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    Legacy Laboratories: Sikes Dental Studios

    Four generations of the Sikes family have been a part of this Charlotte, N.C. lab.

    A commitment to providing quality esthetic dentistry and staying ahead of new technology—along with a shared middle name—have been passed down from one generation to the next at Sikes Dental Studios in Charlotte, N.C.

    Four generations have been or are currently employed at the company that was founded by Adam Lee Sikes, who got his start in the industry when he worked for a couple of dental labs before launching his own business in 1944.

    Adam was joined by his son, Raymond Lee Sikes, who purchased the lab in the late 1960s. Raymond’s son, Lindy, whose middle name is Lee, came into the business in the 1970s, and he continues to own and operate it. He is now working with his son, Shelton Lee, the newest Sikes to become part of the company.

    “In the early days it was a small operation,” said Lindy. “They (Adam and Raymond) worked side-by-side. It was a 3- to 4-person operation.”

    Like many who have grown up in a family business, Lindy had decided he was not headed toward a career in the dental lab industry. Instead, he tried other things, working for a time in sales and service in the boating industry. He returned to the lab business in the mid-1970s and, much to his surprise, discovered it was in his blood.

    “When I got back into it, it was like falling in love,” he said. “Because I knew where I wanted to set my direction.”

    He purchased the company in the late 1970s and has worked to continue the reputation for quality esthetics started by his father and grandfather. The studio takes pride in working with the some of the country’s premier cosmetic dentists.

    Sikes Dental Studios also strives to be at the forefront of new technology. The studio is a Beta center for Sirona, and works on new product development initiatives for the CAD/CAM and dental technology company.

    When the CEREC AC Bluecam was developed, Sikes Dental Studios had a chairside unit in the laboratory months prior to its introduction to the rest of the dental community.

    “It’s kind of cool because I see the stuff that nobody else gets to see,” Lindy Sikes said.

    As a past president of the National Association of Dental Laboratories, the Southeast Conference of Dental Labs, and the North Carolina Dental Laboratory Association, Lindy Sikes has his finger on the pulse of the industry, and he enjoys being part of promoting it.

    “This industry is made up of phenomenal people,” he said. “They all have this love for a craft. And you won’t find a more caring group.”

    He said being involved in industry associations enables the exchange of information and helps lab operators to be ready for important changes, such as digital technology, that are coming and which he expects to change the way labs operate.

    “We’ve already got the digital lab up and running,” he said. “Daily there are more and more digital impressions coming in.”

    Digital technology will enable labs to serve dentists even quicker, and possibly expand their client bases.

    “With the new digital technology we’re already working with doctors in 12 states and Canada,” Lindy Sikes said. “We can receive a file digitally and turn a case around in three to four days.”

    He sees digital as having the potential to revolutionize the industry.

    “In my career, the two most dramatic changes were the pressable ceramics that made better esthetics possible, and that was 30 years ago,” he said. “The second biggest thing is going to be the digital revolution.”

    As thrilling as the future promises to be, his son, Shelton, said he also appreciates the older ways of doing things and believes they are important. Both Shelton and Lindy are certified dental technicians.

    “This industry is rapidly changing,” Shelton Sikes said. “But it’s not all mechanized. It still involves techniques that my grandfather used.”

    He said that those older techniques used by generations before appeal to him because he enjoys working with his hands.

    “You still have to have the talent and the touch because everybody’s smile is different.”