An Interview With Christian Brutzer, President of Ivoclar Vivadent North America

By: Howard S. Glazer, DDS FAGD

Christian Brutzer was named the President of Ivoclar Vivadent North America in July and I recently caught up with him in San Francisco at the American Dental Association meeting. We have known each other for over 20 years and I was honored that Christian agreed to share the story of his journey with Ivoclar Vivadent thru the following series of questions:

Q: I know you and IV have placed particular emphasis on Canada…Please tell me about your facility in Mississauga, Ontario?

We have been committed for a long time to our very own presence in the Canadian market. This is paramount for us to have quality collaboration with our Canadian customers. Ivoclar Vivadent North America’s Toronto facility is an integral part of our global set up. We provide full service capability in our office including customer service, technical support and a fully functioning International Center for Dental Education (ICDE). This is unique to the Canadian market.

All products are shipped from our warehouse facility offering next day service Canada-wide as well as pick-up opportunities for local customers. We work closely with our dental trade partners to provide the best possible training and support.

Q: Trade shows seem strong in Canada whilst seemingly in decline in the USA…how is IV responding?

In Canada, the four major trade shows remain vitality important and we continue to support them. Again, the key for any trade show is relevance and acceptance by the target audience that are our dealers and customers. In the USA, we see some trade shows declining and we will evaluate our participation on a case-by-case basis.

Q:  This past July there was a  major “changing of the guard” at Ivoclar both internationally with a new CEO, Diego Gabathuler, and here in North America you have assumed the role of President. How do you perceive this change?

I do not want to be flippant, but as they say, “the only constant is change”. When I joined the Corporate Management Board of Ivoclar Vivadent AG (Group) I was the second youngest and obviously only started my tenure at the Board. Now, only 8 years later, I find I am the longest serving board member, and the oldest.

What this means is that we had many “changes of the guard” in those years – we got a new CTO, CFO, CMO, CSO EMEA and CPO. The company did not stop to move forward since as a team and a company we are bigger than every single person. Yes, the change of the CEO is major milestone – especially after such a long tenure as that by Bob Ganley, but as a good steward of a family owned company, succession planning is always important and as a company, I believe, we did very well in Diego’s selection. He is bringing a new “set of eyes” to the Board with different experiences and is reinvigorating all of us.

I believe we will be even more customer focused, faster in responding to our customer needs and in responding to an ever changing business environment.

Here in North America, we are very lucky that the leadership team knows each other, trusts each other and has been working together for many years now. This includes my previous role as VP for our precious metal business here in North America. As I see it, I have the great fortune to work with some of the best people in this industry in North America.

Photo: Ivoclar Vivadent

Q: You have quite a history in the dental industry, so let’s take a step back and tell our readers how you have come to be president of the North America and a member of the Ivoclar Corporate Management board?

I started in the dental industry over 30 years ago. I initially was on a different career track having graduated from law school and spending my post-graduate time in Japan. I had an offer to set up a dental joint venture in Japan and that job offer was truly fascinating. After I started in dental, I truly became passionate about our industry, the customers I worked with, and the aspect of helping to achieve better oral health for our patients. My career took me from Japan to Europe, from there to Australia and in 1997 for the first time to North America. After only 2 years in the New York area, I was transferred to run a dental group in China returning to the USA in 2004. Since 2004, my family and I reside in the USA.

In 2006, I joined the Ivoclar Vivadent Group taking over the responsibility of our precious metal exports from North America and on a Group level for developing the Asia/Pacific business. The supervisory board deemed the importance of our Asia/Pacific Region so high that my role was elevated to a Corporate Management position in 2006. After 13 years, the A/P Region has matured and my colleagues are doing a great job in running our local A/P markets. This gave me the opportunity to take over more responsibility on the Board and led to my additional appointment as President of Ivoclar Vivadent North America. I am truly honored to follow Bob Ganley in this role and happy to contribute to the growth of our company in Canada and the USA.

Q: What are you immediate plans for Ivoclar and can you look 5 and 10 years forward?

Our business environment is in a state of transformation whether it is consolidation of our business partners on the supply chain side or the lab or dentist side. Transformation is happening on how dental services are delivered – just think about the rapid change in labs and dental offices when it comes to digitalization. Our premier task is to implement the necessary steps we need to take to stay relevant during and after this transformation. This encompasses all aspects internally and externally, products, education and services as well as human resources.

I see us adding new business models to our offering in the next 5 years and a significantly different business down the road. We see the changes in demographics and a renewed interest in removable solutions. Our digital denture solution is surely going to play an important role in that area. Further, the prevention and maintenance of oral health is becoming even more important. Whether this addresses pediatric dentistry or geriatric dentistry both will become more important as we widen our Professional Care portfolio.

All this, whilst we stay true to our vision, values and our mission.

Q: What do you see as the immediate product focus for IV?

On the lab side, we will be driving our digital product offering by adding two more PrograMill units within the next few months. Additional digital products for digital lab manufacturing processes will compliment this.

RELATED ARTICLE: Henry Schein, Ivoclar Vivadent Announce Plans for Distribution of The New PrograMill One Milling System

Dentists will be delighted to learn that we will drive their profitability by introducing “Efficient Esthetics” to their practices. We have just launched our Bluephase G4, a new smart curing light, and we are in the process of launching a complete new light and material concept that will allow dentists to cure direct restorations in 3 seconds! This should enable dentists that normally are scheduling two patients for direct restoration an hour, to now schedule three instead. An enormous advance of productivity in the dental clinic!

Q: The digital world is here and how will IV make a difference?

We have always been a company that provided system and/or process solutions. As we move forward, we will strengthen our presence in the dental office as well in the dental lab by striving to provide smart and cutting-edge digital process solutions that enable our customers to efficiently and sustainably provide esthetic treatment solutions to patients. Artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as our new IvoSmile software providing dentists and patients with a virtual smile design tool will augment this.

Photo: Ivoclar Vivadent

Q: Aside from the forward moving strides IV continues to make in the digital world, what do you see as the future of restoratives, cements, adhesives, and the like?

Listening to our customers still is a great way to get ideas for innovation. Just recently, feedback from customers caused us to develop an additional type of our highly successful Variolink Esthetic cement. We will launch this product close to the end of this year and initial field tests confirm that our customers appreciate our solution to their requests.

That said, direct restoratives are the mainstay of every dental practice. This will continue for a long time to come. However, efficiency will be a major differentiation topic. We address this with our new 3 second curing system. With our innovative Adhese Universal in pen delivery form, we offer a superb and economical adhesive that is growing very well and is liked by an ever-increasing number of practitioners.

Photo: Ivoclar Vivadent

Q: As a restorative dentist, I was excited by Ivoclar’s development of  two new curing lights to its Bluephase portfolio…why is this important?

Direct composite restorations represent one of the most common treatments in the dental practice, second only to dental hygiene. Curing lights are as important to the success of direct restorations as the restorative material itself.  Our Bluephase curing lights have set the standard for light polymerization technology over the last decade and this tradition continues with the launch of two new Intelligent LED curing lights; Bluephase G4 and Bluephase PowerCure.

Both of these lights feature Polyvision, a new “intelligent” technology which ensures proper polymerization throughout the curing process.  Sensors monitor distance, angle and inadvertent movement of the curing light in relation to the restorative material.  If movement is detected, the operator is alerted by an audible signal and vibration of the hand piece, similar to the lane assist feature in a vehicle.  Curing time is automatically extended to ensure the material receives the proper amount of light energy for proper polymerization.

The new Bluephase PowerCure light is part of our new 3second PowerCure System representing a true revolution in placement efficiency of direct posterior composite while maximizing quality and esthetics Ivoclar Viavdent is known for.  The Bluephase PowerCure curing light has the ability to cure Tetric PowerFill composite in increments up to 4mm in just 3 seconds!

Q: What is your view on the change in the practice of dentistry from the traditional solo or small group practice to the DSO’s and corporate dental organizations? And how is IV responding to these changes?

The advance of DSO’s is part of the transformation in our industry I mentioned before. It is a given. As our professional demographics change so, change the expectations of younger dentists coming into the industry. DSO’s offer a unique solution to those that – in a change from previous generations- do not want to go into self-employment as a dentist. As a company we embraced this trend way back and created a specialized team that works with our supply chain partners to create custom-tailored solutions for this specialized customer group.

Q: I know that in Amherst, you have a large training center for post-doctoral education for dentists and technicians alike…What do you see as the future of dental education?

Dental Education will stay relevant. I hope that recent trends in the industry making it harder for manufacturer supported CE credits will be revisited. Our International Centers for Dental Education (ICDE) have been part of our service to the dental community. We have and will continue to provide this service with a relevant curriculum for our dentist and laboratory customers in Mississauga, Amherst, and Sarasota, as well as around the world.

Q: What is your vision for dentistry?

Caries is the largest non-communicable disease and dentists and the dental industry alike are required to create answers. Oral health, and thus dentistry, is a crucial part in overall systemic health. This becomes more and more evident as big data in health care is analyzed. In our society, dentistry will become even more important in the years to come. Dentistry will have to, and will, answer the challenges of an aging population and the increase of esthetic demands by patients.

Q: Any parting words of wisdom?

This is the best industry one can be in. I truly enjoyed what the world of dentistry offered to me during my previous time here in North America and in many places around the world. I am extremely fortunate to take this new assignment and the challenges that come with it.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions…I too share in your visions and am grateful to you and IV for the contributing to the well-being of my patients by advancements made thru products and materials that allow me to provide better are for my patients. I am sure my readers here in Canada and throughout North America join me in wishing you only the best in your new role as president of Ivoclar North America.

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