Arrowhead Celebrates 40 Years!


This is a momentous year for Arrowhead Dental Laboratory. In 2015, we are celebrating 40 years in business. This is no small feat, given the changes in the dental industry, especially over the past ten years. Since the Great Recession of 2008, the world of dentistry has been forced to adapt to new technologies, identify new business models and respond to changing patient expectations. As I contemplate Arrowhead’s history, I have come to realize a basic truth at the heart of our continued success. I believe this truth has the power to ensure that dentistry continues to be a vibrant and satisfying endeavor.

I can’t think of Arrowhead without thinking of the phrase, “We are here to make dentists better and more productive.” I heard my father, Dr. Dick Barnes, say those words countless times throughout my life. I don’t recall the exact day, but I definitely remember a time when I began to grasp the importance of what he was trying to impart to those around him. Eventually, I understood that the core message was focus and how important it is to focus on the right things.

In today’s world, it is easy to lose focus—or worse, focus on the wrong things. I am constantly bombarded by wave after wave of new technologies, techniques and ideas. Sometimes it seems overwhelming, and if I allow myself to focus solely on external things, I start to feel indecisive and unsure about the future. At such times, my father’s philosophy puts everything in perspective.

Because Arrowhead focuses on the success of the doctors we work with, we have avoided many of the challenges that hinder the efforts of others. In retrospect, this focus has shaped the evolution of the company and how we seek to serve our doctors.

A powerful example of focusing on the dentist is the long-standing tradition of Arrowhead sponsoring continuing education (CE) (offered by the Dr. Dick Barnes Group), for dentists wanting to take their clinical skills to the next level. From a financial perspective, the CE courses make little sense, as they generate revenues barely sufficient to cover expenses. Yet we continue to offer them and engage dentists in this area because we see the power that they bring to the lives and practices of those who attend. Some of those professionals become customers of the lab, some do not, but at the end of the day, we believe that as they become better, the industry as a whole becomes more vibrant and ultimately, everyone benefits.

This magazine is also an outgrowth of our focus on dentists and improving their lives and practices. Arrowhead expends considerable resources producing, publishing and distributing this magazine free to more than 100,000 dental practices. Again, our goal is to help dentists see the world of possibilities that exist in dentistry and to provide information that they can use immediately for the improved quality and productivity of their practices.

As people engaged in the business of dentistry, we have a natural tendency to look for better, faster and more economical ways of doing things. Such is the nature of business and there is nothing inherently wrong with this way—as long as we don’t lose focus on the people we serve. When we allow profit motives, fear or ego to detract our focus from what is truly important, we start making decisions that seem beneficial for the short term, but actually take us further away from the core values of helping patients and dentists in the best possible way.

Everyone at Arrowhead, the Dr. Dick Barnes Group and Aesthetic Dentistry looks forward to the next 40 years. Our focus is (and will continue to be) making dentists better and more productive. In addition, I want to personally thank the dentists and their staff who have made Arrowhead successful and who have allowed us to serve them in this most noble profession. I also want to thank the employees of Arrowhead who, day in and day out, come to work with their focus firmly set on serving our dentists and their patients.


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