The goal remains the same: To remain constantly relevant to our customers

Henry Schein aims to provide every product that a practitioner may need, with a strong focus on value-added services and solutions. As CEO Stanley Bergman explains, Henry Schein has evolved over time to ensure the company remains constantly relevant to customers.

Mr. Bergman, how would you describe the current market climate for dentistry?
First of all, we are more than a wholesaler. We are increasingly providing value-added solutions and services—supply chain management, software, education and financial services to customers.

I think the state of dentistry is very good, it's positive, and there have been a lot of scientific articles published in the last seven or so years that show the direct correlation between good oral care and its connection with total health. So we know that non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which are the biggest part of health care expense, can be reduced, with increased emphasis on wellness and prevention. All of this leads to wellness and prevention, and dentistry is right at the centre. Now it is a matter of getting these published articles to the attention of decision-makers such as government and payers as well as the public and, I think, we are making progress in that.

Since you are in a position to serve both medical doctors and dentists, do you see any opportunities to make them greater collaborators in an overall health care approach?
You are focusing on the reason why we spun off our veterinary business: we want to focus on wellness and prevention. There is a growing movement towards wellness and prevention being the way to reduce the cost of health care, and to improve the outcomes and the quality of life; this is throughout the world. What we are seeing in a number of countries is dental clinics integrating with the medical arena and the practice of medicine integrating with dentistry, with the goal of dealing with the human condition in a holistic manner, and viewing the mouth as part of the body. I think this is very exciting for dentistry because dentists, of course, in their education, are taught about anatomy, physiology, and all of these aspects of health. With the growing appreciation of an overall approach to health care, I think there is now a growing economic drive for both dentistry and medical professionals to bridge the gap and come together.

The Internet Brands joint venture aims to create a demand generation platform. Is that in line with this overall approach, and are you now in a position to create larger demand for dental and medical clinics?
Our goal is twofold: first to pique the interest of the public to the importance of oral care; and second, when the public has a question on oral care, we want to direct them to the dentist, so that the dentist can actually answer that question. It sounds like a big vision but, through various forms of data and artificial intelligence, and while protecting the consumer's privacy, we will find ways to drive business into the dental office because good dentistry equals good health.

Over the years, Henry Schein has become not only a deliverer of products and services, but also a manufacturer. Is this a hybrid strategy that you are going to expand on in the future?
Henry Schein believes that we should be able to provide every product and service that a practitioner may need: every product, from consumables to pharmaceuticals to equipment and software. Within the consumables space, we have specialty companies. We could not obtain access to high-quality innovative implants, of brand recognition available,  at a reasonable price, so we invested in BioHorizons and CAMLOG likewise in the orthodontics and endodontics space. This puts us in a position to supply our customers with products of high quality, at a fair price. We are not focused on becoming a manufacturer, but in cases where we cannot obtain access to the products, then we will manufacture them.

Is it fair to say that you are already entering the stage of being a hybrid industry player, doing both manufacturing and distribution?
We do manufacture products, and we have some high-quality factories, but I do not see us making dental chairs, for example, or imaging machines. I don’t see that and we don’t even offer private brands in those areas. It is really about the following strategies: there are the big national brands that we sell, then we have the brands for products that we can’t access, and then we have our private brand, which is focused on the less clinically-sensitive but high-quality products. Of course, the fourth strategy is our software and services. Within these businesses, of course, we have to have knowledge of manufacturing.

Geographically, where is your focus?
Everywhere—where dentists are needed. We are advancing our work in the developing world. In Brazil, we have become quite active; South Africa, China, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and Thailand. We are doing all we can to convince governments around the world of the importance of oral care—from the FDI to the World Economic Forum to the World Health Organization. Wherever health care decision makers meet, we will be there to talk to them about the importance of oral care.

Looking forward, how would you describe the company’s vision for the coming years?
The achievements and the vision are the same: to keep a culture in place that remains relevant to our customers. We are working in an environment of "intrepreneurship", which is entrepreneurship in a big company. Everybody is engaged and our job is to keep that atmosphere in place because it will constantly make us relevant to our customers.

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