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Just what should the dental industry expect now that news of Cantel Medical Corp.’s acquisition of Hu-Friedy became official last month?
Chicago-based Hu-Friedy, a longtime leader in dental instrument manufacturing and infection prevention solutions, is combining with Cantel's existing Crosstex business, a recognized leader for its portfolio of infection prevention products including Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), single-use disposable products, dental unit waterline treatments and nitrous-oxide equipment.
Ken Serota, President of the newly formed Cantel Dental division, which includes Hu-Friedy and Crosstex, talked to Dental Products Report about what dental professionals should expect from the integration of two companies known for delivering quality dental products, and about how the combination of such offerings can help practices cover all of the bases for infection prevention, control and compliance.
“The combination is exciting,” says Serota, who previously held positions of President, Executive Vice President and CFO for Hu-Friedy before the acquisition became official last month. “Hu-Friedy is very good at innovation, continuing to launch new products, and bringing creative extensions to products that may already exist in the market, making them just a little bit better.
“We intend to bring that expertise to the Crosstex family of products. Our combined team is already at work to enhance innovation across the entire platform. We plan to significantly increase the research and development efforts and new product offerings that you’ll see coming out of Crosstex. The marketplace can look forward to that.”
Hu-Friedy has long been known as a manufacturer of the highest quality dental instruments, having been in that business for more than a century, but has also been at the forefront of infection prevention, education and safety. The company’s Instrument Management System (IMS®) is designed to keep instruments organized and intact from cleaning to chairside. It saves a dental facility time and money by reducing the need for instrument scrubbing and sorting, protecting against breakage, and reducing the risk of injury, to name a few.
Infection Control Portal
Last fall the company announced the release of the GreenLight Dental Compliance Center® by Hu-Friedy, a resource to help dental professionals stay on top of infection prevention guidelines and regulations in order to maintain compliance. Serota believes that supporting the dental profession with this compliance effort is critical, and now with the Crosstex family of products on board, Cantel Dental can provide everything needed for dental practices in terms of quality infection control products, techniques and compliance standards.
“The glue between the two companies has been our focus on the instrument management system, which is a combination of instruments in cassettes coupled with a high level of consumables such as enzymatic detergents, sterilization wraps, and sterilization monitoring products,” Serota explains. “We had started to introduce additional infection prevention products, such as surface disinfectants and, prior to the merger, our new product development wish list pretty much covered every product that Crosstex was offering.
“Then the synergistic piece, the piece that both companies found very attractive, was our commitment to educating the dental professional on infection prevention protocols through many programs including sterilization observations, and now GreenLight, which we launched a little over a year ago. It’s a single, convenient online portal that contains the information and tools that a dental practice needs to develop and maintain a state-of-the-art infection prevention program.”
Cantel reached out to Hu-Friedy about a year ago, Serota says, and the two companies realized that a coming together could be great for them as well as dental professionals. Cantel was looking to expand its presence in dental, and they already had a strong portfolio of products in Crosstex, but they saw an opportunity to expand that brand in a big way in dentistry by acquiring a company like Hu-Friedy.
“So, we started to get to know each other-the cultures, the fit and the products-and we collectively came up with a strategy for how a business might look combined,” Serota says. “It really met all of our strategic objectives and plans for expanding Hu-Friedy. The combination accelerated our ability to bring a full suite of infection prevention products to the dental community and complement the performance instruments that we’ve already been putting into the marketplace for over a hundred years.”
With Crosstex already quite invested and involved in solutions for waterline treatments, saliva ejectors, and nitrous oxide sedation, as well as a variety of single-use disposables, the acquisition now means these companies can provide a full protection package.
“The Complete Circle of Protection is a calling card for Cantel across all of their brands, including medical, but in dental the addition of the Hu-Friedy products really expands the circle,” Serota says. “We can now provide the full loop-chairside management, workflow efficiency, and infection prevention and control solutions to the practice.”
Serota and Hu-Friedy are excited to have the Crosstex products leverage the benefits and significant investment of GreenLight, and hope to provide access to the tool for as many dental practices as possible.
“We had already been doing several infection prevention programs, including sterilization observations and instrument audits, but GreenLight was a major undertaking for us, particularly with getting all relevant compliance information in one single-source digital location,” he says. “The information that is in GreenLight is very applicable to the Crosstex set of products as well. So being able to not only deliver the compliance resources but to deliver all of the required products that are set forth in GreenLight will be a major positive benefit for the dental community.”
He’s confident the compliance program will continue to have a strong impact on clinicians. Now that the companies are in the integration process, “a light bulb has gone on and we see some great opportunities for our next generation of GreenLight which we are busily working on,” Serota states. Hu-Friedy has experienced a lot of success with the adoption of GreenLight, and group practices, dental service organizations (DSOs), and the individual offices find it a very useful tool, according to Serota.
Access to information
Speaking of information and education, Hu-Friedy has made it a big point in recent years to use digital platforms like social media to help educate the dental community. Expect to see some of these same successful methods used to further promote the benefits of the Crosstex line of products.
“I think another piece that will better the dental community is access to information,” Serota says. “We’ve invested a lot over the years to increase our presence on digital platforms. Social media is such an effective method to deliver information quickly and interactively. To incorporate the messaging, which has been great from the Crosstex family of products, into our digital infrastructure helps the flow of information on things like infection prevention and how the combination will benefit the marketplace significantly.”
“Our ability to deliver our message, digitally, in print and one-on-one in person has been ramped up exponentially through the combination,” he adds.
Hu-Friedy has several resources available online including those that address GreenLight, the risk of sharps injury reduction brought about by using the IMS solution, and case studies highlighting the benefits and features of its products. Additionally, information on Crosstex products and educational resources can be found at https://www.crosstex.com/industry-dental
“In an abbreviated kind of way, we call the merger, ‘S.W.E. plus I, P, and C.’ Safety, Workflow, and Efficiency, plus Infection Prevention and Control,” Serota says in summarizing the new partnerships. “I think it’s really important that the combination sets up the industry for a one stop shop for education materials as well as the products necessary for full compliance and performance within the dental practice.”