For the past several years, the development in the global dental industry has been characterised by rapidly increasing digitalisation. As one of the largest global enterprises in the business, Henry Schein has embraced this trend from the start. At this year’s International Dental Show (IDS), Dental Tribune Online had the opportunity to speak with Stanley M. Bergman, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Henry Schein, about the company’s participation at the show and its oral health solutions in the digital age.
Dental Tribune Online: Mr Bergman, having been with Henry Schein for over 30 years, you have probably seen more IDS editions than most participants. Do you enjoy coming back every two years, and what are you personally looking forward to this year?
Stanley M. Bergman: I enjoy all my trips to IDS, and what makes this IDS extra special is the accelerating interest in digital dentistry. Digital is coming on fast, and we are determined to help bring our customers into the digital future. Visitors can see many digital technologies at the Henry Schein booth, and we discussed the future of digital at our Tuesday press event. This is an exciting IDS!
In 2016, Henry Schein reported sales of US$11.6 billion worldwide, with the greatest revenue from its dental segment. Is this also a reason that IDS is important for you?
Yes. Dental is our largest business segment, so IDS is always important to us. It is the world’s largest dental meeting and that alone recommends it. It attracts such a large number of visitors, which is why so many companies use IDS to introduce new products.
How important is the German dental market in particular?
As the largest dental market in Europe, Germany is extremely important to Henry Schein. It is the second-largest market globally for our dental business, which is why we employ about 1,200 Team Schein Members at nearly 40 facilities around the country. We are a trusted adviser to our customers, who rely on us for customised solutions to operate an efficient dental practice or laboratory so that they can provide the best possible care to their patients. In Germany, for example, the digitalisation of dentistry is still a major trend. We support this technology transformation with our ConnectDental platform, which offers customers a wide choice of digital technology solutions and all the knowledge, service and support they need.
Is Henry Schein’s participation at IDS 2017 focused on a particular part of the company’s portfolio?
The future is digital and that is our focus at IDS. Everything that can go digital will go digital. It is not a question of if, but when. And the move to digital is accelerating. Our role at Henry Schein is to serve as the trusted adviser to our customers as they transition to digital technologies. We are determined to be the best partner to our customers on this unprecedented journey.
In April 2016, you signed a three-year contract to extend your tenure as Henry Schein’s CEO. In your opinion, what are the main challenges for the company in the near future, and how do you intend to tackle them?
The main challenge is helping our customers manage the digital transformation of dentistry. This transformation is happening now and it is accelerating. We intend to be the company that leads our customers through this transformation.
Acquisitions, such as Marrodent and Dental Cremer recently, have been crucial to Henry Schein’s expansion. Overall, you invested about US$229 million in this field. Will this remain part of the company’s strategy?
Yes. Our growth is based on expanding our existing businesses by gaining market share, supplemented by strategic acquisitions in various geographies and market segments, such as dental specialties. That strategy has served us very well and will remain in place. It is fundamental to our business.
In different parts of the world, we are seeing anti-globalisation advocates rising. Will this affect the business of international enterprises like Henry Schein?
We believe that open markets and free trade have been major forces for reducing global poverty, and we remain strong advocates of open markets and free trade. That said, although we are a global company, we operate locally in every market we serve. As a result, we do not see this debate having a particular effect on our business.
Are you looking optimistically to the future?
Always. As I say to our team every time we meet, our best years are yet to come.