Legacy Labs: Heritage Dental Laboratory

March 21, 2012
Issue 9

Bill McCormick, CDT, owner and manager of Heritage Dental Laboratory, was on a path that would have taken him to law school when he happened to see a dental lab project that his brother-in-law, who was attending dental school, was working on. Seeing that project entirely changed McCormick’s career path.

Bill McCormick, CDT, owner and manager of Heritage Dental Laboratory, was on a path that would have taken him to law school when he happened to see a dental lab project that his brother-in-law, who was attending dental school, was working on. Seeing that project entirely changed McCormick’s career path.

“I decided I’d rather work with my hands and be creative,” said McCormick who launched his career by attending a dental tech program offered then through the Illinois Dental Laboratory Association. It was the 1960s and the federal government was helping fund educational programs to fill a need for dental lab technicians.

After completing the program, McCormick did a stint in the U.S. Army where he was made a non-commissioned officer and taught dental technology to other military personnel. The connections he made were helpful when he started his own lab, now located in Arlington Heights, IL in 1972. Former army officers who became dentists in private practice sent their lab work to him.

Today, Heritage has grown to have a staff of 18. McCormick said his lab has thrived despite challenges in the industry as a whole by putting an emphasis on providing quality products and services, superior aesthetics, continuing education and good business practices.

“The dental laboratory industry has matured,” he said. “But we’ve faced numerous challenges a long the way like outsourcing, adapting CAD/Cam, the economy, and the diminishing coverage provided by dental insurance.”

McCormick and his employees have weathered storms though the commitment to further   their knowledge and expertise by taking continuing education classes at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, The Dawson Center for Advanced Dental Studies, and The Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education.

The lab serves customers from throughout the U.S. and from such countries as Australia, Guam and Puerto Rico. Because of a relationship that McCormick has with a dentist in California, the company frequently does work for celebrities in the entertainment and media fields.

“A lot of notable people in the entertainment and media fields have our crowns in their mouths because we turn out a reliable product and provide the ultimate in aesthetics and personal communication,” McCormick said.

Though celebrities’ smiles are improved by the lab’s work, McCormick said technicians rarely, if ever, get acknowledged for their work.

“Dental technicians are the unsung heroes,” he said.

Though McCormick got into the industry because he liked the creative aspect of it, he also enjoys the business side. Through years of practice and continuing education, he has acquired the expertise to partner with dentists and help guide them in their work.

“I love being a teacher to the dentists to show them how to take impressions and deliver restorations,” he said.

Building the lab’s business is an on-going task that McCormick also enjoys. He said the book “Stop Selling, Start Partnering: The New Thinking About Finding and Keeping Customers,” by Larry Wilson helped him realize that building relationships is a more effective way to build a business. He has a strong relationship with the practice management firm, Blatchford Solutions.

“The practice manager will say to a dentist, ‘Hey. Work with Heritage. They’ll make you look good with your patients and create superior cosmetic restorations.’”

Having that endorsement leads to new clients and to repeat business.

“You get a nod of approval from a good company and it doesn’t cost you anything,” McCormick said. 

McCormick’s family is greatly involved in the dental industry including some of his children, nieces, nephews and brother-in-laws who are either dentists, dental specialists, hygienists and laboratory owners. 

Though it’s easy to imagine dental talk filling Thanksgiving dinners, McCormick said they try to put a limit on that. He also has no regrets that he didn’t go to law school. Heading a dental lab turned out to be the better career for him and brings a feeling of satisfaction when he sees his work –even if others don’t know it is his.

“Hopefully, some day we’ll be the sung heroes,” he said.