Legacy Labs: Renstrom Dental Studio

March 21, 2012

Working in a cramped space in a dentist’s office no larger than a closet is how Robert Renstrom got his start in the dental industry. That job gave him the experience needed to start Renstrom Dental Studio Inc., which is still going strong and is now owned by his sons, Randy and Rick Renstrom.

Working in a cramped space in a dentist’s office no larger than a closet is how Robert Renstrom got his start in the dental industry. That job gave him the experience needed to start Renstrom Dental Studio Inc., which is still going strong and is now owned by his sons, Randy and Rick Renstrom.

The company is located in Vadnais Heights, Minn., which is just outside St. Paul. It was founded in 1966 and now employs a staff of 25.

Robert Renstrom finished a stint in the U.S. Navy before getting the job with a dentist that gave him the experience to eventually start his own lab.

“He learned on the job,” Rick Renstrom said. “Back then there was not a lot of outside training like there is today.”

His sons bought the company in the mid-1980s – a move that the Renstrom brothers were ready to make.

“I started working in the lab right out of college because I loved working with my hands,” Rick Renstrom said. 

Today, Rick Renstrom, vice president, handles quality control. He checks every case that goes out the door to be sure it meets their standards.

“I don’t want to be a mass production lab,” he said. “We’re always concerned about the quality of our restorations. We produce and inspect our work under microscopes. Our tolerances are very tight.”

Not only is quality important to the lab, so is communicating with clients, he said. 

“We have many ways to communicate with them including report cards and a personal service representative who contacts them every month,” he said. “We track trends and make changes as we go. Quality is No.1, but service is a very close second.”

Randy Renstrom serves as president and is in charge of the business aspects of running the lab, including trying to predict what new trends and technology are coming down the pike. His daughter, Randi James, works in the lab as the office manager and his wife, Kathy, is the lab administrator.

“I enjoy the digital technology that is coming out,” Randy Renstrom said. “It’s the first major change in the industry in years.”

The lab recently underwent a renovation and added several computer stations. Randy Renstrom said the lab underwent the renovation because it wanted to be prepared for the next 10 years and because their manufacturing processes are different now than in the past.

 “It’s opened us up to new products,” he said. “We can do things that we couldn’t do five or 10 years ago.”

“While we still feel hand-layered porcelain gives us the best esthetic effect, we use computers to design stronger understructures of materials such as zirconium and lithium disilicate,” he added.

The lab has a dentist on staff whose main focus is to work with clients and answer questions.

“He does a lot of trouble shooting,” Rick Renstrom said. “If a client is having trouble, we can figure it out together and solve the problem.  He also does a lot of training of both our technicians and clients.”

Randy Renstrom said the dentist is helpful because “materials, as well as manufacturing processes, are changing. We employ a dentist to help educate our clients on the new changes and the best ways to work them into their practices.”

The lab frequently holds seminars for dentists and their staffs that touch on a wide range of topics, from new products to how to manage a dental practice more efficiently.

“We are dedicated to being more than just a lab manufacturing a product,” Randy Renstrom said. “We are here to help our clients practice better restorative dentistry.”

Both Renstrom brothers said anyone wanting to get into the field today needs to be knowledgeable about computers. Whatever changes may come, they agree that their focus on maintaining quality and service is what makes their lab stand out.

“I’m more inclined to provide higher quality even if the price has to be slightly higher because I feel good about what we do,” Rick Renstrom said.