September 12, 2012

Gilbert Achermann Addresses the ITI General Assembly

At the 2012 ITI AGM, Straumann’s Chairman of the Board of Directors and Member of the ITI Board of Trustees Gilbert Achermann took the opportunity to address the Fellows present. Below is an extract from his speech.

"Our industry is contending with unprecedented challenges that have destroyed the strong growth we enjoyed in the past. In particular we are battling against a cyclical headwind that brought financial crisis in 2008 followed by recessions and economic turmoil.

At the same time, the dental industry has undergone structural change, with the emergence of three distinct segments: premium, value, and low-cost, and we now operate in a very different marketplace. In addition, currency exchange rates have reached record levels to the disadvantage of companies domiciled in countries like Switzerland, Sweden and Japan also.

The present situation has squeezed Straumann’s growth almost completely and today we are happy if we achieve growth in low single digits. This has weighed heavily on our margins because we have honored our commitment to research, development and education.

A significant contribution to our success over the past 32 years has come through our relationship with the ITI. This is unique and extremely important to us. The strength and value of relationships – private and commercial – are only proven by challenges. There are two key factors in our relationship: independence and loyalty. The ITI needs a certain degree of independence while Straumann expects the greatest possible loyalty from ITI Fellows and Members. Our relationship has been so successful because we have been able to balance the two, and I am confident that we can continue to do so going forward.

Building on what Professor Buser said yesterday at the Section leadership meeting, we need you as the ITI to take a strong stand against false claims in the market, to support evidence-based dentistry and products. We have never insisted that you use Straumann’s products and I believe it would be wrong to do so – it would be against your mindset and the nature of our collaboration. However, we really do not appreciate anyone working with manufacturers who make unsubstantiated claims.

In terms of cost-benefit, there needs to be a balance. The ITI is not a profit driven organization; Straumann however is. Fortunately, we have always been able to manage this dichotomy and I am sure we will continue to do so. We would appreciate all the support you can give us, in particular ITI Officers and Fellows.

What can the ITI expect from Straumann? Consistency. We have one of the most consistent track records in our industry. In the 14 years that I have served with the company, our underlying principles and values have not changed. Neither has our philosophy – which is why we have become the global leader. Looking ahead, I can assure you that we will stick to our core beliefs, but it is no use if we walk the moral high ground alone: others have to walk with us.

Your loyalty is vital and we rely on it. We want to help you prosper and we need your support so we, too, can prosper. In education your support is magnificent. But we also need you to champion clinical excellence on the podium, raising awareness that it differentiates products. We also need your voice. Right now, we need it most in Japan, where negative media coverage has misled the population into thinking that implant dentistry is ‘dangerous and unproven’. This is utter nonsense – but it has to be refuted publicly by respected opinion leaders, experts and authorities. So, we need your advocacy to establish implant dentistry as the recognized standard of care. On behalf of Straumann I would like to thank you for all your efforts in these respects – past, present and future.

Indeed, we look forward to a successful, mutual future. Despite the uncertainties, I am convinced that together we will win through."

ITI International Team for Implantology
ITI Headquarters
Peter Merian-Strasse 88
4052 Basel

Phone +41 61 270 83 83
Fax +41 61 270 83 84

ITI International Team for Implantology | Peter Merian-Strasse 88 | 4052 Basel | Switzerland | Phone +41 61 270 83 83 | Fax +41 61 270 83 84 |