but in the Pacific Rim region as a whole. We are going to be participating in more exhibitions and become active on the ground, running more promotions to build our brand in the region.
What are your impressions now, three days into IDS?
Schwartz:The feedback so far has been excellent. Our brand is known worldwide as a premium brand, and it is nice to see over and over again that people we have not had contact with before are eager to speak with us and acknowledge SS White as one of the most recognisable brands in the market. Our ability to move opportunities forward has been fast-tracked because of our brand reputation. I would say that, right now, we are even ahead of our plan for our dealer expansion.
Schilk: When I came here, I knew that it was probably the largest dental convention in the world. When one walks the halls, one notices that innovation is everywhere. This convention speaks to innovation. We have been coming here forever, and with our innovative philosophy and products, it is a nice fit. In addition, we have received feedback and validation from global customers who have come to our booth and that tells us that our strategy to build a bigger footprint globally and to provide the support to key opinion leaders to achieve better outcomes has been successful. We are really looking forward to not just the remainder of IDS, but our continued attendance here in the future.
Thank you very much for the interview.