Exclusive interview with VOCO's Leif Ebert

March 21, 2012

In the January 2012 issue of Dental Products Report, VOCO America President Leif Ebert was profiled in the 10 Questions article. Here is the complete version of Ebert's interview with DPR Executive Editor Stan Goff.  

In the January 2012 issue of Dental Products Report, VOCO America President Leif Ebert was profiled in the 10 Questions article. Here is the complete version of Ebert's interview with DPR Executive Editor Stan Goff. 

DPR:  What is your role with VOCO and how does your background ensure that the company delivers what doctors need?

I am 40 years young, married and the proud dad of our two daughters. After I obtained my MBA, I joined a consulting company in Hamburg, Germany. We helped start-up companies figure out their finances and we wrote business plans that helped them receive money from state, federal or European funds. In 1997, I joined VOCO’s marketing department as a product manager and two years later I became director of international marketing. At that time VOCO was already active in more than 100 countries, but had not yet entered the U.S. marketplace. When the company made plans to change this, I was eager for them to give me the opportunity. There was some initial hesitation in the beginning to give such a responsibility to a young guy like me, but they did it and I am sure they are happy today having made this move. In Germany I grew up next to an American Army base and had a lot of American friends. As a teenager I was familiar with the American culture and lifestyle, which helped me to adapt our company strategies to the needs of our U.S. customers.  I moved to New York City and finally could apply to our own start-up company the advices that I used to give to others as a consultant.

As the President of VOCO America and VOCO Canada I oversee all fields of our operation and supervise our 75 employees in North America. Since my day-to-day routine consists of lots of paperwork and working with lawyers, accountants, insurance companies, etc., it is easy to lose touch with the customers. To battle this, you will find me from time to time at trade shows and visiting local dentists. I try to do what our sales consultants do to understand the needs of our customers.

DPR: You call yourselves “The Dentalists.” What does it mean?

Our new slogan, “The Dentalists” expresses VOCO’s exclusive specialization in dentistry. As dental material specialists, we concentrate only on this field of activity and maintain close cooperation with dentists and more than 150 universities and research establishments across the globe.

The slogan “The Dentalists” is a commitment to all of our employees. Intensive product training of our dental consultants is key and an ongoing process. Our representatives act like consultants to the clinicians rather than sales people. We are providing solutions to clinical problems. Our consultants understand the needs of clinicians and dentistry in whole. We do not have a problem recommending another company’s product if it helps to solve a clinical problem.

DPR: What sets VOCO apart from other materials manufacturers in the industry?

Privately owned VOCO GmbH Dental Materials, a worldwide active developer and manufacturer of advanced dental materials, is in its 31st year of service to dentists and dental technicians. What began in 1981 with a handful of products and a very small staff, has developed into a worldwide active operation of approximately 500 employees and more than 150 different dental materials; 60 of them are currently marketed in the U.S. We limited the number of products for the U.S. market in order to introduce only products that are better or different from currently available products.

Unlike like many other major companies VOCO is proud to develop and manufacture all of its chemistry-based production its own.

At VOCO we are using state-of-the-art technology. There are a lot of developments that make it easier to manufacture products or give us new opportunities to increase product quality. Most of our manufacturing is totally automated, which allows us to manufacture on demand. That means we can start manufacturing the same day that we receive an order from our distribution partner. This ensures that our customers receive the freshest product possible. On the other hand, new developments like nano technology allowed us to achieve a product quality that had never been possible before. The first nano hybrid, Grandio, was developed based on this technology. It allowed us to increase the filler degree from 77 percent to 87 percent, which gave the composite a much higher wear resistance and reduced the shrinkage by up to 50 percent. Grandio was the first material of its kind and we are proud that it has been copied by other manufacturers. For VOCO, it is important to stay on top of new developments at all times in order to keep our competitive advantage.

We have the advantage that we are privately owned and can do what is right for our customers and our business. We do not have to act for short-term success in order to make shareholders happy. Our strategy is very simple: listen to the customers and give them products that meet or exceed their expectations.

DPR: The launch of GrandioSO in 2011 was a big success. Are you surprised at how well the product was received and what do you think are the reasons for the success?

We are not really surprised by the success, but rather happy that our customers indeed like the material. We have been very successful with the first Grandio composite and by keeping a close contact to our customers we knew that they liked the handling and wear characteristics and they suggested improvements in polishability and light sensitivity. With GrandiSO we simply gave them what they asked for. Theoretically it is not rocket science. Ask your customers what they need and provide it and you will have a winner. I am just glad that we at VOCO have the chemists who are able to provide winning products.

DPR: How does VOCO help dentists looking to learn more about your latest products?

Sorry, Stan but at VOCO we believe that our customers can only learn so much from the print or electronic media. Of course magazines like yours are very important for dentists to see what is new on the market, but we at VOCO believe that our customers have to see and feel the materials in person. Therefore we are committed to the high expense of well educated dental consultants. In North America we have more than 60 representatives and plan to expand the number in the next years. We recommend inviting our representatives to the offices or seeing us at trade shows. VOCO is also very committed to continuing education. We sponsor many hands-on courses and seminars and have our own educational website. At vocolearning.com every month we offer free CE live webinars and many archived CE courses on demand. 

DPR: This past year was a big one for VOCO. What can we expect to see in 2012?

First of all I would like to thank our customers for their support. We know that they have many choices of great dental products and we are thankful that they choose VOCO. We are committed not to only hold our high standard but furthermore to improve for our customers. For 2012 we are introducing with x-tra base a new flowable bulk filling composite that allows to cure 4mm layers in 10 seconds. Additionally we have the new core build-up composite GrandioCORE DC, which is based on VOCO’s successfully proven advanced nano-hybrid technology. Our first step into Implant Dentistry comes with our new Quick Up Implant Pick up material that cuts procedure time in half and avoids accidental locking of dentures with the implant parts.