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Interview: “Ensuring and contributing to a healthy, long-living society”

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Michele Puttini, president of GC Europe, addresses the audience at GC's 95th anniversary. (Photograph: GC Europe)
Kasper Mussche, DTI

By Kasper Mussche, DTI

Thu. 15. February 2018

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With a company history going back as far as 1921, Japanese manufacturer GC Corporation now has a portfolio of thousands of dental products, sold in over 100 countries around the world. As a sponsoring member of the Association of Dental Dealers in Europe (ADDE), GC supports the dental trade across Europe. Dental Tribune International spoke with President of GC Europe Michele Puttini about GC’s Vision 2021, the changing dealer–manufacturer relationship, and current trends and challenges in the industry.

In 2016, GC celebrated its 95th anniversary. According to the company’s Vision 2021, GC aims to work for “a future where all people in the world share the joy of health”. Could you please explain the vision a little bit more?
Vision 2021 drives all of us towards “challenging to the N. 1 dental company of the world by challenging to the N. 1 dental company of the world by making further contributions to the healthy long-living society”. This means that GC, as a family-owned company, is less concerned about short-term profitability and seeks to challenge the dominance of listed competitors by selflessly developing products and procedures focused on improving the quality of life of patients, taking into account the growing needs of an ageing society. Our associates are inspired to achieve this long-term goal by following a number of guidelines. First, we encourage them to involve customers in the development of products that make a strong contribution to oral health.

Second, we strive for the recognition of dental professionals by applying semui. Semui is a core GC value that can be described best as doing things for the sake of others, and not for our own sake. In doing so, we strive to exceed customer expectations regarding quality, innovation, service and value. To maintain this competitive edge, we apply kaizen, a system of continuous improvement and quality management. Lastly, there is GC no kokoro, which means “GC in your hearth”. The idea behind this concept is the creation of a positive working environment based on respect, companionship and selflessness, while educating our associates to cope with changes in the global business environment.

Digitalisation continues to be a hot topic in dentistry. For example, you recently introduced your Aadva IOS oral scanner. What are some of the other trends in the dental industry right now, and what market changes can we expect?
The use of e-commerce in the distribution of dental materials is spreading fast across northern and central Europe. Obviously, this is posing new challenges to our traditional distribution partners. We need to actively support them in this transition while seeking mutually beneficial business opportunities. Another recent development is the increasing number of group practices and large laboratories. This has encouraged us to come up with tailor-made approaches to fulfil the expectations of these customers. To remain competitive in such an environment, we need an even closer cooperation with distributors. Lastly, ageing populations, especially in western Europe and Japan, present new treatment challenges. As a manufacturer, GC understands the need to address this growing segment and is promoting minimally invasive techniques to support optimal treatment of elderly patients.

How does GC Europe work with dental dealers throughout Europe, and why do you consider them important for the success of your company?
GC has benefited from the support of our distributors in making our products available all over the world. This support has definitely been reliable and dependable. In turn, we see it as our responsibility to make sure that our products are well known and in high demand. For this purpose, we have a large sales team in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the prime responsibility of which is exposing dentists and laboratory technicians to our new products and new technologies.

What factors are important for GC in terms of manufacturer–dealer relationships?
The main factor is the accessibility of our sales channels to promote our products. We consistently discuss how we can create value for both parties.

What should dental dealers pay attention to when working with manufacturers of dental products?
Dealers need to understand what the manufacturer’s strategic priority is and consequently propose initiatives that help the manufacturer move in that direction. That is why manufacturers are generally willing to support dealers who do this more effectively than others.

The ADDE represents the interests of dental dealers in Europe. GC is located close to Brussels, the EU capital. Why do you support the ADDE as a sponsoring member?
The ADDE strives to coordinate the collective interests of both the dental industry and the dental trade. We strongly believe that working together is the best way to determine what is best for us.

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