Publisher's Letter: No One Succeeds Alone
As the owner of the world’s largest dental laboratory, I’m often asked by dental professionals for my insights on achieving success. Personally, I’ve never felt extraordinary — when it comes down to it, I’m just one man, no better and no worse than anyone else. But I’ve always surrounded myself with great people — clear thinkers who can help me overcome limitations. And I have benefited from some great mentors at critical junctures in my career.
After graduating high school, I enlisted in the Navy and served a tour of duty during the Vietnam War. Once I returned home to Las Vegas, I reconnected with a high school friend named Rex Frehner who was working as a successful dental technician.
The profession immediately piqued my interest. Where else could I create something with my own hands that would provide a true improvement to customers’ lives and also help me and my family achieve financial security? Rex was quick to dispel my illusions about the profession. It wasn’t as simple as that: Most technicians quickly bombed out. He encouraged me to go get my associate degree in dental technology in California, though he repeatedly reinforced that the education alone wasn’t enough. To succeed, I would need to do more than just show up to class — I would need to truly master the material and graduate at the top of my class. Rex was right. In the lab industry, you can be “fired” by your dentist customers after just one bad case. In those early days of my career, mastery was the bare minimum for survival.
While still in technician school in Southern California, I started working for Dr. Bill Stanley. He challenged me from the first day onward, making me acknowledge how little I was actually learning in school and repeatedly forcing me to do things over. I was very fortunate to work with him as he was a talented technician himself. Unfortunately, months later he had to move his practice due to financial constraints, and I was left to strike out on my own. One of my first customers was Dr. Bob Hubbert, a dentist who upon seeing my work ethic and ability began introducing me to other dentists. After I had a handful of customers, Dr. Hubbert encouraged me to secure a larger space so that I could truly start my own independent laboratory business.
Mentors like Rex, Dr. Stanley and Dr. Hubbert were critical to my success. They recognized something within me, forcing me to grow my skills and confront my own limitations. My career would certainly be very different without their early guidance. For those who are set on achieving success in life or in business, I’d encourage you to surround yourself with clear thinkers who won’t sugarcoat advice.
Jim Glidewell, CDT
Founder and President, Glidewell