An Interview with Ultradent Products, Inc.
Dan Fischer, DDS
Founder and President, Ultradent Products, Inc.
INSIDE DENTISTRY (ID): What has been your most innovative product to date?
Dan Fischer (DF): The product that has made the greatest impact on the company is Opalescence® PF with the soft, thin scalloped tray. However, the products that bring the greatest impact to the quality of operative dentistry are the hemostatics—ViscoStat®, Metal Dento-Infusor® Tip, and the like. Once dentists learn to use them correctly, they can improve every procedure they do. There’s nothing that one can do in an adequate way in the presence of bleeding.
ID: What is the role of quality in the Ultradent philosophy?
DF: We believe not only in quality of products, but in quality of workplace or quality of work environment—with an emphasis on happiness. We believe that it’s difficult to develop quality products if there’s not a quality culture and quality of life. We have a saying in R&D that creativity flourishes in a playful environment. Obviously, R&D can’t operate in the same way as manufacturing, where we have strict guidelines and a system that we must follow. But nevertheless, a quality workplace and quality products are so extremely important, and they’re intertwined.
ID: How does Ultradent determine what products it is going to manufacture and market?
DF: The products that Ultradent makes and sells come about in more than one way. Probably the more orthodox way would be through marketing—to identify the needs of the marketplace and to create that product, or to identify needs and changes to existing products. But there’s also an important phenomenon in R&D that we call “blue sky.” That is where our R&D people have an opportunity within our sandbox to create, develop, and see where things go. Then, if it looks like something is going to be viable, it is run by marketing—and it requires their buy-in, ultimately.
ID: Is there a recent product that you can think of that was developed the “blue sky” way?
DF: I would say that VALO® is a good example. R&D was able to go beyond the original parameters set by marketing. If we would have strictly adhered to those and not used out-of-the-box thinking for VALO, we would not have realized what it is today. Of course, marketing bought in to it once it was developed and shown. They saw the value in it, and it became the product as we now know it.
ID: What motivates you, and what is your vision for Ultradent?
DF: My motivation is making a difference. I want Ultradent to make a difference, and I want my life to make a difference—I want my life to count. I’m not someone who’s happy kicking back and retiring. I feel privileged—I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world so many times to be able to get the education that I got and to be able to have such lovely, fabulous people in our company. It keeps you driven to do your best and make sure that we go as high as we can go.
ID: What one thing you would want dentists to know about Ultradent?
DF: We are a patient- and clinician-centered company. We have a vision—we are passionately driven to improve oral healthy globally. For the patient, our goal is preservation of the natural. Our responsibility is the preservation of our brand, and that brand is determined by responses to a large third-party survey of our customers—who understand that we are progressive and trustworthy. That gives us a certain responsibility, and it’s something that we must continue forever to be driven to maintain. We’re here for the clinician, and we’re here to work to fulfill our vision.