Archive

Author Archive

A Dental Salesman Never Dies

October 25th, 2018

 

My parents were both actors. Look them up! My father was actually known and successful, with over 200 screen appearances, separate to the stage work.

There are some sayings about actors never dying; they just play older people. Look at the terrific Christopher Plummer, the late Eli Wallach and Mickey Rooney. They never stopped.

I’ve often been asked why I did not enter show business. My answer usually was that I did; I’m a salesman. Only difference of course is that I am not my product. An actor only has himself up there. The successful actor is typically extra-chuffed, for he himself is the successful product. Look at the other end: the unsuccessful actor just sits by the phone, waiting. Takes job perhaps as a waiter – anything that he can abandon suddenly when that phone rings.

We salesmen have to know how to act. We learn our lines, and then have to repeat them sometimes 100s of times, in a manner that seems real to the potential customer. Some of us are more ‘theatrical’ than others, but our success rate will judge that.

And some of us have difficulty retiring. We build up this dental world around us, and then are expected to go potter in the garden. I’ve been in the dental business now for 54 years…

It so happens I do like pottering in the garden (well, on our lovely roof garden overlooking Tel Aviv). Or just sitting there, reading – or staring. I also love playing tennis – almost every day. I love being part of a happily-growing family. I love my collection of antique drinking glasses, biking along the beach or through the park – and doing nothing. THAT’S my definition of retirement: doing something ‘cause you want to, not because you have to.

And I want to continue working, continue what I know I’m good at, continue to see the international dental world I built around me.

A few months ago, I left American Eagle Instruments. I had done my job, establishing the line throughout Europe. I had done a good job. I was known as ‘Mr American Eagle’. But it was time to move on. And UBrush! fell into my lap!!

It all started a year ago at the Dutch Hygienists’ conference. On one of the stands I espied a very pretty lady, surrounded by excited hygienists. Her name: Malou de Kok (‘the cook’). As Dutch as could be (she likes to say with a smile). And a hygienist herself, albeit very successful. Owns a large dental office which employs several dentists. Was a fashion model in the past, still could be, but has developed into a fashion designer, specialising in clothes for ladies in the medical/dental fields.

So, what caused the hygienists’ excitement?  Malou was introducing the UBrush! Simply told, it’s an electric INTERDENTAL toothbrush. ‘Why didn’t I think of that’, many say. Or. ‘I’ve always wondered why no one thought if it before’.

First there were toothbrushes (mainly for the easier-to-reach tooth surfaces). Then came the electric versions, from A-Z. The interdental areas were always a problem: toothpicks, dental sticks, floss, manual brushes with an enormous variety of handles and angles. The interdental area is known to be the critical part to keep clean. But it was always difficult to motivate the patient to use whatever was recommended. (One of the reasons why hygienists will always have a job: no one cleans properly).

Malou not only studied the subject, she went on to solve the problem. She designed the UBrush! and had it produced.

I bought one from Malou immediately. My wife, Aviva, was the first to use the Ubrush! In Israel. I could say she’s our # 1 salesperson. She tells EVERYONE! It’s so user-friendly: the LED light helps her see exactly what she’s doing. The vibration keeps infections away. The easy-in-the-hand unit brings all areas of the mouth into easy reach – even from lingual to labial/buccal when ‘that piece needs pushing out’.

It’s fun!

It’s what everyone should be using right after the basic tooth-brushing. You’ll notice the effect within days.

So, back to me….Malou needed help with the expansion of the company. We (I and a couple of others) joined Malou to form a happy family which is now marketing the UBrush! all over the World.

Retirement? Not a subject.

Uncategorized

Message from the Universe

February 6th, 2018

Not sure who knows, or how many of you know that I live in Israel.

You would have thought that my ‘Message from the Universe’ would be interesting enough it it were only entitled ‘Message from Israel’. In fact, I HAVE been writing ‘Letter from Israel’ since the turn of the Millennium. I am in the process of uploading them to the Net; most of them can be seen via Ourboox.com. Just go to the site an centre ‘Stephen’, and you will find my 2 sections: one pretty picture of me is the cover for my ‘books’ on any subject. The other picture of me, under the Milky Way (a true image of me at the Mitzpe Ramon crater, taken by Jeff Pulver – look him up) is the cover for my ‘Letters from Israel’. Well over 300 of them.

[Believe it or not, I am writing this message at a coffee house in my neighbourhood, and at the table next to me sits Yair Lapid, potential successor to Netanyahu. I could add that I lived in the same building as Shimon Peres, 2 houses down from where Itzhak Rabin lived, and so on…That’s how small this country is.]

 

The changing Dental Exhibition

Back in the mid 60s, when I started in the dental industry, the dental exhibitions were ‘a little different’ to say the least.

Only perhaps the IDS, which is officially the provenance of the German dental industry, has changed little in format – except

  • It’s every 2 years, instead of every 3
  • The location is now permanently located in Cologne, as opposed to a different German city each time
  • Used to be 6 days, now only 5 (first day continues to be Dealer Day)
  • The ‘pavilion’ is now a popular format: a forum for a country’s ‘smaller’ or newer companies to present their goods as part of a ‘national club’, whereby all arrangements are made on their behalf by the club. I believe the Americans were the first to introduce this (through the then-DMA, now known as the DMA), but were closely followed by the British, Italian, Korean, Israeli and many other national organisations.  In fact, this has become the norm at many of the larger international shows, as in Dubai, Singapore and Sao Paulo.

Of course, one factor for any show is the identity of the organisers. Is it the dental profession, or the trade, or a combination of both?

Next is whether the show is combined with a conference. (That’s of course when you get attendance peaks and lows…And then, the location of the trade area and the flow of people to and from that area is a paramount influence on the success of the show.

The big company, whether trade or manufacturer, is understandably a do or die influence. When company ‘A’ decides to miss out, there will be a percentage drop of attendees. And that usually has a domino effect: other companies dropping out and more absentees.

Same thing for dealers. In Europe, there used to be separate shows for companies inside and outside the relevant association. European law stopped that, and bona fide dealers were forced to share their hall with catalogue companies, discount houses and now, online entities. So some larger dealers just abandoned the shows and established their own ‘open house days’ – a closed trade show.

I’ll be attending the Chicago MidWinter meeting in 2 weeks’ time. My first was in 1967, when it was held in the Conrad Hilton. That’s another change in format that has been dramatic. Certainly the case in the USA, shows were held in hotels, which guaranteed confusion. Stands in strange-shaped halls and corridors; stands which were so hidden, their own staff had trouble finding them. (And, with rare exceptions, then rental for the best spaces was the same as the hidden spaces). Even when they had reconstruction work at the Hilton, the show venue became the Hyatt Regency, not an expo centre.

Somehow, that system worked. But of course, the attendance rate was much higher; the atmosphere totally different from today. It would almost unthinkable today not to have a show at regular trade fairground or centre – in Chicago, it’s the McCormick Center.  (And, whether in Sweden, Italy, India or Brazil, the norm is a symmetrical building at a location outside the city, with good private and public transport access).

Paris remains an exception. The ADF is held every late-November, always timed just before or after the Greater New York, so that to attend the opening of one and the closing of the other, you have to be ‘beamed’.

The Palais de Congrès is located within Paris. The building complex includes a entertainment venue and limited shopping mall. Now held on 4 floors, the lay-out of the expo is most strange. Unquestionably divided into ‘popular’ and ‘less popular’ locations – again all of which cost the same rental. They’ve half-solved that problem by grouping stands by subject: equipment, implants, hygiene, digital technology etc.

But….there are few complaints, either from the exhibitors or from the visitors.

Perhaps because it’s Paris. A great city on any day.

Uncategorized

Contrasts of dental standards

May 14th, 2017

 

53 years ago, I started my apprenticeship as a dental salesman. I went to work for almost a year at one of UK’s leading dental dealers, Cottrell & Co. in the heart of London.

Then, there were no composite filling materials, only silicates. No bonding materials, no disposable needles and hardly a seat in sight for the dentist. When you entered the stock room, a common sight was like the one below: boxes and boxes of acrylic teeth.

This was the sight that met me when I entered our dealer’s stock department last week – in Cluj, Romania. “And our stock levels are low at the moment”, I was told.
OK, they DO have composites and disposable needles, and the dentists DO sit down at their work. True, they don’t have dental hygienists, but that’s the same as France, Belgium, Greece and Turkey – and many other countries in the World. So I don’t want to be over-critical. Just observing…

 

01 low

 

This became doubly apparent when I visited Amsterdam’s ACTA (dental university) facilities earlier this week. In fact, on Monday I gave a lecture to 3rd year dental hygienists in an auditorium, that would not look out of place at a modern art museum. Quite stunning.

I mean, just look at the image below: this is just one quick view from the lobby. Could be a Las Vegas hotel with that atrium.

 

02 low

It illustrates the task ahead for those who are trying to bring dental care to the World. For instance, I suggest you check out the efforts of the ADI – Academy of International Dentistry, an organisation that voluntarily directs its funds and brains to exactly that subject. I am proud to help where I can, such as bringing them closer to the IFDH, the World Hygienists’ Association.

You and I may be getting good dental care. But so much of this World just has not caught up – and is in danger of being left far behind. Romania is an example of the problem: they joined the EU some years ago, but, as you see from the above image, have a long way to go.

Smile – Support Your Dentist

 

Uncategorized

Dental Nostalgia in Amsterdam

May 9th, 2017

 

As the notes about my blog state, I’m 53 years in this dental business.
Back in 1967, exactly 50 year ago, and after 3 years’ apprenticeship, I was given my initial sales territory: Holland, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland.
50 years ago, I started selling dental products here in the Netherlands.
And today, I am back here (perhaps for the 100th time) and shall take you for a little walk down Nostalgia Lane.

First, proof that I am in Amsterdam.
Do you know any country that promotes its cheeses as well as the Netherlands?
Yes, in many countries, there are fromageries – but they feature ‘cheese to buy’ from all over the World.
But you won’t see them at every tourist street corner or at the airports etc., as in the Netherlands.

 

1 cheese

 

A few meters away, I arrive at Nes, considered the oldest street in the city.
I stand approximately where one of my customers used to be. There’s am RHO hotel there. I am confused.
Then I see the sign above the doorway: Drijfhout & Zoon. It’s the same building, and there’s the proof!
They were primarily suppliers of precious metals to dental laboratories.
Customer # 1179…I was selling Jelenko products to them, especially the gold alloys.
Those were the days.

 

2 hotel

 

I went inside, and was happily surprised to see that they had retained the old look – now a beautiful hotel lobby, with Art Deco design.
In the old days this beautiful place had offices in every direction.
They told me the hotel had been established in 1990. That’s about right; I stopped working for Jelenko in 1982!

 

3 hotel lobby

 

I continued walking along Nes…the old style on the left, the new on the right.
Strange effect, but that’s Amsterdam, a cacophony of old and new.

 

4 street

 

At the other end, next to the Old Mill Souvenir shop, I gaped at the building where I actually stayed for a few weeks.
I had a Dutch lady friend in those days – had met her playing tennis in London. And when I arrived in 1968, she and her boyfriend invited me to stay with them in Nes.
Look at the view we had from the back windows – and still today…

 

5 view

 

Dental is a great world of which to be a part, and Amsterdam is a great place to sell dental materials…

Smile – Support your dentist

 

Uncategorized , ,

Stein Tessem

November 8th, 2016

 

His name is Stein Tessem.
He is Norwegian dentist, encountered at the recent national expo in Stavanger.
Yes, he likes American Eagle’s non-sharpening instruments.
But that’s not the point!!
The point is that he’s a happy guy who’s giving dentists a good reputation.

 

stein-tessem-low

 

Stephen

Sale -Support your Dentist

 

Uncategorized

Glass in Leipzig

September 27th, 2016

 

Annually, one of the many successful German regional dental exhibitions is held in the very attractive city of Leipzig.

You’ve seen images of stands, hallways, conference rooms and snack bars. But how about a view of a lovely building near the Old Town centre….

 

leipzig-01

 

After the fair ended last Saturday, I had time to roam the town centre on a lovely, sunny late-summer’s day.
The streets were full of people. There were various types of markets: food, groceries, flowers – and the arts.
It was one special stand that caught my eye: Glass Pens.
There they were, being produced before my very eyes. Lovely ones, of every possible design and color.

 

leipzig-02
“Try them out”, he and she invited. And they worked; perfectly. In fact, one dip in the old-style (Parker Quink?) liquid, and you had enough on the pen to write a postcard home.

And what variety of colors and designs….

 

leipzig-03

 

leipzig-04

 

leipzig-05

 

leipzig-06

 

They also were producing and selling beautiful wooden stands..

 

leipzig-07

 

leipzig-08

 

And special bottles, designed like inkwells.

 

leipzig-09

 

Apparently the history of these goes back to the mid 17th Century. The need came from the limited lifespan of then current writing plumes. Glass was already recognized as something that may break, but did not wear, and that was important.

Am I allowed to so a little promotion here? The relevant website is www.buchrose.org. Includes an online shop.
And, according to the makers, if you break them, you just gather the pieces together, send them back, ands they will be repaired like new. That’s a free service (you just pay for the postage).

Of course I bought some. You would have as well.

Smile – Support your dentist

 

Uncategorized , , ,

D & G meets DG at the FDI in Poznan, Poland

September 15th, 2016

 

I am trying so hard to keep this non-commercial, but, hey, blocking out images spoils the fun!

So here she is, name omitted to protect her identity, admiring American Eagle’s XP non-sharpening technology.

 

d-g-meets-dg-at-the-fdi-in-poznan-poland-1

I am their European Sales Director. I am not particularly fashion-conscious. She was therefore quite surprised and confused when I asked her how come she was advertising our Double Gracey line on her head….

 

d-g-meets-dg-at-the-fdi-in-poznan-poland-2

“What are you talking about?”, she asked, smiling

 

d-g-meets-dg-at-the-fdi-in-poznan-poland-3

‘Your hairclip”, I replied. How come you’re advertising our technology.

She went back to studying the instrument. But I know what she was thinking….”Nice guy, nice instruments, now how to persuade my husband to fork out the money?”

 

Smile – Support Your Dentist

 

Uncategorized , ,

Hygienists of the World Unite

July 6th, 2016

 

Basel, Switzerland is known for its financial gnomes. It’s a city that borders both France and Germany. In fact, it has suburbs in both countries. When counting its population, they always come up with greatly varying figures, depending on their definition of where Basel is!

There’s a lovely old town centre, dating back umpteen years. The Rhine river rushes through the city (the strong current is famous and infamous), dividing it very clearly with several bridges on which people love to stop and stare.

Next time you’re there, sit on the terrace of the 3 Kings Hotel; order a (very expensive) drink, enjoy the very special snacks that come with it and then just stare at the view, together with all the other tourists who take my advice.

And between June 23–25, Basel was invaded by the international community of hygienists. Their organization is the International Federation of Dental Hygienists (IFDH), and the conference, held every three years, is the International Symposium on Dental Hygiene (ISDH). (The next conference is in three years’ time in Seoul, but after that, they have decided to hold the conference every two years, the first being in Dublin in 2021).

Obviously, the largest contingent was Swiss, with almost half the just over 2,000 delegates. Also obviously, the Swiss combined this with their annual conference; no need for duplication—especially considering the rather high registration cost.

Next highest, by a very small margin, was the USA. With their 180,000-odd hygienists (the only country in the world, I believe, that has more hygienists than dentists), that was to be expected. But it was closely run ‘race’, with S. Korea just losing out. Some were there primarily to promote the next conference…

 

Hygienists of the World Unite 1

 

Next we see the new President of the IFDH, Robyn Watson, promoting the Seoul conference.

Hygienists of the World Unite 2

 

I could not resist the temptation….

Hygienists of the World Unite 3

 

Some of you may have noticed that I live in that little island called Israel. (Well, originally, I am English, but that island was last seen being kept afloat by its Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish paddlers). The Israeli delegation was 5th or 6th in size. Here you see Sharon Friedman, president of the Israeli association, waving the flag at the opening ceremony and most of the Israeli hygienists enjoying the moment…

Hygienists of the World Unite 4

 

Hygienists of the World Unite 5

 

Our company, American Eagle Instruments, and our dealer in Israel, AB 2000, decided to make the Israelis extra welcome by inviting them to a Swiss evening. It was a warm evening, but still the guests seems to enjoy the very special cheese fondue served…

Hygienists of the World Unite 6

 

the wine and the speeches…

Hygienists of the World Unite 7

 

and the Swiss music…

Hygienists of the World Unite 8

 

Basel was a success. If you’ve never been to Seoul, now you have an excuse!!

Smile – Promote Your Dentist

 

Uncategorized

Dental Expo, Elections and St. Stephan

May 24th, 2016

 

Annually, the Austrian dental trade show is held in the capital city. The expo centre is modern, conveniently-located. Lectures are organized, many stands offer refreshments, and there’s even a large area where traditionally-attractive and delicious open sandwiches are freely served, backed up by a very decent choice of the best wines – all free.

So why the usual post-expo discussions about how to attract more people?

  • Used to be a 3-day meeting. They dropped the Thursday. Good decision?
  • They’ve shortened Saturday to just 5 hours. Good decision? (If the sun’s out, as it was this weekend, who wants to go to a dental exhibition?).
  • More lectures? Perhaps.
  • Special offers? Getting everyone to agree is a problem.
  • Hold the expo every 2 years? Being discussed.

 

Not sure if the Thursday night AC/DC concert at the adjoining stadium made any difference. Not sure if many of the black t-shirted long-haired guests at the hotel were potential dental buyers. (And that’s just the women…..).

So, what else could you have experienced here in Vienna?

Well, first, a taste of what’s happening in many parts of our world: on-the-edge-ones’-seat elections. Only a few minutes ago, Austria declared the leftist Green Party candidate, Alexander van der Bellen the new President, by the skin of his teeth. Having eliminated the centrist parties in the first rounds of the vote, van der Bellen defeated the Far Rightist, Norbert Hofer, by the narrowest of margins – after adding up all the postal votes. “Phew” whispers the rest of the World?

How about a meeting with Gerhard Strassgschwandner, director of the Third Man Museum, which shows not only the whole story of the famous Oson Welles movie, but also illustrates in great detail the incredible atmosphere of Vienna in 1947-8, still in ruins and totally controlled by the 4 Allied forces – just like Berlin except, the the 1st District, the Allied vehicles ALL were manned by at least 1 member of each of the 4 occupiers (US, France, Russia and UK).

 

Wien 01 LOW

 

Wien 02 Low

 

You could have visited Stefans Dom, St. Stephen’s cathedral. (My parents named me after this church – my father was Viennese). Right now, Rod Stewart gets his name in the same spotlight.

 

Wien 03 LOW

 

Wien 04 LOW

 

You could visit the famous Palmers stores, Austria’s leading supplier of ladies intimate wear, and understand, from this ad., why they cause so many car accidents in the country.

 

Wien 05 LOW

 

How about sitting in the famous Naschmarkt, which means, literally, ‘snack market’. Took this strange image of 2 sisters from Arizona and their mirror images.

 

Wien 06 LOW

 

Wien 07 LOW

 

Wien 08 LOW

 

Have a tour of the city sites on one of the famous Viennese ‘Fiakers’ (hackneys).

 

Wien 09 LOW

 

Or have an implant inserted by Drs. Michael Weinlaender and Walter Wadsak in their beautiful and modern premises within meters of St. Stephen.

 

Wien 10 LOW

 

Go by tram to see Placido Domingo in ‘La Traviata’ at the Staatsoper.

 

Wien 11 LOW

 

Wien 12 LOW

 

See Vienna’s versions of Holywoods’s ‘walk of fame’…

 

Wien Karajan 13 LOW

 

Wien Strauss 14 LOW

 

Wien Bach 15 LOW

 

Wien Philharmoniker 16 LOW

 

Or learn to communicate by means of Esperanto, as per Dr. Ludwig Zamenhof

 

Wien 17 LOW

 

Wien 18 LOW

 

And finally, wash your hands at the Hotel Imperial – at up to $1,500 per night.

 

Wien 19 LOW

 

Wien 20 LOW

 

Smile -Support your dentist

 

Uncategorized , ,

Hollywood goes to the dentist

May 3rd, 2016

 

Recently, there has been the usual dental event at Schein in the Netherlands. It has been running successfully for over 30 years.

Every year, there has been a theme. Might be ‘Roman Times’ or ‘Winter Sports’, ‘The Jungle or ’Traditional Holland’.

The decor in the special marquis and around the Schein building would reflect the mood of the theme. Staff would dress up; even the food served would be of a special flavor.

In earlier days, some – only some – of the suppliers would make an effort to join the mood. I’d make sure American Eagle staff were among the few who made the effort to support the idea…

In recent years, the philosophy has changed. Instead of ‘coming just for fun – and good deals’, the focus has been more in education. Schein puts on some very good lectures, and this has been attracting perhaps less of the ‘very faithful’, and has brought in the new, younger clients, willing to learn.

But the idea of a them continues.

This years, it was ‘The Movies’, and that’s right up my street. For4 my parents were both actors. I was this time perhaps the only supplier to do something special. I had a roll-up individually produced..

Here I am in front of the banner, showing different images from my parents’ careers –

 

Hollywood goes to the dentist 1

 

In front of me, on the table, a book, a copy I produced, and a copy of which was given to every customer. It’s called ‘Visiting Hours’. It is not only a book that can be given to whomever you are visiting in a home or in a hospital, it actually reflects that theme: my father was Eric Pohlmann, who appeared in around 200 movies. (Check him out online. For instance, see his special connection wit the James Bond movies).

In the early 60’s, he spent some months in and out of hospitals. While there, he sketched the faces around him. Mostly patients, but also the doctors, nurses and visitors.

I put all the sketches into the book, plus a couple of others, and added the kind of words I think my father would have written, had he put his mind to it. We had the same sense of humour.

 

Hollywood goes to the dentist 2

 

No, you don’t have to buy the book (although I’m considering marketing it). Just go to ourboox.com, and you’ll find it there – plus the other books I have published.

And the Dental Event?

Thanks to the book, we got far more orders, we welcomed new customers, the management and staff appreciated the effort I’d made, and everyone was happy.

 

Smile – Support your dentist.

 

Uncategorized