Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania
Julie Charlestein, Vice President, Business Development
QUESTION NO. 1
Inside Dentistry (ID): The dental industry and the oral healthcare arena have been changing rapidly within the past 5 to 10 years. What do you see as the most significant of those changes?
Julie Charlestein (JC): Looking at the industry specifically from a business standpoint, we have seen a great deal of consolidation in recent years. As a manufacturer that sells through distributors, we are faced with a shrinking customer base. Additionally, there has been increased involvement of traditionally consumer-based companies having more significant presence in the professional side of the market. In terms of oral care overall, there continues to be proof linking oral health to overall health, and the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene. At Premier we have a very strong hygiene focus, as is evidenced by our most recent product launches. Our industry’s attention to the access of care has also been significant.
QUESTION NO. 2
ID: In what ways—both internally and in dealing with the broader oral healthcare marketplace—has your company responded to these changes?
JC: Being in business for more than 90 years, Premier has seen the landscape change often, and has continued to thrive. The reason for this success in part is our ability to be proactive. To assess the needs of the market place, and the community, and deliver what they need. In addition to our core business, we are focused on the hygiene segment as well as “smart materials.” This strategy addresses the link between oral health and overall health, as well as access to care, by delivering innovative products with more efficacious results. Looking at specific products, our contribution to hygiene has been very strong with our remineralization platform: Premier’s ACP products, Enamel Pro® prophy paste, and Enamel Pro® varnish.
QUESTION NO. 3
ID: What do you see as your biggest responsibility to the marketplace, and why does your choice rank as your #1 priority?
JC: Our biggest responsibility to the market place is the same as to our company—to maintain our integrity, and continue to reinvent ourself in order to deliver technologies to make oral care better. Premier is a trusted leader in dentistry, and our brand is our greatest asset. By bringing innovation to the profession, we maintain our leadership position, and further our mission.
QUESTION NO. 4
ID: What product categories—whether preventive, restorative, operative, auxiliary, diagnostic, etc—do you feel are most in need of innovation based on what’s currently available?
JC: At Premier we have been focused on elevating hygiene and restorative. Our Enamel Loc pit and fissure sealant is a prime example—having been cited in SDM’s 1st Quarter 2007 “Key Findings” as tripling its sales from last quarter, and reaching over 11% market share. With respect to restorative, our Compcore AF products are the only core build-up materials with hyperbranched monomers allowing for both increased strength, and reduced shrinkage. Our Compcore AF is also the most radiopaque product on the market, and is offered in three different viscosities: Stack, Flow, and Twist.
QUESTION NO. 5
ID: What do you see as the best approach to the research, development, testing, and ultimate delivery to the market of such needed advancements?
JC: Premier has a very rigorous development process driven ultimately by consumer need, with regulatory guidance. Aside from our internal expertise, we rely on third party data. It is imperative that our technologies be proven in order to gain market acceptance. Premier’s products are evaluated by various institutions and professionals, resulting in the best possible product for the industry. Of course, the opinions of key influencers also play a vital role in further bolstering our innovations and messaging.
QUESTION NO. 6
ID: There are many challenges facing dentistry and oral healthcare today. How is your company helping to resolve them?
JC: Premier is committed to meeting the current needs as well as planning ahead for the future needs of the oral healthcare professional. We do this with our best resource—the tremendous team at Premier Dental. With our current focus on hygiene and smart materials, we foresee the increased role of the hygienist, as well as the need for materials to work harder and better. We work to bring novelty to the market place, and at the same time to fulfill our obligations as good corporate citizens. Premier is involved in many philanthropic efforts, Dental Volunteers for Israel among them, and recognizes the importance of serving the underserved.
QUESTION NO. 7
ID: Premier was once linked with ESPE Dental from Germany. What was that experience like from a corporate cultural point of view?
JC: Premier and ESPE had a very long and fruitful relationship. It actually began in the 1950s and grew into a joint venture—ESPE Premier and ESPE USA —that lasted for over 15 years. The partnership was a bolstering one for both companies. ESPE gained market share and insight, and Premier gained new technologies. As with any marriage, there were differences, primarily as you cite, cultural. The venture dissolved very amicably, and was a defining moment for Premier. We made the strategic decision to reinvent ourselves and pursue continued growth.
QUESTION NO. 8
ID: Premier seems to have a special knack for finding new products and bringing them to market in a very competitive environment. What drives the success of new product launches at Premier?
JC: We certainly pride ourselves on this, and continue to learn from both our successes and failures. I previously discussed our relationship with ESPE —both parties were looking for certain gains. We at Premier consider ourselves the “preferred partner,” a company that brings unique capabilities to the table. As such, we are able to source technologies and products. Even more importantly, we seek to build relationships and success for all involved. This is what drives the success of any given product—the commitment. Commitment to the technology, to the market, to our partners, and to ourselves.