Nov/Dec 2008
Volume 4, Issue 10

Kerr Corporation

Leo Pranitis, Vice President of Global Marketing

Orange, California

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?

Leo Pranitis (LP): I would describe what we have experienced in the past decade as an environment of divergent change. On one hand, the dental consumable marketplace has obviously become fragmented. For example, 10 years ago the composite market was occupied to a large extent by a handful of manufacturers. Today, that playing field has an exponential number of companies vying for dentists’ attention. On the other hand, increased consumer demand for more esthetic, functional, and durable restorations has created a formidable technological “gate of entry” that can only be met by significant research and development investment. So while the market is very crowded, the ability to truly innovate, educate, and differentiate is attainable by only a few companies within our space.

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?

LP: Our past has been rich with achievements that represent significant technological innovation, including renowned brands, such as Herculite®, OptiBond®, Premise™, and Demetron®. But what distinguishes these brands is their ability to stand up to modern esthetic challenges. For example, this year we successfully launched a greatly improved version of Herculite in Europe, XRV Ultra™. We have spent the last decade continually improving our OptiBond brands with first-to-market unique Unidose® devices and, of course, drawing upon the scientific expertise at Kerr to produce the very latest generational offerings, such as OptiBond All-In-One, our single-component self-etch adhesive system. In just the past year, we proudly witnessed the most successful curing light product launch in Kerr’s history with the Demi™ light-emitting diode cordless unit. Each of these contemporary wins represents our ability to maximize our core competencies, building on what we learn to create unique and innovative products that best meet the demands of modern dentists.

Now, as a part of the global Danaher enterprise, we have gained immediate access to tools and resources that, going forward, will allow us to innovate at a level that was previously beyond our reach.

Question No. 3

ID: What do you see as your biggest responsibility to the marketplace, and why does your choice rank as your No. 1 priority?

LP: As part of the Kerr/Sybron and Danaher family, our primary responsibility is to play our commensurate role within the Danaher portfolio in creating shareholder value every day, year after year. Specifically, our ability to compete for customers as well as shareholders is achieved as we develop a deep and broad understanding of all the customers we serve—dentists, distributors, and patients alike. This earnest, on-going effort allows us to provide industry-leading materials of superior quality delivered with the highest level of service; solutions that are inspired by dentists’ needs in their daily practice; and educational tools that keep the customer at the forefront of advanced technology and procedures. In doing so, the goals of our organization are completely balanced and aligned with both our corporate parent as well as our customers.

Lastly, I believe that you would be hard-pressed to find another dental company that applies more rigor to the product development process than Kerr. In conducting this diligence with every product launch or in-line improvement we make, we truly are meeting the highest standard of responsibility to the profession.

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?

LP: While we are primarily a consumable dental materials company, we have been known to branch into other areas of interest. Innovation is not exclusive to any particular category, and if we see an area where we can provide expertise, new ideas, and ultimately differentiation, then we may apply resources toward that challenge.

We spend an inordinate amount of time in front of dentists, either through focused voice of customer (VOC) activities or broader research queries, and what we have seen is this: The company that feels they have the last word in any given category and, therefore, no improvement is necessary need only to look over its shoulder to see others catching up—and ultimately surpassing it. That’s not to say there isn’t a certain segment of the customer base that is more than satisfied—and in many cases, prefers—a mature product that enjoys longevity and a solid reputation within the marketplace. Kerr is fortunate to have a stable of brands that delight dentists who fall anywhere along that continuum, and we have achieved that feat by embracing innovation throughout our entire product line offerings.

Question No. 5

ID: There are many challenges facing dentistry and oral healthcare today. How is your company helping to resolve them?

LP: One area that continues to concern me—and, I believe, should also concern practitioners today—is the increasing noise that exists within the dental space. By noise, I mean the rising number of competitors looking to enter the dental market. As the sheer volume of players continues to grow, confusion grows as well. When that happens, even the greatest ideas run the risk of being marginalized. Therefore, companies like Kerr are spending additional energy looking for ways to get attention first, and tell the story second. While this presents some fun and interesting challenges for us as a company, it can also tax our resources. Adding another layer of complexity, we’re competing across industries for the discretionary spending of patients in the areas of personal health, beauty, and well-being—everything from gym memberships to plastic surgery—with Americans spending upwards of $12 billion annually.

So, Kerr continues to work very hard to engage the customer early, build an innovative concept, and, finally, ensure that we’re meeting the toughest standards by funding third-party research outside of our facility. Through this final step of confirmation, we’re going a long way toward cutting through that noise to create clarity for today’s dentists.

About the Authors

Leo Pranitis
Vice President of Global Marketing
Kerr Corporation
Orange, California

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