Archive for April, 2011

A Beautiful Couple

April 26th, 2011

I was told that I could write about anything in this blog – as long as the subject was connected with ‘dental’.

Well….My wife, Aviva, and I, together with our brother-in-law, Dani (a leading artist from Haifa), went for a walk in Jaffa yesterday. We all have teeth.

After seeing some of the special sights, the new promenade and park, the special art galleries (naive art, glass etc. etc.) and the quaint alleys of the Old City, we entered a new restaurant – Azteca – and there we met this couple….

She’s Zha Zha, from Hannover. He’s King Hurricane Kwazulu – from Lesotho (S. Africa). They’re special in every way. First…well just look at them! He’s a musician (oh, what a surprise). But what is a surprise is that he does not play reggae. He plays most everything else. His speciality instrument (he plays many) is the beat box. That’s what such guys do with their lips….

King had been travelling for many years, always wanting to move on. When he came here, 2 years ago, he felt that this could be his home. Israel… Wow. He said that he knew the Israelis to be rather loud and aggressive. After being here some time he had come to the conclusion that, yes, the Israelis are loud and aggressive (as are many other peoples). But now he understood it, and it was OK.  This tiny country, what was seen a few months ago as the problem pinpoint in the Middle East, and which is now the peaceful pinpoint in the Middle East, has a big enough heart and personality to attract such a man.

Zha Zha? She’s also been travelling the World, picking fruit in Australia and teaching there. She tried to get into India, but no visa. So she contacted the friend she had met in the Canaries, and he said to come here – and she came. I have a feeling she’ll also stay.

Dani wanted a picture with them….

So tall….’Pick him up’, I requested….

Smile – Promote your dentist.

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The ‘Best Dental Expo in the West’

April 18th, 2011

As promised, some images of what is always a terrific show.

Back in the 1960s, when I started travelling, the Open Houses in Holland were already ‘talked about’. In those days, Tjaden and Tholen were the 2 big guys, with Dental Union not far behind them (all 3 located in Utrecht, near the university), plus NDO Leeflang, located in Amsterdam. All of them ran open houses; all were fun and all were successful.

Tjaden and Tholen have ‘disappeared’ (although I did espy Mr. Tholen jnr. walking through an IDS hall). Dental Union had retained the name, but of course, there have been some changes.

And then there was Leeflang. When old Mr. Leeflang passed on (I remember him so well, smoking his big cigars behind his glass partition), the company went into the hands of  the sale manager, Jo Groen (that’s Guiseppe Verdi in Italian). His son Harald became involved. Then the manager, Ger Bastiaans, together with 2 partners, took over.

This is Ger with yours truly (I am the Pope), and on my other side, his son Richard (Don Corleone in negotiations with the Vatican?).

Ger is usually credited with being the one who built ‘the house’ as we now know it. Sold first to the financial group, demedis, and then on to Henry Schein, NDO Leeflang became a very important dealer – and there Open House became legendary.

I have always maintained that it is not so much the Dutch mentality that has been the factor. Check out the occasional national expos there and see how poorly attended they can be, with a total lack of atmosphere. No, this is something that an individual dealer thought of, and the others copied. It took a long time to bear fruit, but once successful, it has become an annual event, at which the dealers turn over a very large percentage of their annual business.

I reported that the Schein European management held their meeting in Holland this week. It was not so much to learn but to observe – and, yes, to perhaps pick up some hints. (My opinion – not necessarily that of the management).

One nice feature of the Open House is that they choose a them every year. Might be ‘Africa’ or ‘Winter sports’. This year it was ‘Italy’. All the buildings are decorated a la ‘Forza Italia’, and all the staff are decked out in Italiana. See below –

Nathalie, from the Italian company Micerium, pointed out to me that the Pope was not actually located in Italy, but that did not dent my enthusiasm (being one of the only suppliers to make the effort to dress up). And not only was I the Pope; have a look at my assistants, Ileen Helstone (Dutch dentist) and her sister Jacky (both originally from Surinam).  (Any similarities to Whoopi Goldberg’s ‘Sister Act’ are purely intentional).

Won’t tell you my sales turnover (just hand instruments). Suffice to say that they were substantial. One of the many incentives was the system of coins handed. During a certain period prior to the Open House, coins are given out to the value of orders taken. But they can only be redeemed at the Open House. So along come well over 2,000 dentist (and spouses, children and staff). The major and/or exclusive suppliers have the ‘honour’ of providing ‘gold coins’ with a face value of 50, We give them out for certain order values.. It is quite stunning how much we are able to increase orders just by informing the customer of how much more he/she needs to add to achieve the ‘golden value’.
A salesman’s joy!

Smile – Promote your dentist



Schein Management faces Sneijder free kick

April 18th, 2011

As can clearly be seen, Wesley Sneijder’s reputation for powerful soccer blasts preceded him…………..

Now that I have your attention, let me take a step back and just admit that this is an exclusive photo-op of Henry Schein’s European management team (missing France and UK this particular occasion).

They are, in the back row, and from left to right, Bernd Hohmann, Managing Dir., Germany Dental Michael Racioppi, Senior VP, Chief Merchandising Officer Michael Kutzner, VP, Chief Information Office, Europe Cees Balder, Managing Director, Austria, BeLux and Czech Republic Dental Mark Rahman, VP, CFO, European Dental Group Gerard Metselaar, DDS, VP, Corporate Brand Sales and Marketing – International

Front row: Jacques-Philippe Peyron, VP, European Dental Group Marketing Rene Plomp, Managing Director, Netherlands Dental Bob Minowitz, President, European Dental Group Riccardo Gandus, Managing Director, Italy Dental  Juan Molina, Managing Director, Spain & Portugal Dental Patrick Thurm, Vice President, Dental Equipment Marketing – Europe

(Graham Stanley was also supposed to be there. He’s VP and Chief Financial Officer – International Group. I think my camera proved to be over-intimidating).

I spoke to Susan Vasallo, located back in New York. She’s Corporate Communications. She kindly gave me some more background to this very important get-together. Topics covered during the management meeting included European customer insights, strategic planning, the latest technology and new products, Schein’s ‘dental specialty’ and value-added services offering. And, of course, they were in Almere to witness ‘The Event’.

Many (including myself) call this the most successful commercial dental exhibition of the year – the Schein Open House in Holland. Taking place on Friday and Saturday of this week. (A separate blog will be posted subsequently). Yesterday, Wednesday, they had their ‘Mini Open House’, during which Schein’s ‘major suppliers’ had a chance to meet the sales teams (both external and internal) on a 1-to-1 basis.

In addition to the discussions, the management were all being given an opportunity to see for themselves how an Open House can be run. Well over 2,000 dentists will come, many of them with their families. They will have smiles on their faces, for every year the Open House has a theme – this year it’s ITALY – and the whole company will be decked out ‘à la Italiano’, including the staff…this is a picture of Schein Holland’s Tanja de Kock and Willem Leeftink ‘letting their imagination run wild’…

The suppliers are asked to make an effort to dress up. None do. Except American Eagle of course (that’s me). Get ready for some very silly pictures in the next blog.

Smile – Promote Your Dentist



The Dental Universe of Holland

April 13th, 2011

‘Messages from the Universe’ is of course a misnomer. Even with my incredible team of roving investigators and reporters, there are parts of this wonderful universe of ours that are not going to be covered these blogs. So be it.

Right now, today, I am in Holland (Netherlands to those of you who are hot on crossword puzzles. And please don’t ask me which is the official capital of this country. It usually depends which way the coffee shop is facing).

Visited the lovely little town of Nederhorst den Berg, not so far from Amsterdam. On the way, I passed the obligatory views of Holland: the windmill, the canals that run so beautifully through every corner of the Dutch people’s lives, and the local ducks, who seemed to be helping me get into my parking place.

One of my staff even passed this sign in the very next village – in the middle of nowhere…

(Can’t run away from this industry – apparently, this company’s product has something to do with dieting after a visit to the dentist).

I was here to visit a very shy lady. I have to be careful what I write about her. Suffice to say that she is the president of one of the 2 oral hygienist associations in Holland, and an important international spokesperson on the use of the laser in the dental office, especially in the dental hygienist’s office.

Her speciality is the laser; she lost me on that subject. But what we do have in common is the use hand instruments and children  – I became a grandfather of the most gorgeous little girl last Wednesday…and she has 3 lovely kids. She has just moved her home and office to what used to be the local police station. Is that a first? (Ooops, you just may have guessed her identity…).

Our main discussion concerned American Eagle’s claim that their scalers and curettes do not require sharpening, and how to prove that fact to the non-believers who won’t even try the product. One of the classic marketing phenomena: how to change old habits, no matter how wrong or even unpopular they are. My classic response is, when buying a new car, do we demand that they put the old car’s seats in? Everything new, advanced, better, requires time to get used to it.

And the old stuff? The windmills? They rotate into history. While today’s Dutch architecture changes slightly….

Smile – Promote your dentist.


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