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In this interview, we talk to Peter Hackel and Virginia Hochstetter of Straumann, the Chief Financial Officer and Head of Sustainability respectively.
This is at the heart of how Straumann Group, a global leader in tooth replacement and orthodontic solutions that restore smiles and confidence, sees itself.
Peter Hackel, Chief Financial Officer, says “Sustainability is an integral part of the business strategy and it is also driven by the people themselves.” He adds “We want to achieve 10 million smiles per year by 2030 and during that strategy development we have defined our strategic compass, and one of the most important initiatives is driving our high-performance culture in a sustainable way.”
These commitments the Group is making, whether it is advancing oral care and creating those 10 million smiles, caring for the planet and society, empowering people or acting with responsibility, apply to every pillar of the business. So how does Straumann Group actually achieve this whilst saving the bottom line, in other words making money?
Peter Hackel sees no dilemma at all. “We need to stop thinking that sustainability is a constraint, we need to see it as an opportunity.” He enthuses “If we are able to produce more sustainable products, for example if we are able to offer a green implant and we can differentiate ourselves from the competition, it’s an opportunity, and obviously we could grow and generate turnover.”
That isn’t icing on the cake, that’s the cake itself!
The Group has formed a sustainability taskforce at board level. Launched about a year ago by the Chairman Gilbert Achermann, its mission was to make the company a role model for sustainability in the dental industry.
Another ingredient is the Materiality Assessment, which talks to people outside the organisation. “It is essential. We wanted to learn what is important for our stakeholders, for our customers, for our employees, for our investors, and key opinion leaders,” says Peter.
The strategy is also backed up by very practical action. “Learn in a box” is one such initiative, and there are many more. As Virginia Hochstetter explains: “Because of this pandemic the hands on courses and the physical courses were cancelled, so you were not able to attend.” She adds “By shifting the materials to the participants, [it] gave access to people to education.” This led to more participants being able to access the course, which of course helps the business too. “We used the opportunity to go for a new kind of packaging,” says Virginia, “It requires less water, less emissions, and it is cheaper!”
What’s more, the packaging that contains the artificial jaw and implants for the trainees to work on is made of grass! Water consumption is reduced to two litres per ton of grass paper from a whopping 5,000 litres for ordinary paper, using 75% less CO2.
It is also assembled by people with a handicap, adding to Straumann Group’s social outreach and help in the community, all part of sustainability.
There is still plenty of face-to-face training, but this is making a big difference!
Of course, any cake has to taste good too! The Straumann Group tickles the taste buds by growing! The Group is enjoying a double digit growth rate and this is global, with recent investments for example in the US, China and Switzerland.
“The nice thing is that when we start such a new project, we consider sustainability right from the beginning.” He goes on: “You see about 70% of our Capex, which is on an annual basis about 90 to 100 million Swiss Francs, we are investing in our manufacturing sites to enlarge capacity, so it’s significant.”
Straumann Group also encourages a “player learner” mindset. Give it a go, risk failure, learn all the time, be encouraged.
That’s a pretty tasty cake!