Interview with Walter Esinger, Executive Managing Director BEGO Implant Systems, Bremen, Germany
The concentration in the dental industry through takeovers and mergers continues. BEGO Implant Systems is one of the few remaining independent medium-sized German companies in the industry. Will this remain so?
As you know, we dealt very intensively with the topic of an “strategic investor” for BEGO Implant Systems last year. Ultimately, we decided to plan our future “independently”. In making this decision, we took particular account of our responsibility to our employees and customers.
Which company philosophy is at the basis of your market strategies? Is it more important for a well-established company to stay true to its philosophy or must it adapt to changes in the industry?
I think it’s wrong and dangerous to ignore market changes. By this, I also mean global market changes that have arisen as a result of various political developments and that place great demands on us today and will do so in the future. Another very important point I would like to mention is the development of the dental market from small practices to dental care centers, hospital chains, and dental service organizations. Today, many of our customers are no longer the sole decision-makers but are organized in professional buying centres. Sales talks, as we have successfully conducted them until now are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. We are therefore challenged to merge our company philosophy of “affordable and high-quality dental implant solutions made in Germany” with the requirements of dynamically changing markets. But I am firmly convinced that we will continue to succeed in this regard in the future.
The markets of the future are primarily in Asia and South America. Is your company positioned to take this development into account? What are your top-selling markets?
We have been very well positioned in Asia for over ten years now. With our long-standing sales partner in China, we have joined the group of market leaders and have been ranked among the top 5 suppliers there for years. With a market share of over 30 per cent in the value segment, we are even the market leader here. In addition to Taiwan, we are also successful in Thailand, Indonesia and other smaller markets.
We have great respect for entering the Japanese market and have taken this country off our hit list for the time being. After starting in South Korea, we quickly realized that we would not be able to assert ourselves against a big competition there. We are still observing developments in South America. No decision has yet been made on market entry. In South America, we see great challenges in the current price positioning of dental implants, because pricing there is currently incompatible with our value approach.
Are there any efforts concerning the forthcoming MDR to join forces with other German medium-sized companies or does the MDR even protect the German market against imports from non-European manufacturers?
A core element of MDR compliance is the company’s documented quality management system. In fulfilling MDR compliance, cooperation with other medium-sized companies does not lead us any further. Which means that we are forced to solve the challenges with our own staff and with external cooperation partners and consultants by May 2020.
I cannot assess conclusively to what extent MDR protects the German market from import activities. What worries us all is the hesitant process of accrediting the more than 50 active Notified Bodies. Less than 30 have submitted the accreditation documents and only four have received accreditation to date. The future might become dramatic for manufacturers whose Notified Body will not receive MDR accreditation until May 2020. Indeed, products may still to be sold without technical modifications until 2024, but it nevertheless dampens the innovative strength, which is essentially borne by small and medium-sized enterprises. I don’t even want to talk about the necessity and the challenge of trying to find another certified Notified Body. Fortunately, we cooperate with a Notified Body, which will most likely receive accreditation very soon.
The buzzword “digital workflow” is a must today, too. Can you briefly explain in what way BEGO Implant Systems is at the forefront here?
We started marketing this topic at IDS 2017. We can already support the digital workflow with many outstanding isolated applications, such as pre-surgical planning, 3D template production and individual (CAD/CAM) prosthetics in cooperation with BEGO Medical and our laboratory network.
In order to better serve the increasing market requirements, we are in the process of translating the solutions into a coherent process. Of course, we are also dependent on cooperation partners such as manufacturers of intraoral scanners and internally on BEGO Medical. With a degree of fulfillment of over 90 %, we are very well positioned and can already offer our customers a very good overall package.
Thank you very much for the informative insights, Mr Esinger.