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Interview: 'Kerr is waking up the world of dentistry'

Dental Tribune International

Dental Tribune International

Thu. 9 June 2011


NEW YORK, NY, USA: With new products on the market and a new leader at the helm, Kerr is getting people’s attention. Dental Tribune spoke with recently hired president, Damien McDonald, to gain some insight about him, the company and its products.

Much of your career has been spent in the medical products industry. What drew you to the dental industry and what drew you to Kerr?
Damien McDonald: When I look at my career choices so far, helping people is the main objective for all of the companies I’ve worked for. In some cases, the products that I worked with saved lives, and sometimes it’s been about a patient’s self-esteem, but the common thread has always been about helping people. So that’s what I love about working with medical and dental products — if we get our job right, we make a patient’s life better.

During your career, you’ve worked overseas for other global companies. What have you learned from your global experience that will help you lead Kerr?
The No. 1 thing I’ve learned, no matter what country I’m in, is that you have to listen to your customers. Customers drive innovation. We need to have conversations with them about our brands, and the conversation has to be ongoing.

I’m just coming out of the first 100 days with Kerr, and so far, I’ve spent most of my time just listening to people. I’m still determining what our next steps will be, but one of the first things I’d like to do is have our marketing and R&D divisions travel in the field more. Every day we should have somebody in the operatories listening to input from our customers.

Although you’ve only been with Kerr a short time, what have you seen or experienced that affirms your decision to join the company?
Three things come to mind: First, that we have really tremendous people working for us, and I really love their passion for our products and customers. Every week I see this reinforced.

Second is that we have relationships with customers that are really quite extraordinary. Our task is to make sure we never take the depths of those relationships for granted. We enhance these relationships when we continue to invest in the quality of our products and our people.

This leads to the third point: innovation is key. Our successful customer relationships are key to driving our productivity around innovation.

You say that product innovation is one of your keys for success. What Kerr products do you think meet this criterion?
We have a great lineup of innovative products across the board. I think our two most recent product introductions reinforce our commitment to innovation.

First is the SonicFill Bulk Composite System. SonicFill is the first sonically activated, single-step, bulk-fill composite system for posterior restorations. With its exceptional technology, this system can dramatically save clinicians time and effort. What makes this product truly unique is that it is fast, easy and reliable — three things that you can’t get from any other bulk fill composite system. Other systems may be fast. Other systems may be easy or reliable, but no other bulk fill composite material offers all three.

The second product is our OptiBond XTR self-etch, light-cure universal adhesive. This product is truly universal, working well for all direct and indirect restorations. In a very crowded product category, we’ve received overwhelming accolades from independent evaluators about OptiBond XTR, that’s pretty impressive.

What challenges are dentists facing, and what is Kerr doing to make their lives easier?
We recognize that there are tremendous pressures placed on dentists, especially around the costs of running a practice. Our responsibility as a partner with them is to ensure we are innovating around costs, quality and procedure.

For example, OptiBond XTR is a one-stop shop for adhesive. If the dentist is so inclined, he or she doesn’t need to have any other adhesive in his or her practice. With its great track record and proven long-term clinical performance, the OptiBond product line is ideal for any dentist’s needs. Many clinicians tell us that SonicFill saves 50 percent of the placement time for posterior restorations, allowing the dentist to be more productive.

Kerr is truly committed to providing the best solutions to improve the overall practice costs for dentists.

What is your goal for Kerr moving forward?
My goal for Kerr is simple: If you were to wake a customer from his or her sleep at two o’clock in the morning and ask, “Who’s the premier restorative company in dental?,” I’d like their immediate response to be Kerr. (Laughs)

I guess what I’m trying to say is, if we continue to listen to our customers, invest in our people and commit to product innovation, we will be known as the premier restorative company in dental, even in the middle of the night.

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