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The Best Practices in Determining Best of Class: Why This Award is Coveted By the Industry and Respected By the Dental Community

October 13, 2020
by Lou Shuman, DMD, CAGS, CEO and Founder of Cellerant Consulting


best of classFrom an idea fleshed out over a breakfast meeting at the Chicago Midwinter 12 years ago, to today, the Cellerant Best of Class Technology Awards are covered by every dental journal in North America. The American Dental Association has partnered with Cellerant to provide the largest exhibit space at its annual meeting, with the Best of Class Alley providing ADA attendees a singular location to visit all the winners. Every company in dentistry waits in anticipation to see if they will receive the 7-pound art glass sculpture that represents the most coveted award in the industry.

The question is, “Why? The answer is two-fold: the process and the panel.

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The Process
The selection process is rigorous, unbiased, not-for-profit, and transparent. Throughout the course of the year, the Best of Class Panel exhaustively searches for technologies that truly differentiate themselves from their competitors or, in some cases, literally define a new category. Companies also have the opportunity to nominate themselves at cellerantconsulting.com.

The final selection occurs at the Chicago Midwinter Meeting at the Fairmont Hotel, as it has for the past 11 years. The Cellerant team and Best of Class Panel take over the top floor of the hotel, where last-minute presentations are provided on the request of the panel, and private conversations occur between panelists up through Friday night. At about 9 p.m. everyone convenes, the hotel door shuts, and the meeting goes into the wee hours of the night. Finally, well into Saturday morning, the white smoke comes out of the chimney and the winners are selected.

Though the panel reviews every category, the winners are not chosen by category; that allows a category to be skipped if there is no true standout. Each panelist divulges any companies they are consulting for, as that disqualifies them from voting in that category. There is no marketing-driven Top 10 or Top 20. The number of winners is the number, be it 14 or 22.

“Emerging” is the only category that exists outside of a “standard win,” and to be honest, that a category like this can exist and be celebrated is one of the reasons why I started Best of Class years ago. It’s exciting to find new technologies that can stand side by side with the billion-dollar company winners as equals. Years ago, I received an email from a dentist in Alaska who thanked me for having such a positive impact on his ability to practice. He went from village to village and “The Nomad” was a game-changer. He never would have known the handheld X-ray system existed if he hadn’t followed the awards. An Emerging winner can either define a new product category altogether or stand to challenge established category leadership.

The voting can get very contentious. The panel recognizes the importance and seriousness of its decision. Winners have garnered funding as well as exclusive distribution deals and acquisition
opportunities.

The Panel
The panel consists of the most prominent technology leaders in dentistry:

Dr. John Flucke – technology editor and chief dental editor for Dental Products Report® (DPR)
Dr. Paul Feuerstein – technology editor for Dentistry Today
Dr. Marty Jablow – Americas’s Dental Technology Coach
Dr. Chris Salierno – chief editor of Dental Economics
Dr. Pam Maragliano-Muniz – chief editor of Dentistry IQ and editorial director of DACE
Dr. Lou Shuman – founder and creator of the Best of Class Technology Awards and author of national columns on technology in DPR, Dental Economics, and Oral Health.

As founder and creator of the award, I want to assure you that the integrity of the process has remained true since its inception. The vision of providing the dental community the few products that stand out over thousands and to inform the dental manufacturing community what its technology experts consider the leading products in their space has been the goal from the beginning.

Click here for Best of Class 2020 Winners.


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