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21 March 2022

Henry Schein, a true balance between social purpose and sustainable success in the Dental Industry

Interview Q&A with A.J. Caffentzis, President, U.S. Dental Distribution, Henry Schein Dental


1. Henry Schein is known in the industry for its commitment to “doing well by doing good.” How does the Company hold itself accountable to its various stakeholders? 

As a company with a “higher ambition,” we firmly believe that balancing our social purpose with our long-term financial goals will drive sustainable success, while also making a positive difference in the world. 

Over the course of nine decades, we have reinvented the organization to meet customer needs, taking advantage of new technologies and tapping into burgeoning markets. Through it all, we have remained focused on our efforts to drive innovation and build market share, while holding ourselves accountable to the five constituencies – customers, suppliers, shareholders, Team Schein Members, and society at large – that make up our “Mosaic of Success.” Our consistent track record in delivering solid operating results, along with our pipeline of future growth initiatives, significantly contributes to the company’s business achievements.

2. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the behaviors and expectations of dental professionals?  

Looking back to the earliest days of the pandemic when many of our customers were forced to close their doors, Henry Schein Dental was there to help practices navigate. We helped to address the complexities of winding down business, while staying engaged with their patients, triage patient safety and staff wellness concerns, understand and find solutions for never-before-seen financial challenges, and offer resources and guidance about the viability of their businesses. 

Over the past two years, we’ve been keenly aware of how industry has changed and the how the new realities have rapidly altered the dental professions. What we are seeing is that the pandemic, however, has accelerated them greatly.

Practices are more willing to adopt new technologies and experiment with digital tools as they look for new ways to improve the patient experience and withstand external pressures. 

Across the dental industry, we see new partnerships being formed as parties look to leverage their expertise to unlock mutual value and meet the needs of patients in new and more effective ways.

Greater attention is being paid to the experience we provide to our customers and their patients, and how we measure, study, and respond to that feedback. 

The pandemic has brought new business pressures, creating a more imminent need across the industry to operate more efficiently and effectively, and differentiate ourselves from competitors.  

Throughout the pandemic, dental professionals have relied on Team Schein to stay connected with their patients, improve the patient experience, and strengthen their businesses. Our customers deserve the utmost recognition for persevering through enormous disruptions to their practices and their teams. They were and continue to be on the front lines of this pandemic and it has been humbling to support their efforts to advance health.

3. Today, companies are working diligently to improve their customer experience, especially in light of digital solutions, functional excellence, and real-time end-market implications. What is Henry Schein doing to address the evolving needs of customers? 

 We have implemented several initiatives to better understand the end-to-end journey of our customers’ interactions. Chief among them is our Henry Schein Voice of Customer (VoC) Program and our Customer Experience Council (CEC) The VoC program is designed to gather feedback directly from our customers across key moments in their journey with Henry Schein. In alignment with the Henry Schein CEC, which includes obtaining feedback from our employees – known as Team Schein Members – assess the needs, recommend potential solutions, and drive implementation of customer-centric improvements better and faster. The goal is to make it easier for customers to do business with us, and for our teams to support our customers even better than they do today. 

Our strategic plan emphasizes customer centricity – where our customers recognize that we provide the best experience in the industry, so they can focus on building their business caring for patients. To do this, our entire team must feel supported, engaged, and that we’re working together for the customer.

As we grow, it remains critical to retain the ‘customer-first’ attributes and attitude that the company was founded on and that have made us successful. 

4. The relationships connecting businesses with their customers and shareholders can be described as transactional and short-term, even impersonal. How has Henry Schein been able to build long-term, trust-based relationships with its customers? 

 We recognize that our customers’ needs have changed over the course of our 90-year history, but our commitment to creating an outstanding customer experience has never wavered – from our high-touch engagement to the valued solutions we offer to meet the unique needs of our customers. 

We also recognize that the distribution business is based on relationships, not transactions, and our team – comprised of Field Sales Consultants, Telesales, Equipment Sales, Service Technicians, Sales Support Representatives, Credit and Customer Service Representatives, and many more – have built long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with our customers. Our focus on meeting each customer’s unique needs is carried out by our more than 21,600 Team Schein Members on the front-line to those in our distribution centers, working every day to deliver value to our customers.  

Relationships with dental practitioners are the foundation of our business and span the entire life cycle of a practice. Our customers oftentimes know us from when they were in dental school, reflecting our commitment to training dentists and ensuring universities have state-of-the-art equipment and technology. In fact, 58% of our customers have done business with us for more than a decade.  

Because our Field Sales Consultants take care of the practice, so doctors can take care of the patient, our customers trust us. They know us and appreciate that we solve their daily problems while keeping their long-term interests in mind, a trust that can’t be replicated. We’ve built a business around being reliable: servicing a customer’s every need with a goal of placing nearly every order into a customer’s hands within 24 hours. 

We are committed to delivering an outstanding customer experience through constant process improvement, better efficiencies, and investment in tools and resources to support Team Schein Members serving our customers. While three simple words, “Rely on Us,” capture our implicit promise of customer value. They represent the scope of our solutions, the knowledge of our network, and the consistency in our supply chain excellence that results in relevant differentiation for our customers.

5. How has Henry Schein made customer success part of its overall culture? 

We believe that customer success is an outcome of creating value and a great customer experience. To achieve customer success, it’s important for our team to focus on understanding each customer’s goals and provide the guidance required to select the products, services, and solutions tailored to their individual needs. For this to be effective, we work together, as One Schein, to ensure we are providing a great experience at every interaction and touchpoint, from discovery to purchase, service, support, and beyond.

For example, when an equipment or technology failure occurs in the practice that might interrupt the ability to treat patients, our customers want help, and they want it fast. Our rapid response is imperative to differentiating us in the marketplace and improving the experience a customer has when working with us. In response, we launched the Henry Schein ServiceFirst Technical Advisor Line in 2020, which serves as a dedicated hotline to give customers quick access to technical support. Our Technical Advisor Line is staffed by knowledgeable and skilled technicians – with more than 175 combined years of experience – certified in major dental equipment (from a variety of manufacturers), including X-rays, 2D and 3D digital imaging, intraoral and cone beam technology, and mechanical room equipment. 

Henry Schein Technical Advisors work remotely to resolve issues and diagnose equipment problems to get our customers’ practices up and running to reduce interruption of patient care. To date, our Technical Advisors have fielded more than 7,680 customer calls, with nearly 20%  of the issues completely resolved without the need for an in-person visit. 

We have built our business to succeed in the long-term, and the strategic decisions we make are guided by that imperative. Our customers’ success is our success. It’s most gratifying to receive feedback that reinforces our commitment. We don't do what we do for the accolades but when we hear “the service techs are so helpful and provide amazing customer service,” Henry Schein is “easy to work with, good customer service,” or “our rep makes our entire experience with Henry Schein top notch," it only strengthens our resolve to do even better.  We will continue to invest for the long run, supported by the extraordinary dedication and personal ethics of our Team Schein Members.

About Anthony Caffentzis

Anthony “AJ” Caffentzis joined Henry Schein in 2016 as Vice President, North America Dental Group Strategic Initiatives, and was charged with fostering synergies and growth opportunities across the North American Dental businesses.  In this role, AJ was responsible for developing and implementing programs that supported the North America Dental Group’s vision, short-term goals, and long-term strategies. In 2017, AJ expanded his role to lead the Special Markets and Mid-Market business, which is focused on multi-site operations. In 2018, AJ assumed his current role of President, U.S. Dental Distribution. 

As a Commercial Leader within the company’s recently formed North America Distribution Group, AJ continues to focus on advancing “One Schein” by fostering Team Schein collaboration and deployment of the company’s unique portfolio in a unified, integrated manner to help drive customer success and differentiate Henry Schein from others in the market. 

Prior to joining Henry Schein, AJ had 30 years of experience in Sales, Marketing, Operations, and Strategy roles. Most recently, AJ was President of Community & Specialty Pharmacy, a $100 billion business for AmerisourceBergen, a global pharmaceutical sourcing and distribution services company. In his eight years at AmerisourceBergen, AJ held roles of increasing responsibility in Sales, Marketing and Management. Prior to that, AJ spent more than 20 years at Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) in Sales and Marketing leadership roles, including Vice President of Sales for J&J’s Consumer Products division.

About Henry Schein, Inc.

Henry Schein operates through a centralized and automated distribution network, with a selection of more than 120,000 branded products and Henry Schein private-brand products in stock, as well as more than 180,000 additional products available as special-order items. 

A FORTUNE 500 Company and a member of the S&P 500® index, Henry Schein is headquartered in Melville, N.Y., and has operations or affiliates in 32 countries and territories. The Company's sales reached $12.4 billion in 2021 and have grown at a compound annual rate of approximately 12.5 percent since Henry Schein became a public company in 1995.


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