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31 May 2012 | Australasian Dental Practice

news > Spectrum > Page 50

A success story "Made in Germany": 30 years of VOCO in Cuxhaven

Celebrations and milestones

VOCO, one of the best-known brands in dentistry, is celebrating a key milestone in 2012. Thirty years ago, the dental manufacturer was set up by Manfred Plaumann as a small family business in Cuxhaven, Germany, initially supplying a limited range of products to dental practices and laboratories. As the years passed, this was to change dramatically.

Thanks to on-going investment in research and development and steadily increasing sales, the company's range of products, distribution network and number of employees soon outgrew its humble beginnings.

In 1992, the business moved into new purpose-built facilities. And following two extensions in 1997 and 2005, the manufacturing plant grew to cover an area of 22,000 square metres.

VOCO now employs some 300 people in Germany, 250 of them at its headquarters in Cuxhaven. These are supplemented by over 320 sales representatives abroad. VOCO operates a representative office in Shanghai and there are branches in the USA, Canada, Brazil and Australia. The company's penetration of new markets has boosted sales considerably. In addition to Germany and the rest of Europe, the core markets for VOCO products these days include the USA and Canada.

VOCO supplies dentists around the world with high quality dental materials and is currently regarded as one of the world's leading manufacturers within the sector. VOCO remains a family business, with the second generation now at the helm. Its comprehensive portfolio of more than 100 products supplies dental practices and dental laboratories in over 120 countries with medicinal products and medical devices "Made in Germany" for prophylactic, restorative and prosthetic dentistry.

VOCO is a company with a pronounced international focus and exports make up 75 percent of total sales. The company's presence at more than 200 exhibitions and conferences around the world is a logical extension.

All VOCO preparations are developed, manufactured and assembled at the company headquarters in Cuxhaven. Back in 1994, VOCO was one of the first German dental manufacturers to establish a certified quality management system. All stages in the development and manufacturing process are subject to strict monitoring. VOCO is thus able to guarantee consistently high standards of both safety and quality and is certified according to EN ISO 9001, EN ISO 13485 and MDD 93/42 EEC - Annex II and also complies with Germany's Medicines Act and US FDA legislation.

The wide range of high quality products covering a whole spectrum of different dental indications is the result of intensive research and development, sometimes over many years. At VOCO, such work has always been a priority and frequently takes place in cooperation with external partners. The company nurtures close links with over 150 universities and other prestigious research institutes around the world. Together, they test VOCO products for safety and performance. The results of these tests, not to mention discussions with colleagues from leading university and institute dental research units about new treatment concepts and the associated material systems, provide the VOCO research team with crucial findings concerning the development of innovative dental products.

The expertise of VOCO scientists is also appreciated at the highest level. VOCO has, for instance, already played a leading role in several dental research projects conducted by the Bundesministerium fur Bildung und Forschung (BMBF - Federal Ministry of Education and Research). Other partners involved in these projects included the Fraunhofer Institut fur Silicatforschung ISC (Wurzburg), the Institut fur Biomedizinische Technik at Rostock University and the Medizinische Hochschule in Hanover. New material systems and innovative products were the result - thanks to VOCO's own research expertise and its close cooperation with high-powered partners. With these partners, VOCO has already set several new standards for the development of modern dental preparations.

When it comes to product innovation, VOCO has always been one of the pioneers of the dental sector. Take Admira, for instance, the first Ormocer-based filling system. In addition to its strength and appearance, Admira is characterised by an extremely high degree of biocompatibility. In 2003, VOCO launched Grandio, the world's first ever nano hybrid composite. Thanks to its excellent material and processing properties, Grandio has quickly become one of the most successful universal filling materials on the international market. VOCO went on to reassert its innovative dominance with GrandioSO, which was released in 2010. GrandioSO is a universal nano hybrid composite which, owing to the sum of its physical parameters, is generally regarded as one of the most toothlike composites on the market. VOCO has also taken a consistently ground-breaking approach to packaging concepts and application technology. Patented special designs, such as the practical SingleDose blister or the non-dripping NDT syringe, enable the preparations to be applied in a particularly simple, efficient and hygienic manner.

VOCO maintains close contact with external research in other ways as well. For nine years, the dental manufacturer has held its VOCO Dental Challenge research contest. The intention is to foster and motivate young scientists involved in dental work. VOCO thus plays a role in maintaining the research environment in Germany, while simultaneously acquiring valuable suggestions as to the improvement and development of products. The VOCO Dental Challenge therefore occupies a central position when it comes to investing in the future of the company.

In future, VOCO will be intensifying its focus on the development and marketing of innovative dental materials. As the workforce grows, so does the product portfolio of this medium-sized family-owned company. Every year, VOCO launches new products. Often these include products for special indications, designed with the particular needs of dentists in mind, which are seen as "problem solvers". In addition to their excellent material and processing properties, it is this aspect in particular which explains the success of VOCO. "VOCO is a brand name which is associated the world over with top quality products. Dentists around the globe request our products, because they know that we supply high quality products at a fair price," said managing director Olaf Sauerbier, responsible for sales and marketing. And the managing director responsible for research and development, Manfred Thomas Plaumann, adds, "As dentalists - that is specialists in dental materials - we at VOCO will continue to focus on innovation, expertise and customer proximity in the future - for the next chapter in this 'Made in Germany' success story."

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