Interview with the MD
Karen Turner joined Nova Instruments as Managing Director in 2006, bringing with her a wealth of experience in the dental industry working for internationally renowned manufacturers and dealers. Nova is the house brand of Dentafix, which over many years has established an enviable reputation providing "private label" dental instruments for some of the industry's leading retailers to brand under their own identities. To grow the business, Dentafix embarked on creating a new marque: Nova Instruments.
With Karen's appointment nearing its fourth anniversary, we thought it would be an ideal opportunity to ask her about the company's plans to develop both its profile and product range.
Karen, Dentafix was already well-established in the UK market. Why did you decide to launch the Nova Instruments range?
We produce instruments that are renowned for their high quality and long life. But there is a lot of price-based competition from overseas in the dental instruments market, especially from the Sub-continent and Far East. We needed to raise our game and build a new brand that would stand for quality, and compete in terms of genuine value for money - this was a segment of the global market that presented a major opportunity.
So how do Nova products differ from the competition?
Our products stand favourable comparison against those from some of the world's leading instrument suppliers with an aggressive pricing policy to match. That doesn't mean we cut corners in production; we build Nova instruments to last, so every product that leaves the manufacturing facility has been produced to the same meticulous standard that has made Dentafix what it is today - the best of British craftmanship. We select the highest quality European stainless steel so our customers can be sure that instruments will stay the course and maintain their hardness and sharpness throughout their working lives. After manufacture through our precision engineering process, instruments are finished by hand to ensure they meet our high standards.
How difficult has it been to expand Nova's global presence given the economic challenges of the last 18 months?
It has certainly been a challenge at times. When we launched Nova the global economy was healthy, with little indication of the turbulence ahead. But we were in a good position; we had broad coverage which meant we were insulated to a degree, and we didn't have all our eggs in one basket. And if you add to this the fact that both Public and Private Sector demand has remained buoyant, especially in some of our stronger territories such as the Middle East and Asia Pacific, it puts us in an excellent position.
You've also introduced a new product range.
I think it is important for Nova to keep innovating and evolve our products in order to offer our customers a competitive advantage. One good example is our restorative range with ultra-smooth Titanium Nitride coated tips for composite materials. Now we are very enthusiastic about the potential of our new resin handled range. They are designed to be very easy to grip and lightweight to hold, around 11 grammes, and there are over 160 instruments in that range from explorers to scalers. The tips are the same high quality heat treated stainless steel as in our metal and silicone handle instruments. We learnt from developing our silicone handles that dentists and hygienists like a variety of colours - it sometimes makes it simpler to pick out the instrument they need from a crowded tray - so we've produced the resin handles in seven different pastel shades that will complement any modern surgery.
How do customers buy Nova products?
We sell through a dedicated network of dealers throughout the world, and as that network grows so does our international status. We are currently engaged in a very active recruitment campaign and will shortly be announcing partnerships in new territories, but I cannot say any more at the moment. A case of watch this space!
What attracts a dealer to take on the Nova range?
With the standard of competition out there, we're not naive enough to believe dealers will adopt Nova simply because of the brand! But dealers are not attracted by margin alone, and we believe we offer our partners a level of support that sets us apart.
What does that include?
Logistical and marketing support across the board. This includes comprehensive sales training programmes and exhibition support. We have also established a dealers-only section of the website that provides access to off-the-shelf advertising collateral that can be easily tailored, as well as a comprehensive image library of our product range. And we're always thinking about how we can improve our support further.
Where does your new website fit into this?
It's an integral part. We have been conscious that in the majority of instances, the web will be the first port of call for end-user customers looking to find out more about us. With our entire catalogue now online, a wealth of information and a dealer directory, we now feel we have a website that matches our ambition. It's the hub of our information generation and distribution.
And you're also out and about a lot?
Yes, it's essential to keep spreading the word about Nova and our products. We value face-to-face contact so we make the time to exhibit Nova at major dental shows across the globe. In 2009 alone you could have seen us at the DTA Preview Show in Chicago, USA; Bulmedica/Buldental in Sofia, Bulgaria; and the FDI Annual World Dental Congress in Singapore. We also have an active schedule for visiting our customers for business reviews and developing relationships, and, of course, to get their feedback. This certainly keeps us on our toes, and helps us identify any new areas where we may be able to develop additional product lines.
Karen, thank you very much.