Straumann Holding AG - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Straumann Holding AG

Peter Merlan-Weg 12

Company Perspectives

Our vision is to become the world leader in the field of implant dentistry and dental tissue regeneration, and to be the provider of choice to dental professionals. Our mission is to enable dental professionals to restore their patients' oral function and esthetics through effective, reliable and safe treatment methods in implant dentistry and dental tissue regeneration.

History of Straumann Holding AG

Straumann Holding AG is one of the world's leading specialists in the development, manufacture, and distribution of dental implant systems and regenerative tissue compounds. Based in Basel, Switzerland, Straumann invests actively in developing new implant technology, such as SLActive, the first hydrohilic implant surfacing technique that has provided significant reductions in patient healing times. Straumann has been expanding strongly, opening several new manufacturing plants, including a new state-of-the-art facility in Andover, Maryland, which also serves as the company's U.S. subsidiary's headquarters. Straumann has also been actively expanding its core range, notably through the purchases of Switzerland's Kuros Therapeutics and Sweden's Biora. These purchases formed the basis of the company's new biomaterials division, which develops soft and hard tissue regenerative products, such as Straumann Bone Ceramic, launched in 2005. Straumann has also instituted a policy of taking tighter control over its distribution operations. The strategy has included the purchases of its former distributors in a number of markets, including Italy, Korea, and, in January 2006, Denmark, and the establishment of new subsidiaries in Australia and Mexico. Straumann is listed on the Swiss stock exchange and is led by President and COO Gilbert Achermann and Chairman Rudolf Maag. Thomas Straumann, grandson of the founder, remains the company's largest shareholder, with nearly 39 percent of shares.

Watchmaker Origins

Like many families in the Waldenthur region, the Straumann family was originally involved in watchmaking. Following World War I, the family, led by Reinhard Straumann, focused its interest in the materials used for the manufacturer of watches. Starting in 1920, Straumann lent his background in engineering to the development of new alloys that could be used for the production of watch movement. Straumann succeeded in producing alloys that provided such properties as resistance to fatigue and corrosion, while remaining non-magnetic. Straumann's alloys later found their way into watches produced by such famous watchmaking names as Rolex and IWC. Straumann's alloys were particularly important in the development of new spring types.

Straumann set up a dedicated laboratory for his alloys research in 1938. By 1954, Straumann had succeeded in developing a commercially viable alloy and founded a new company, Dr. Ing. R. Straumann Research Institute AG. The company also launched a second activity, that of laboratory testing. Later, the company also added another offshoot, that of the production of ski jumping equipment. Over the next decades, the company's alloys played an important role in supporting the Swiss watchmaking industry's reputation as the center of the global watchmaking market as it came under heavy pressure from Japanese competitors in the 1970s.

In the late 1950s, Straumann, now led by the founder's son Fritz Straumann, began looking at new areas to extend its alloys technologies. The company teamed up with the Swiss Association of Internal Fixation (AO/ASIF), which had been looking for new materials and fixation systems for treating bone fractures. Straumann and the AO/ASIF began working together to adapt Straumann's alloy process for use in internal bone fixation devices. The partnership represented a breakthrough in orthopedic surgery, and Straumann quickly became a world leader in the production of internal fixation systems.

The seeds for the later Straumann Holding were sown in the early 1970s, when Straumann identified a new market, that of dental prostheses, for its growing range of implant technologies. By 1974, the company had produced its first dental implant using its alloys, conducting clinical trials at the University of Berne. The company's involvement in the new field deepened in 1980 when it became one of the founding members of the International Team for Oral Implantology, or ITI. The ITI, which originally started with 12 founding members, later grew to include more than 400 members by 2000, with more than 15 branches internationally.

Straumann began its own international expansion in the 1980s. The company began the decade with the establishment of a subsidiary in Germany. By the end of the decade, the company had also launched a subsidiary in the United States. The company also debuted an important advance in dental implant technology, known as the Morse taper connection, in 1986. Straumann's dental division remained quite small, however.

Dental Implant Technologies Leader

The death of Fritz Straumann in 1990 brought about the transformation of the company his father had founded less than 40 years earlier. At that time, the Straumann family decided to sell off the company in a management buyout. The new company, called Stratec, took with it only Straumann's osteosynthesis operations, which represented the major part of its business. Stratec later merged with Synthes, becoming Synthes-Stratec.

Instead of abandoning the company's small, but promising dental implant activities, however, Thomas Straumann, son of Fritz Straumann, led a second management buyout of this unit. The new company retained the Straumann name, becoming Institut Straumann. Under the younger Straumann, then in his mid-20s, the company now refocused itself as a specialist producer of dental implant systems.

Straumann set out to solve a major complication in dental implant surgery, namely the long recuperation period needed for the bone to integrate with the implant. This period lasted for as long as 24 weeks using competitors' implant systems. By the mid-1990s, however, Straumann had reduced its own system's recovery period to 12 weeks. Then, in 1997, Straumann achieved a new breakthrough, with the launch of its SLA implant system. SLA, which stood for "sandblasted, large grits, acid-etched," enabled a reduction of the integration process to just six to eight weeks, placing Straumann at the forefront of dental implant technology at the time.

The successful launch of the SLA system encouraged the company to prepare for a new period of expansion. As part of this effort, the company went public in 1998, listing its shares on the Swiss stock exchange. While Thomas Straumann remained the company's principal shareholder, a new management team was brought in to guide the group's new growth strategy.

As part of that strategy, the company began construction of a new state-of-the-art production facility at Villeret, Switzerland, near Berne. That facility was completed in 2000. The company also opened a new Technology Center at its Waldenburg home base that year, allowing the company to step up its research and development effort. The success of the SLA system also drove the increasing adoption of implants, as an alternative to crowns, bridges, and dentures. By the early 2000s, the company was already forced to expand the Villeret facility.

Expanding Technologies

Straumann had also begun to look for new opportunities to augment its operations, while remaining focused on the field of dental care. In 1997, the company added further surgical capacity when it purchased the MODUS@System for maxillofacial surgery. This business remained just a small part of the group's overall revenues, which were instead driven by the rapid growth of the global implant business.

In the early 2000s, Straumann recognized another potential market, that of the development of biomaterials that could be used for the regeneration of soft and hard tissues lost to periodontal and other diseases. Rebuilding the bone support structure was an essential component in the successful implementation of implants. In 2002 the company made its first biomaterials acquisition, of Kura Therapeutics, based in Switzerland. That purchase was followed in 2003 by the acquisition of Sweden's Biora. The Malmo-based company's flagship product was the protein-based Emdogain, a breakthrough product used to treat periodontal disease. Following the acquisition, Biora and Kura were merged to form Straumann's second major division, Biomaterials.

Straumann moved its own headquarters to Basel in 2004, as it began to reposition itself as a truly international group. With the growing and rapid acceptance of implant technologies, the company adopted a new strategy of developing a direct relationship with its customers. As such, Straumann began expanding its sales and distribution network into new markets, while boosting its presence in its established markets. As part of this effort, the company began acquiring a number of its existing distributors, such as BIO srl, in Italy, acquired at the end of 2004, and Denmark, the acquisition of which was completed in 2006. The company also strengthened its presence in Korea, and established new distribution subsidiaries in Australia and Mexico in 2005. The company also responded to its rising sales in the United States by moving its U.S. subsidiary's headquarters and production plant to a new facility in Andover, Maryland, in 2005. By then, the company's international network included some 18 subsidiaries, with sales to more than 60 countries.

At the same time, Straumann's research and development effort continued to turn out innovative products; indeed, by the end of the 2005, the company had completely renewed its product line. One new product came in 2005, with the launch of Straumann Bone Ceramic, a synthetic bone-graft substitute. That product was joined by another breakthrough, the launch of the SLActive system. The new generation of implant technology, which boasted the industry's first hydrophilic surface system, once again halved the osseointegration recovery period. Straumann had proved itself a driving force behind the fast-developing oral implant market in the 2000s.

Principal Subsidiaries

Institut Straumann AG; Straumann AB (Sweden); Straumann AS (Norway); Straumann Brasil Ltda. (Brazil); Straumann BV (Netherlands); Straumann Canada Ltd.; Straumann Denmark ApS; Straumann GmbH (Austria); Straumann GmbH (Germany); Straumann Italia srl (Italy); Straumann Ltd (U.K.); Straumann Mexico SA de CV; Straumann OY (Finland); Straumann Pty Ltd. (Australia); Straumann SA (Spain); Straumann SA/NV (Belgium); Straumann SARL (France); Straumann USA, LLC.

Principal Competitors

Siemens AG; Fresenius Medical Care AG; B Braun Melsungen AG ; Centerpulse Orthopedics AG; Stada Arzneimittel AG; GN Store Nord A/S; Nobel Biocare.


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