Every vision has its story. Straumann’s began more than 60 years ago. Since then, their innovations and achievements have become landmarks in dentistry worldwide. Straumann began as a family-owned business, grew into a publicly owned holding, and today, is comprised of a number of international companies around the world.
The story of the Hungarian Branch of Straumann, which researches and develops, manufactures and supplies dental implants, instruments, etc., began over a decade ago when the company decided to set up its own subsidiary in this country. “When that decision was made by the company to establish its own office and warehouse in Hungary and I joined the company, we started with a significant market disadvantage,” Country Manager Zsolt Fehérvári explains to Diplomacy&Trade.
“Straumann did not have a good image here, so, it was not even from zero but from minus that I had to start to build,” he adds. After the first few years full of difficulties, seven successful years followed with the Hungarian branch showing unbroken development, producing double-digit growth in each of these years.
Scope of activities
The history of the Straumann family business dates back to the 1950s when it specialized in alloys used in timing instruments and in materials testing. Among Straumann's renowned inventions in this period were special alloys that are still used in watch springs today. A breakthrough in the use of non-corroding alloys for treating bone fractures prompted Dr Fritz Straumann to enter the fields of orthopedics and dental implantology.
Zsolt Fehérvári highlights that the company had long been present in the premium category of dental implants only. (Currently, about 30% of the global market can be considered premium category.) Although, Straumann is market
leader in the implant segment, it is only in 7th place in the overall dental market. Therefore, the company was challenged to enter the non-premium implants category and other dental products, as well, to improve its business in general. As a result, the Straumann Group was formed following the acquisition of several firms of different dental profiles. One of the most significant of these acquisitions was that of the Brazilian implant production company ‘Neodent’ in 2012. Neodent produces high-quality implant systems at an affordable price.
“With that acquisition, we entered to the non-premium segment, but we are now also present in the digital dental technology area, which is a very rapidly and intensively developing segment. In the latter sector, Straumann acquired the Canadian company ‘Dental Wings’ that produces software and actual pieces of equipment. Straumann® CARES® Digital Solutions is our comprehensive and flexible digital offering. It is dedicated to our customers’ specific needs and to making their daily practice life easier, more efficient, more predictable and more profitable.” the Country Manager says.
However, that is not the entire portfolio offered by the Straumann Group. In addition to implant systems and related prosthetics (through the acquisition of a German company), there is orthodontics by way of the production of ‘clear aligner’ (by acquiring the American firm ClearCorrrect) and collaborating with manufacturers of biomaterials, basically covering the entire dental field and offering solutions ‘from roots to crowns’.
Development through innovation
Straumann implants and solutions have earned their reputation thanks to Swiss precision and the company’s achievement resulting from its research and development activity. Zsolt Fehérvári notes that in this industry, it is Straumann that spends, by far, the most money on R&D. “We have implant materials, like the patented ‘Roxolid’, which is a titanium-zirconium alloy. For a long time, only Straumann offered hydrophilic-surface implant that speeds up healing and osseointegration. Before placing a new product on the market, the company puts it through licensing processes (like animal testing and laboratory examinations) equivalent to those applied in the pharmaceutical industry.”
The impact of the pandemic
“In the early days of March when I received the latest numbers from all the countries Straumann is present in, I was shocked by what I saw on the Chinese market (the fourth most important one for Straumann): 90% down in February compared to the same month of the previous year. That made us suspect that the situation would soon be similar in Hungary. The pandemic dealt an especially serious blow to the Hungarian operations of Straumann. Apart from Hungary, there was only one more European country where a complete shutdown of non-emergency dental care was ordered by the authorities. It meant that our turnover fell to zero overnight. Therefore, we went through a very difficult period. However, there was another factor, as well. Dental tourism is very significant in Hungary – with 50-60% of all implants sold in Hungary are estimated to be for patients coming from abroad,” he points out.
As for the current situation, Zsolt Fehérvári is happy to report that – following the lifting of the ban on non-emergency care – the July and August figures were very favorable, so much so that they exceeded the turnover of these months of 2019. “Unfortunately, this process is in reverse again with the government closing the country’s
borders. This is something we cannot do much about or prepare for…,” he adds.
Helping those in need
According to the Country Manager, Straumann is consistent in the field of corporate social responsibility. “There is a dentist whose foundation supports physically handicapped children and organizes programs for them. We are one of the supporters of the annual charity gala of this foundation. We also help in certain cases when patients with less resources are in dire need of dental solutions. There is a very important foundation being set up by several dentists aimed at helping people in the underdeveloped regions of Hungary. Straumann will participate in this project by providing dental care solutions to patients who cannot afford that,” Zsolt Fehérvári concludes.