For over 75 years, and into the third generation, the Shafer family has served the dental industry with commitment, professionalism and passion. Mr. Vernon Shafer, Sr. began his career in the dental laboratory field in the 1930’s. During World War 2, he served as the senior dental technician, managing the central lab for the allies in London. Vernon Sr. was involved with the Mobile Dental Units; vans outfitted with a dental chair and staffed by a dentist and technician. These units were sent to the front lines in Europe to replace the missing, or damaged, dentures of the soldiers engaged in the fighting. After the war, Vernon Sr. returned home to continue his career and open his first lab. Vernon Sr. was the first dental technician in the state of Virginia to work with cast gold for crowns and quickly became known as an expert in the emerging field of “crown and bridge.”
In the mid-fifties, Mr. Shafer founded Norfolk Dental Lab, which would become one of the most recognized labs in the Mid-Atlantic. However, in 1976, with Buddy Jr. already involved in the business and Rick coming of age, Mr. Shafer Sr. decided to open Bay View Dental Laboratory. Bay View was a small, exclusive crown and bridge lab. Father and two sons were on their way. With their father’s ethics for hard work, excellent customer service, and attention to detail instilled in Rick and Buddy, the 650 square foot space was soon too small. In 1980, Bay View moved to a 1200 square foot building around the corner from the original lab. Buddy and Rick began to manage the day-to-day challenges of the business. The foundation was in place for what would become one of the best known dental labs in the United States.
The early eighties also marked the beginning of what would become a lifetime friendship and association with Dr. Peter Dawson, the world renowned restorative dentist in St. Petersburg, Florida. Upon their first trips to see Dr. Dawson, a chord was struck with Buddy and Rick. Dr. Dawson, having begun his career as a technician in his dad’s lab, understood the vital role that technicians play in the success of a restorative practice. Buddy and Rick were amazed at the level of predictable success possible if their dentist-clients followed Dr. Dawson’s concepts. Over thirty years later, the bond and mutual respect between the Shafer’s and Dr. Dawson is stronger than ever.
The next three decades brought great success, and growth, to the laboratory. The facility expanded to more than three times the original size. Equipment and technology continued to evolve, but an even bigger challenge was an exciting new business concept developed as a result of customer feedback. Traditionally, dental labs are organized by departments according to function. At Bay View, the concept of pairing up technicians to work together as a team has been utilized with growing success. There were many challenges, none greater than the physical layout and logistics of the old facility. The decision was made to expand and relocate, but this time the entire lab would be designed for the private team concept, not functional departments.
In 2002, a new, state-of-the-art, facility was opened. Each ceramist has a C&B partner and a model and die technician to more thoroughly service the clients with greater consistency. Several in-house specialists serve as support for everyone when dealing with implants and removable work. At Bay View Dental Laboratory, dental technicians have one another as a resource, yet they work independently and directly with the clients. This creates better communication, knowledge of customer preferences and a much higher level of ownership of work issues. Almost universally, dentists embrace the option of working with their own “private technician”. Technicians get personal feedback and the opportunity to develop relationships with clients. Everyone wins, most importantly, the patient.
Bay View continues to maintain an impressive staff of board certified technicians, averaging more than 20 years experience. They are world-class technicians and many have already owned their own laboratory business.
Another exciting expansion of Bay View involved the creation of The Mid-Atlantic Center for Advanced Dental Study, an education and learning resource center. As news spread, the Center quickly became known as an ideal learning environment. Meetings are held for dentists, hygienists, assistants and technicians throughout the year.
The new millennium also saw the continuation of the third generations of Shafer’s into the business. Rick’s son Matt, and Buddy’s sons, Jordan and Robert, are now involved at Bay View. They join the wealth of talent that has come together to create this exceptional staff. Materials and techniques continue to evolve. CAD/CAM design, laser welding, vacuum injection, digital photography, and internet communication have replaced many older processes; passion for continuous improvement is still the core value at Bay View.
Bay View Dental Laboratory is now internationally recognized, but just as it has been for over a half a century, the key elements of success are still our commitment to continued improvement, attention to detail, and pride in delivering consistent customer service.