Failure may not be an option, but it can be an opportunity. At least that’s how Scott Lurgio sees it. Actually in Scott’s world, success and failure are often treated as one in the same. That’s because Scott is Franchise Director of Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs for DENTSPLY GAC. It’s a complex name for a job that’s based on a word that every toddler has mastered to their parent’s misery—why.
While success is what you strive for, and failure is what you avoid, Scott knows that you can learn as much from failure as you can from success. Scott should know. He’s been meticulously studying what succeeds and what fails in DENTSPLY for a number of years. But just as important as what’s working and what isn’t, is why. Why does something work, why does something fail, and what can we learn from each?
Scott Lurgio is a father of two boys, a daughter and a native of New York, with the slightest accent if you listen closely. After graduating from high school, Scott enrolled and served in the Marine Corp for five years before he was honorably discharged in 1987. During his time in the service, he acquired a knack for process driven procedures, a trait that would serve him well throughout his professional career.
After leaving the military Scott landed a job in the Aerospace industry. He worked on a project that would eventually become the propulsion system for the Boeing 777 jetliner before leaving to take a position as Production Manager with United Dental Manufactures. In 1999 his company was purchased by DENTSPLY International and became a part of the Tulsa Dental Specialties division. Scott accepted the position of Quality Systems Manager with his new company, which began a 19 year long run with DENTSPLY that continues today.
During his early years with DENTSPLY, Scott put himself through college and graduated with honors (Cum Laude) from Milligan College with a degree in Business Administration. He stayed with Tulsa until 2007 when he took a job with DENTSPLY to become a Compliance Manager. During his four years with corporate, he traveled to all the different DENTSPLY divisions performing compliance audits. This involved reviewing their quality system to make sure they met worldwide regulatory requirements. It also gave him a comprehensive view of the company that few can match.
As a quality assurance professional, Scott’s job is to ask questions at every step along the way. Whether it’s a product, a process, a location or acquisition, he’s always questioning. “Why do we do it like this, why don’t we do it this other way, and how can we simplify the process and improve efficiency?” Considering that the GAC product catalog runs over 340 pages…it’s a question that Scott asks a lot.
Of course a product line this diverse also means Scott spends a good deal of his time on the road, or in the air in the modern business lexicon. Because his job requires so much travel, Scott and his family were able to remain in York, PA when he accepted the job with GAC. His travels take him to a number of different countries including China, Japan, Germany, France and Mexico.
In recent years, DENTSPLY has made a concerted effort to focus on internal product development in addition to acquisition. This philosophical shift was made all the more relevant in the weeks and months following the tragic tsunami that crippled GAC’s ability to serve their customers. Scott started with GAC immediately following the tsunami in 2011. He instantly embraced a dual mandate of streamlining the process of bringing new products to market, while making sure they were bringing the right kind of products to market. The two processes share some overlap, but are fundamentally different.
“For an acquired product, we’ll do an oversight of who we’re acquiring it from,” says Scott. “It’s based on the quality and reputation of who we’re acquiring it from. We’ll review the existing paperwork and their Quality Management System before we make the final decision. But then it’s still on us to do our due diligence to make sure all of the regulatory and quality requirements are met. Plus we will always do in-house bench testing to make sure any claims we want to make are confirmed.”
The process for a purely internal project is much more hands-on and runs from cradle to grave. This means Scott is involved in gathering the Voice of the Customer information, through product development and launch to post market studies on how the product is reacting in the field, and of course, the omnipresent regulatory concerns. Fortunately he found a kindred spirit in Krish Krishnamoorthy, DENTSPLY GAC’s new Director of Research and Development.
“Krish and I came in at the same time and we collectively teamed up to discuss how to improve the process, the products and the customer service. It’s a continuous process of improvement, oversight and feedback using quality business metrics.”
“Given my background in process improvement, we were able to come in and review our process over the last two years. We continue to see improvement. But more importantly, we’ve got very specific metrics in place to monitor and grade out the performance of those processes. Plus we’ve now got early warning systems in place, where if we see a process that’s not performing the way we—and our customers— expect, we take action immediately. We can look for the root cause of the shortcoming and determine what we can do to put things in place to solve the problem,” says Scott. “I spent five years going to every DENTSPLY site around the world. I learned how everyone else in DENTSPLY is doing things. It helped me to identify what our best practices were, and equally important, see what wasn’t working. I was able to take bits and pieces of everything I’ve seen and apply them to every situation I encounter. GAC has always been known for world-class products. We feel like now we’re making sure our customer support is also living up to the reputation of our products.”
While he’s got fingerprints on every GAC product, his accomplishments actually extend beyond manufacturing. Scott recently spearheaded the move of the GAC welding division to its new home in Mexicali Mexico in addition to GAC’s distribution move to Lancaster, PA.
The end results speak for themselves. The average shipping of product took ten days. Today, 99.5% of the orders are in the doctor’s hands in just three days. The same goes with custom welding orders, where we’ve been able to reduce the average ship time from 10 – 14 days, down to 3 – 4 days.
While Scott’s job requires he break things down to the most granular, he’s been with the company long enough to see the big picture. The company he sees now is much more nimble and responsive to changes in the market place. He sees a company that’s equally adroit in acquisitions and new product development. And he sees a company that’s willing to look in the mirror and make changes when they are needed.
The ex-Marine in Scott will tell you that failure is not an option. But the Quality Control professional knows that when failure does manage to make an appearance, he’ll make sure it’s an impetus for change.
This article published in 2013 OrthoWorld.