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Dental Products Report sat down with Implant Direct President Tom Stratton to discuss the company’s offerings, emerging products and plans for the future.
DPR:Give our readers a brief history of Implant Direct.
Tom Stratton: The foundation of Implant Direct was started in 1982 when Core-Vent Bio-Engineering was formed. Core-Vent later became Paragon Dental Implant Company. In 2004, Implant Direct LLC was formed and, in 2010, Danaher, the parent company of the KaVo Kerr Group, acquired 75 percent interest in the company. We are built from a history of innovation, which includes the creation of the internal hex connection that is the cornerstone of the modern implant design. It was the first internal connection with a lead-in (or conical) bevel and was widely licensed to other implant manufacturers, including Straumann (for its internal octagon).
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DPR:What was the focus of Implant Direct when it was introduced into the dental community?
Tom Stratton: Implant Direct created the value segment in implant dentistry by introducing USA-made compatible products with enhanced features in a groundbreaking All-in-1 Packaging vial at a quality and price that truly rivaled the premium-priced implant companies. To accomplish this, and continue to revolutionize the implant industry, Implant Direct invests in sophisticated manufacturing technology to produce products of exceptional quality while achieving cost efficiencies we can pass directly on to the dental practice. This is not something that any other major implant companies are able to offer at this time. Instead, some are looking to cut costs by outsourcing their manufacturing to low-cost regions.
Related reading: Q&A: Dr. Joseph Gian-Grasso on trends and advances in dental implants
DPR: How is Implant Direct dealing with the growth of general practitioners placing more implants?
Tom Stratton: The general practitioner has been critical to the future of implant dentistry for decades; especially in non-referral countries that have limited surgical specialist bases. It’s important to allow general dentists to effectively deliver the type of procedures that they are trained to provide. At Implant Direct, we believe strongly in our obligation to serve the dental community. In our leadership role with the innovation of new products, education and customer support platforms, our focus is to give dentists-no matter their specialty-a reason to rank the surgical placement of dental implants as the No. 1 growth procedure in their practice.
We do this through our portfolio of Simply Smarter products and significant investments in education through our ID University, which includes the Las Vegas training center, as well as satellite locations throughout the world. Our recent introduction of the ID Education Passport, which offers two years of unlimited dental implant education, truly trains dentists to deliver safe and predictable implant dentistry to their patients. This mission has made implant dentistry accessible to more patients, not just by helping to make treatment more affordable, but by also helping the general practitioner to develop his/her implantology skills. The range of expertise may vary, but it certainly begins with the ability to diagnose, treatment plan and educate the patient in the chair.
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DPR:How has Implant Direct’s success changed the landscape of implant dentistry?
Tom Stratton: It’s incredible to see the changes that have taken place since the introduction of Implant Direct. Premium-priced implant companies first reacted by spreading false and misleading rumors about the quality of our products, then these same companies were forced to negotiate discount prices in an attempt to recapture lost customers, have started to buy/invest in discount implant companies and now even tried to clone our All-in-1 Packaging. While competitors may attempt one-off imitations, they struggle to replicate the complete simplified experience that Implant Direct has created. We have executed our strategy, one that is now being cloned by many of the premium-priced implant companies, by holding to our foundation of delivering true value to our customers–and their patients. Time will tell if others will be successful in executing their strategies.
Editor's Note: Learn more about Implant Direct in our exclusive interview with Stratton below...
Continue to page two to read more...
DPR: Tell us about your Swish line of dental implants and why you are focused on Straumann.
Tom Stratton: With our Swish Implant System, we are bringing a compatible solution with our unique brand of simplicity to a market segment that has been asked to believe in a convoluted product portfolio and corporate message. Some of the product enhancements in the Swish System are surgical simplicity and greater precision in prosthetic placement at the bone level. Unlike Straumann, we have remained consistent with our corporate message. For years, Straumann touted the importance of product research through the ITI Foundation, yet now is investing in discount dental companies like Neodent and MegaGen without that same clinical evidence criterion.
Even while making such investments, Straumann has continued to publicly criticize lower-priced implants and some doctors that buy them, as stated by Straumann CEO Marco Gadola in a press release on March 31, 2014, that, “some dentists are willing to pay for lower standards than those offered by premium brands.” This message coincided with a letter from Gino DeSimone, senior vice president, dental division, Straumann North America, to its customer base that, “Neodent is not Straumann.” In addition to pursuing this two-tiered price strategy,
Straumann is also attempting to capitalize on the growing general practitioner-placing-implants market, albeit without training, selling or supporting them directly. This can be seen in its recently announced bundled implant packaging (a clone of our original All-in-1 Packaging concept) to be sold through a distribution partner. Implant Direct’s position is that dentists don’t want education or sales activities in the closet, but, rather, they wish to partner directly with implant manufacturers. This is a stark contrast to Implant Direct’s DIRECT to ALL dentists model.
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DPR: How do you believe the surgical specialist, in particular, and the overall dental community perceives Implant Direct?
Tom Stratton: Many doctors in the surgical specialist community have embraced our products. They appreciate our honesty, history of innovation, current product designs, breadth of product offerings, support and the overall value we deliver. They recognize our fundamental belief in the referral model when a general practitioner is ready to refer a patient to them. In the case of implant dentistry, this is still often. The overall dental community has shown us they believe we offer superior products, service, support and education by making us the fastest-growing major dental implant manufacturer. We have also seen this through third-party surveys of dentists that rate us at the top of the categories that mean the most to dentists. They choose us because we deliver on our promise to provide the best products at the best value. We created this segment, and no matter what the premium-priced companies clone from us, it will not deliver like the original…Implant Direct.
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DPR:What does the future hold for Implant Direct?
Tom Stratton: We will continue to push the envelope on our technological research to enhance our manufacturing processes to deliver the highest-quality products for the greatest value. We are actively gathering clinical input about the surgical and restorative challenges implant clinicians face and then designing creative solutions to overcome each of these challenges. Our robust customer support platform will continue to evolve and include expanded support through mobile applications and the global expansion of our ID Education Passport program.