Ivoclar Vivadent: Why Company Culture Matters
I sat in my hotel room late in the evening prepping for the next day. Clothes laid out: check. Laptop charged for notes: check. The next morning I was headed to Ivoclar Vivadent for a restorative open house. It was an opportunity I was so fortunate to have. Dr. David Rice, my mentor, has been working with them for years. He speaks so highly of them that I was so excited to have the opportunity to go peek behind their curtains. I see their products arrive in my monthly order without a second thought sometimes. Between patients and staff and all the things I must do in an 8 hour work day, I use the products and they do not get much more thought especially if they work well, which they always do. So I was looking forward to the opportunity of seeing the company in action. How do they make these products, many of which I am very fond of?
I flip open the computer to do a little research, expecting to be met with sales or products. But the first thing I see are the words “Education and Training.” My eyes scroll down and see:
“Our Values: Passion. Vision. Innovation.”
I am impressed. I am an absolute company culture addict. As my friend Kris Mendoza once joked, Erinne and I are often the only people in a room who read company vision statements for fun. And in the dental world, not many people put their values and mission PHYSICALLY front and center. I usually have to do more digging. I am impressed indeed. I click on the link and learn about how they believe in working together to create products which change dentistry. Those words, passion, vision, innovation, seem so integral to the message they are sending.
Now, full disclosure, I was skeptical. I have seen many a company define their values and goals on paper only to fail in implementation. Not long ago, I was working for a company exactly like that. I commend companies for having values or mission statements on their website at all, but many times it doesn’t go much farther than that. My expectations were low.
Fast forward to the next morning. A group of about 12 of us step off of the charter van in front of a building about 20 minutes away from the Buffalo airport. We walk through a set of double doors and instantaneously are greeted, verbally greeted, by a TEAM of smiling faces, welcoming us to the headquarters the way I am usually welcomed to a friend’s home. My first impression: they are happy to be here and they are genuinely happy to have us here. It BLEW. ME. AWAY.
I know, it seems so simple. But it isn’t. As countless books and expensive consultants will tell you, building a company which practices what it preaches is TOUGH. Encountering it is like seeing a unicorn in the business world. The passion I had spent time reading about on their website was UNDENIABLE within SECONDS of walking through their doors. Having been at companies where I was miserable as an employee, I have immediate respect for companies which foster an environment where people are HAPPY. Ivoclar was clearly this place.
Spending the day at Ivoclar reinforced this feeling tenfold. Here was a place where seniority was of no consequence. Everyone from the leaders to the administrators were so passionate about the company, they bought in so completely to what the company stood for, I had trouble differentiating who was whose boss. Everyone seemed to be working together, at full speed, to help make the company better and MY LIFE, as a dentist, easier. I was touched.
Every member of the team could tell me why the company was named as such (the merger of two organizations: Ivoclar = Ivory and Clarity back from when denture teeth were their wheelhouse, Vivadent = “live tooth” when they grew to expand their scope) to the view out of their main headquarters windows in Shaan, Lichtenstein. Each and every person loved what they did and knew why they did it. I was blown away all day with stories during break time. People told merrily of Christmas tradition (a company wide conference call on Christmas day and unique international Secret Santas). I learned about how the entire North American team packed into a state of the art room on campus weekly to have an open debrief. This company cared that the people answering their phones knew about decisions made half a world away about policy. And it showed.
During the curriculum, I was astonished even further. For every product demonstration, the presenters could tell me down to scientific numbers cited from research why their product was designed as such. They even had the PhD behind their research give us a tour of their lab, making us laugh until I doubled over along the way. Who knew flexure tension could be hilarious and engaging?! As a dentist, I sat in those seats and felt like I had a personal team of incredibly brilliant scientists who worked day and night to design the most ideal products just for me. Not once did someone tell me to buy the company product over a competitor. They just told a story which trusted me to make my own conclusions based on empirical data. They spoke to the scientist in me and I could not have appreciated it more.
Those two days watching the internal working of that company changed how I viewed dental products. It allowed me to now ask the right questions and it allowed me to raise my standards. I finally knew there was a company out there living up to the bar I set for myself.
Thank you Dr. Rice for the invitation of a lifetime! And thank you Ivoclar Vivadent for a weekend filled with passion, vision and innovation. You were true to your word. You are making dentistry better day by day. I appreciate all you guys do for me and for my profession!