Over the past few decades, Young Innovations has evolved from a small, family-owned manufacturer of preventive dental products into a growing oral health care company.
1900 - 1961
Dental office circa 1912.
Young Dental started manufacturing dental products in the early 1900s. It was just one of several small companies making instruments and supplies for the dental profession, which at that time was still in its infancy, just a few years past an age when dentistry and barberry were synonymous enterprises. Over the next half century, though, the company garnered an excellent reputation for making reliable instruments.
1961 - 1967
The modern history of Young Innovations, Inc. began in 1961, when George Richmond purchased Young Dental and quickly began changing its focus to making preventive dentistry products, chiefly the prophy polishing angle, an instrument used in hygienic dentistry. Richmond actually bought the company from his mother. At the time, the firm had only seven employees and annual sales of $61,000. It was already a long established company and hardly seemed positioned or destined for growth. That was about to change.
Although it remained a small company, in a very fragmented industry, Young kept pace with the evolution of dentistry by working with academic clinicians and practicing dentists to identify problems in the profession. As it does today, Young used its design and manufacturing capabilities to then help solve those problems.
1968 - 1989
Dental office circa 1980.
In 1968, seven years after Richmond bought the company, Young began marketing its Triple Seal prophy angle. Unlike other prophy angles in use at the time, the Triple Seal angle did not show any significant eroding effects from the abrasive polish used in cleaning teeth. It was also made to hold up under repeated sterilizations, almost indefinitely. Although significantly more expensive than prophy angles sold by competitors, the durable Triple Seal angle quickly gained a leading share in its U.S. market sector, thanks to its high quality and durability.
Still, for the next two decades, Young grew very slowly. It kept its focus on preventive dentistry, which the dental profession itself began stressing more and more. Meanwhile, companies that would later play significant roles in the growth of Young got their start.
1989 - 1996
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, public awareness and concern about infectious diseases, including AIDS, became a critical concern of the dental profession and helped ignite a major increase in the number of subscribers to dental health plans. Between 1990 and 1994, that number more than doubled, growing from 7.8 million to 18.4 million. Among others, Young took an active role in establishing standards for infection control in dental care procedures. The new public and professional concern helped boost the sale of the company's metal Triple Seal prophy angle, primarily because of the angle's durability and design. It also led to a new product, when in 1990, Young introduced a disposable Triple Seal angle. The new single-use angle quickly garnered a major share of its particular market, just as the company's older reusable Triple Seal angle had done a dozen years before. In fact, by the end of the decade, disposable prophy angles would become the largest source of the company's revenue.
The success of Young's prophy angles fueled the company's growth and put it in a financial position both to expand and to diversify. In 1995, the company took a significant step forward by acquiring Lorvic Holdings Inc. Lorvic produced a line of infection control products. These included fluoride treatment and application products as well as products for dental equipment sterilization and plaque removal. Also, to position itself for further expansion, Young Dental filed a preliminary prospectus with the SEC. Its plan was to go public and raise up to $25 million in an initial public offering. The move was delayed, however, and the stock issue was not floated until 1997.
Meanwhile, in 1996, using an $18.5 million bank loan from Boatmen's National Bank, the company both paid down its existing debt and purchased Denticator International Inc. of Rancho Cordova, California. Denticator, which produced low cost disposable prophy angles, was in competition with Young, whose angles were somewhat higher in cost. With its acquisition of Denticator, Young both gained 75 percent of the special disposable prophy angle market and broadened its price range within that market. By 1996, between 80 million and 90 million disposable prophy angles were being marketed each year.
Revenues generated by its new acquisitions helped boost Young's gross to $21.6 million in 1996, up from $17.5 million the previous year. On average, between 1992 and 2000, the company's net profit margin ranged between 15.3 percent and 23.6 percent, which provides a good indication of its excellent financial performance--one that through the 1990s encouraged the company to continue its aggressive growth.
1997 - 1998
To help spur its sales, in July 1997, Young significantly modified its marketing strategy. Until that time, the company used independent sales representatives who moved Young products but in addition, they moved product lines from other companies as well. To improve its domestic marketing efficiency, Young began utilizing company employees to represent and sell Young product lines exclusively; however, it did continue to use non-exclusive distributors in overseas markets.
In 1997, Young went public, making its initial public offering (IPO) of 2.3 million shares on November 10. The sale netted Young $25.2 million, giving the company considerable capital for further expansion. A major acquisition soon followed when, in 1998, Young acquired Panoramic Corporation of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Panoramic, founded in 1986, was created to design, manufacture, and market panoramic X-ray machines (one allowing dentists to X-ray a patient's whole mouth in one exposure) in the United States and Canada. A highly successful company, Panoramic was unique within the domestic dental equipment market because it sold directly to dentists. With the purchase of Panoramic, Young picked up a new customer database. It also kept its focus on preventive dental care, since panoramic x-rays were widely used for the early detection of dental problems.
1999 - 2001
Young's growth continued through the rest of the decade and into the start of the next century. In 1999, the company acquired Athena Technology, Inc., or Athena/Champion. Athena developed, made and marketed handpieces and other related items and supplies for the dental profession.
In the next year, Young also bought Plak Smacker, Inc., a Riverside, California-based distributer of a range of dental products for retail consumers and dental professionals, including orthodontic tools and brushes, flavored gloves, and children's toothbrushes and toothpastes. Among its products was a cordless, battery-operated flossing device called Floss-O-Matic, which the company had introduced in 1996. In addition to marketing its products directly to orthodontists and pedodontists, Plak Smacker sold its line through mass market outlets.
Young Innovations, Inc. continued its acquisition strategy in 2001, acquiring both Biotrol International Inc. and Challenge Control Products Inc., two subsidiaries of Pro-Dex Corp., a Louisville, Colorado holding company. Biotrol manufactured infection control products, while Challenge made fluoride gels and whitening products. Their acquisition significantly expanded Young's infection control and preventive product lines.
2002 - 2005
In 2002, George Richmond requested to step down as CEO of Young, although he remained actively involved as Chairman of the Board and as the company's largest shareholder. Later that same year, Forbes Magazine ranked Young Innovations 39th on it's list of the 200 Best Small Companies in America.
The following year, Young continued it's history of expansion by acquiring Obtura Corporation and Earth City Technologies, Inc. (ECTI), collectively known as Obtura Spartan. Obtura Spartan, at the time based in Fenton, Missouri, designed, developed and manufactured a broad line of products for the endodontic market including ultrasonic units, ultrasonic tips and obturation equipment. As the market leader in systems designed for warm, vertical condensation obturation, as well as it's leading domestic market position in ultrasonic systems and tips used in apical surgery and endodontic retreatment, Obtura was a welcome addition to the Young Innovations family.
In 2004, Young expanded yet again with the purchase of Health Sonics. Health Sonics manufactured and marketed ultrasonic cleaners, solutions, and other asepsis products for the dental profession.
2006 - 2013
In late summer of 2006, Young announced the acquisition of Microbrush, Inc. and Microbrush International, Ltd., collectively referred to as Microbrush. The company's acquisition brought with it a broad line of micro-applicators used to apply a variety of materials to oral surfaces, including sealants, disclosing products, bonding agents, restorative materials, whitening products, and orthodontic brackets.
With the acquisition of Microbrush complete, Young Innovations took time in 2007 to dedicate resources to human capital, infrastructure, and promoting the overall health of the company. The year started with the construction of a 95,000-square-foot facility in Algonquin, Illinois, designed to align new selling and marketing functions with expanded warehouse and distribution space. As construction came to a close, Young consolidated operations, hired new employees, and began a renewed focus on enhancing customer relationships.
In early 2013, Linden Capital Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm, purchased Young Innovations for $39.50 per share. The transaction was approved by Young shareholders at a special meeting held on January 30th.
The following year, Young announced the acquisition of Oral-B Minute-Foam®, Centrays® and Centwins® trays and SUPA™ disposable prophy angles together with the licensing of the Oral-B brand name for select professional oral care products. The transaction combined two widely recognized brands, both with deep expertise in dental products, and allowed Young Dental to expand its premium product offering under the Oral-B brand name.
Microbrush also had a year of growth in 2014 with the acquisition of the Dry Tips brand from Mölnlycke Health Care AB. Dry Tips is a leading brand of high-quality moisture control products used in dental procedures and nicely filled out Microbrush's portfolio of restorative accessories.
In 2015, Young Innovations unveiled its newest business, Bridge2. Designed to serve Original Equipment Manufacturer customers worldwide in creating high quality dental products, Bridge2 works collaboratively with OEM partners from start to finish, providing creative ideation, market research, product design, prototyping, manufacturing, packaging and logistics.
2015 continued to be a year of growth in other areas as well. We were able to expand our product offerings with the acquisition of Medical Products Laboratories' professional dental contract manufacturing division. This division specialized in the manufacture of fluoride varnish, prophy paste, and other materials used in preventive and restorative dental procedures. Over time, we moved production from MPL's Philadelphia-based facilities to Young Dental's manufacturing facility in Earth City, MO.
That same year Microbrush acquired DentiSmart, LLC, which produced an innovative sectional matrix system used in restorative procedures. The acquisition further filled out Microbrush's portfolio of restorative accessories.
2016 - PRESENT
In the fall of 2016, we expanded our specialty-focused division with the acquisition of The Orthodontic Store, Inc. The Ortho Store is a full line provider of orthodontic appliances, supplies and instruments with a reputation for providing high quality products and excellent customer service.
Not long after, Young Dental teamed up with Wrigley Oral Health Care to introduce Orbit® Prophy Paste and Gum Packs, a first-of-its-kind product that allows patients to experience the refreshing flavors of Orbit gum during and after dental appointments.
This year we continued our tradition of growth by adding American Eagle Instruments, Inc. to the Young Innovations family. AEI is a global manufacturer of dental hand instruments with a strong focus on quality and innovation. In addition, we acquired several well known product lines from Medical Products Laboratories, Inc. including VarnishAmerica™ fluoride varnish, SealAmerica pit and fissure dental sealant kits and FluoriSHIELD™ dental gel.