“The status quo is good enough to a lot of business owners until it’s too late to change.”
Donald Park, Chief Operating Officer of CareCru
Donald Park started his career in the dental industry managing a dental lab with his godfather.
Since then he has run global operations at several companies such as Straumann, Biomet, DenMat and most recently atCareCru, an A.I.-powered practice solutions platform for dentists.
Donald joined FactoryFour’s CEO, Param Shah, for an interview highlighting his thoughts on the dental industry, and what manufacturers and labs need to do to compete and succeed.
Param Shah: You’ve worked on both ends of the industry, with large manufacturers like Straumann and now directly with dental practices through CareCru. Tell us what it’s been like working at multiple levels of the industry.
Donald Park: I’ve been very fortunate to have had roles with some great companies, always at the forefront of technology and services. Working with both small and large companies has always been a learning experience. I’ve been able to see several years into the future. When 3D printing was just beginning, I was tasked to incorporate the technology into a very large global organization. You have to be at the top of your game regardless of the size of the business. Whether you own the business or are part of the team, you are hired to be the best at what you do.
Param: What advancements in technology are you most excited about for the industry? What do you think are the most pressing challenges?
Donald: There are many exciting advancements in material and digital technologies. From new materials that allow for consistent and streamlined production of restorations to the wide range of affordable 3D printers and new resins. What has been lacking since the explosion in digital technology is interconnectivity. It’s only been in the last few years that CAD/CAM systems have opened up to allow files to move from system to system. With all of these moving parts and files, there is a lack of traceability and automation in the manufacturing processes. This is the next set of challenges that need to be solved.
Param: Having run operations at some of the largest dental manufacturers, what is something that you focused on to be successful that you don’t see others focusing on today?
Donald: I focused on continuous improvement (CI) strategies and developing new products and services. Most of my work involved digital workflows and improving the entire flow of information between clinician and production centers. At most levels, the focus around continuous improvement is lacking. The status quo is good enough to a lot of business owners until it’s too late to change. Make sure to constantly improve the way you do business and the way your team operates. Instilling this culture in yourself and your team will help nurture a healthy environment and build a great business.
“Do lab owners truly know what it costs for them to produce a zirconia crown vs a PFM crown or even a mouth guard?”
Param: You’ve mentioned to me that one of the most pressing needs of dental manufacturers and labs is to understand the true cost of producing a product. Could you speak to that?
Donald: Over the past few years, there has been a huge shift in product mix as well as an increase in the products that manufacturers and labs are producing. Without a team of cost accountants and production managers with the experience to understand standard costs, most businesses have a hard time with understanding what their true costs are down to the product level. For example, do lab owners truly know what it costs for them to produce a zirconia crown vs a PFM crown or even a mouth guard? Managers and owners must understand their costs in order to put plans in place to make improvements in the way they operate their business and to make business decisions on marketing their more profitable products.
Param: If you were to describe what dental manufacturers and labs need to do to get ahead of the competition today, what would it be?
Donald: The industry is becoming commoditized to a certain extent. Ensure that you can find your unique value proposition and market that to your customer base. It may be easier said than done, but even as a niche player, go after the broader market to increase your market share. Secondly, find ways to bring in talent you don’t have. Whether it be sales, marketing or other areas in which you are not the expert.
Param: What excites you about the FactoryFour product and its applications in the dental industry?
Donald: Production software, whether it be for large scale manufacturing or for dental laboratories, has limitations and is in some cases very difficult to set up and use. FactoryFour simplifies and adds a tremendous amount of additional functionality and workflows that are not available to production facilities of all sizes. In the past, the only way to achieve this is to custom build these solutions at a cost that is out of reach for most businesses.
Param: What closing advice would you give to a dental manufacturer or lab who wants to scale their growth?
Donald: We don’t know, what we don’t know. It is essential to reach out to experts who can help you to continue to improve your business, not only with production techniques but business knowledge. The industry and business is constantly changing and without changing the way you run your business, you will be left behind. There are so many great groups to join and get new ideas and knowledge that will help. In the dental industry, there are many people who are willing to share knowledge and help each other. That’s what I love about the dental industry.
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