Culp speaks out on DTI move

March 21, 2012

Lee Culp’s move to join Dental Technologies Inc. (DTI) as Chief Technology Officer is one more step Culp sees to further support a dental technology industry that is rapidly evolving. Owned by Healthpoint Capital, DTI is a network of 17 North American laboratories, including its flagship laboratory, Microdental in Dublin, Calif. DLP talked to Culp on his first day on the job about his decision to join DTI and how he envisions his role there. DLP: What do you want the industry to understand about your most recent move to DTI?

Lee Culp’s move to join Dental Technologies Inc. (DTI) as Chief Technology Officer is one more step Culp sees to further support a dental technology industry that is rapidly evolving. Owned by Healthpoint Capital, DTI is a network of 17 North American laboratories, including its flagship laboratory, Microdental in Dublin, Calif. DLP talked to Culp on his first day on the job about his decision to join DTI and how he envisions his role there.

DLP: What do you want the industry to understand about your most recent move to DTI?

Culp: Most important is that I’m not abandoning all the relationships built over the years, nor my commitment to education, nor my consulting work which have been the foundation of my business life. I’ll still be teaching and lecturing, still working with dental manufacturing companies in research and product development. I’ve spent too many hard years building these pillars to say goodbye. DTI was terrific about structuring our agreement so that I can continue to be intimately involved in the industry.

DLP: Why make this move then?

Culp: When Microdental first approached me several months ago looking for a Technical Director, I very politely turned them down. But as we continued to talk and delved deeper into discussions, it was clear that Healthpoint Capital was now ready to put much more focus and investment into the laboratory side of their holdings. If that meant that they were moving forward and committed to taking their manufacturing to a digital platform, then I told them I would be interested in helping with that effort. I met with John Foster, Chairman of the Board of Healthpoint Capital, and DTI’s CEO Kim Bradshaw, a former VP from the medical devices side of their business holdings, and we carved out the position of Chief Technology Officer.

DLP: How do you see your role evolving at DTI and how do you see it furthering dental technology?

Culp: Well, this is just my first day in my new office, but I have been thinking about the future of the industry, what that will look like, and what needs the smaller laboratories will have as the industry evolves. There is no question our industry is shrinking. All of the talk of consolidation, polarization, and the aging of the industry is actually happening now, and it’s affecting the number of laboratories still in operation. That said, it’s important to understand that the four largest laboratories in the U.S. control only 6% to 7% of the total laboratory business; the remaining 93% to 94% of the business is still controlled by the small laboratories. I think we’re going to see larger laboratories reaching out to form partnerships with the smaller laboratories, providing them with a wide range of services that they just don’t have access to as standalone businesses. By doing so, the larger laboratories are not directly competing for marketshare but working together with them as partners. The smaller labs already have the relationships, they are the storefront for their clients, and this is the value they hold. If we can’t figure out a way to work together and for each other in the next five years, then we will lose far more than the 2,000 laboratories we lost this year. DTI will be committed to finding paths to work with and for smaller businesses.

DLP: What are your first steps as DTI’s Chief Technology Officer?

Culp: We’ve just become a Beta testing site for D4D Technologies, adding to DTI’s strong relationship with other manufacturing partners. My goal is to take the company strongly digital over the next year. We will even be looking at technologies not directly associated yet with the laboratory industry. I would like to see us partnering with other dental manufacturers and laboratories invested in technology and with those not yet invested to keep us all successful in business.