The Founding of a Dental Company- Part 2

JPH NAVY“A Young Start”

In the first segment of my telling of the history of the founding of Dental Ventures of America, Inc., I mentioned how “happenstance” can impact one’s future. Such an occurrence was crucial in Jerry’s having become involved in dentistry. Upon graduation from high school in Fresno, California, Jerry wanted to be the first individual in his family to attend college. However, finding himself far short of having the financial support system to have that happen, he decided to forego his wish to further his education at that time, and instead opted to fulfill his military obligation by joining the U.S. Navy.
During his enlistment procedures, he was told he was qualified to go to any technical school he might request, and asked which area of training he would Jerrys navy piclike to pursue. Having no actual idea, but having heard many stories from his three Irish-American uncles, who had all served in the Pacific campaigns during WWII. Jerry didn’t relish going to sea. With this factor in play, the young 17-year old merely asked his experienced enlistment officer which guys he didn’t care for. (as in, “Were jealous of?”) “Dental Technicians,” the officer replied, “they have it made! They always get to sleep on large beds, get to wear civilian clothes all the time, never have to stand watches during the night, get cars on the base, and seldom have to go to sea!” Need we guess which Navy technical school Jerry informed the officer he wanted to attend? Not only did the future Founder of Dental Ventures of America become a Dental Technician, he also went on to a second school to become a Navy Prosthetic Technician. There he learned that the enlistment officer was indeed correct!
Following his military service, Jerry trained himself to fabricate orthodontic appliances and opened a small lab in Covina, California, to support his university studies for the next eight years. Interesting though, that while he had been in the business world, Jerry never prepared himself for that area of activity; during all of those years of study, he never enrolled in one business course!
One day, Jerry took it upon himself to pay a visit to the largest manufacturer of orthodontic products to pick up an order he had placed with them. While he was there, thought he, why not take it upon himself to share his thoughts about the company’s lack of marketing their “fine products!” After sharing his words of inexperienced wisdom, regarding Unitek’s (now part of 3M) “obvious failures” at marketing, etc.. A week or so later, Unitek called him and offered him a position to improve things! So began the future Founder’s commercial dental career. Though he knew nothing about, had no experience, and no educational background regarding the mission to which he had been invited; namely, “Get Unitek, the largest manufacturers of orthodontic products (at the time) into the dental laboratory business!” So began the commercial experience of my husband!
More “Happenstance!” A scary position; but a great opportunity for growth and success!
But without any preparation, how was he going to succeed? (Check back for more…)