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Dental Products Maker Sybron Moving to Anaheim Next Year

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Dental products maker Sybron Dental Specialties Inc. is moving its base from Orange to Anaheim next year.

“We should be over there—all of us finally—by the end of next year,” said Daniel Even, president of Sybron, a unit of Danaher Corp., a Washington, D.C. conglomerate known for Craftsman tools sold at Sears.

Even: opening learning center was “a dream of mine”

The move has been a long time coming. Sybron signed a 10-year lease for space in Anaheim in 2007 because it was outgrowing its longtime home on Collins Avenue in Orange.

The Anaheim space totals 166,868 square feet, compared to Sybron’s 102,000 square feet in Orange.

The company, which makes braces, bands, crowns, elastics, dental implants and root canal and other products, has found uses for its Anaheim space as it awaits the arrival of Even, other executives and employees.

It opened a continuing education center earlier this year in Anaheim to promote the use of its products. The center offers programs on dental implants, root canals, restorative dentistry and orthodontics and other topics.

Courses are taught by dentists who are “passionate about our products,” Even said.

The center includes a surgery suite, a 50-person laboratory with an adjoining observation room and an X-ray room with various types of imaging equipment.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to have a top-notch teaching facility, but we’ve just never had the space,” Even said.

The Anaheim building, which is near Disneyland, has enough room for Sybron for the next five years, including the learning center, Even said.

He said he couldn’t give a specific amount Sybron has invested in the learning center.

Sybron, which has annual sales of about $1 billion, expects to get “quite a bit of new business out of the work that’s being done out of the learning center.”

Sybron’s Anaheim building was built in 1965 and was renovated in 1984. It long was the headquarters of Odetics Inc., a onetime aerospace company that later mutated into an incubator of other businesses before fading away.

Sybron plans to keep some operations in its Orange building, which it’s been in since the mid-1990s. Manufacturing, distribution and information technology units are set to stay in Orange, according to Even.

Sybron employs some 400 people in Orange County and 3,000 to 4,000 globally.

The company has nine different businesses. They include Kerr Dental, which makes restorative dental materials and devices used in root canals, and Ormco, a maker of orthodontic supplies such as bracket braces, bands, crowns and elastics.

Competitors include Minnesota’s 3M Co., another diversified company that has an estimated 200 workers at its 3M Espe Dental Products unit in Irvine. Other rivals include Switzerland’s Nobel Biocare Holdings AG, which has 250 employees in Yorba Linda, York, Pa.-based Dentsply International Inc. and Sirona Dental Systems Inc. of Long Island City, N.Y.

Sybron tries to differentiate itself through product development and technology, according to Even. That includes feedback from what he called “a significant group” of dentists who come in and evaluate Sybron’s development efforts, he said.

Acquisitions

Acquisitions also are part of Sybron’s strategy.

Late last month, the company said it was buying a majority stake in Las Vegas-based Implant Direct International Inc., a maker of dental implants, for undisclosed terms. Last year, it bought Texas rotary dental instrument maker Axis Corp.

Sybron’s seen “a bit of a challenge” because of the economy’s twists and turns, Even said.

“Because a lot of dentistry is out-of-pocket and not reimbursed like on the insurance side medically, we’re at the mercy of unemployment and how high that is,” he said.

On Danaher’s recent quarterly earnings call, Chief Executive H. Lawrence Culp said Sybron’s “core sales grew at a low single-digit rate in the quarter.”

Strong sales in orthodontics and infection prevention were offset by lower sales of “general dental consumables” as distributors worked through supply on hand, Culp said.

“The inventory destocking issue is now behind us, and we expect to return to historical growth rates in the fourth quarter,” Culp told analysts and investors.

Danaher is set to start breaking out financials for its dental businesses in the first quarter, according to Even.

Danaher’s dental businesses also include Germany’s KaVo group, a separately run dental equipment business.

Sybron is expecting to see growth from a settlement of a long-running patent lawsuit with rival Align Technology Inc. of Santa Clara.

As part of the settlement, Align and Sybron are working together on braces to treat complicated cases of crooked teeth.

“It’s still too early to make any comment, but we are working together with them on future product development and are very pleased with our collaboration at this point,” Even said.

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