Solaris Press Release 1

Solaris Press Release

 

Ambitious Growth Plan Pays Off for Solaris Dental Solutions

In 2006, Aurum Prosthetics, an eight-employee, full service lab in Stoney Creek, ON, was doing well, and Co-Owners Frank Molon and Gino Marino were ready to take things to the next level. But like many lab owners looking to grow, their expertise was on the technical side of the business and they needed some direction.

Enter Gary Molinaro, Molon's childhood friend who had recently left his job in corporate sales and marketing. Molinaro came aboard as a consultant and, after months of market research, he made some realizations: "While the laboratory was known for its high quality, few people beyond our 15-mile radius knew about us," says Molinaro. "I also felt we'd have more success by focusing on higher-end dentists who are looking for top-level service, and we had to capture their attention."

Molinaro came up with an ambitious plan for growth, including completely rebranding the laboratory, acquiring some smaller laboratories, moving into a new facility and creating an education center. Molon and Marino were on board, and the three became partners in the new venture, Solaris Dental Solutions, with the existing partners handling the technical side of the business and Molinaro spearheading sales and marketing.

They let their existing clients know about the transition and slowly began to rebrand the laboratory with the new Solaris name. For instance, for the first six months, both logos appeared on the lab's statements and other literature and then the Aurum name was phased out.

Molinaro began an aggressive marketing campaign to acquire the high-end dentists the lab was now targeting. Using about $50,000 of the partners' personal savings, he worked with an outside company to create a professional, four-color laboratory portfolio featuring before-and-after photos; placed ads in dental magazines; conducted office visits; and wrapped the lab's delivery cars with the Solaris logo.

In order to network with area dentists and further spread the Solaris name, they also joined several industry associations, including the Dental Industry Association of Canada and the Niagara Peninsula Dental Association. "It's been a great way to connect with dentists," says Molinaro. "There's no better testimonial than when a client is recommending you to one of his peers while you're standing right next to him."

The partners also began looking for labs to acquire and, over the course of six years, they acquired two small local labs within a 50-mile radius, keeping both the separate locations and staffs intact and ultimately rebranding those labs with the Solaris name.

The marketing paid off and, as the lab's workload grew, it hired six more technicians. By 2012 it was ready to move into phase two of the plan: creating a new laboratory and education center.

Solaris Gets a New Home

This past March, after a three-month, $200,000 renovation of a former warehouse, Solaris moved into a leased 11,000-sq-ft facility in Stoney Creek that features wood floors, sliding glass doors, KaVo benches, high-tech education rooms, a fully equipped kitchen and even a spacious reception area with an espresso bar.

This state-of-the-art facility serves as Solaris' main "hub," with the newly acquired labs serving as satellite locations, allowing Solaris to offer convenient, local services—like custom shades—to dentists in those areas.

This past March, after a three-month, $200,000 renovation of a former warehouse, Solaris moved into a leased 11,000-sq-ft facility in Stoney Creek that features wood floors, sliding glass doors, KaVo benches, high-tech education rooms, a fully equipped kitchen and even a spacious reception area with an espresso bar.

The lab's 5,500-sq-ft education center is also proving to be a valuable marketing tool. "So far, we've held 10 courses here and manufacturers like Henry Schein and Straumann are using it for their meetings as well," says Molinaro. "We've had about 200 dentists come through our doors; it would take a salesperson a year to get in and see that many clients."

The changes have proven to be a real boon to business. Since 2006, the lab's sales have grown from $1.4 million to $7 million and the laboratory has its eye on even more expansion: it's adding another 2,500-sq-ft production area to its new facility and is in the process of acquiring two more laboratories.