John E. Garrison, DDS
Partner, V.P. of Manufacturing
Partner, V.P. of Sales & Marketing
Usually, when you click on the ‘About’ link on a company’s website, you are slowly bored into semi-consciousness by the droll presentation of ancient company history. We’ll try to keep this to the pertinent facts so we don’t lose you. If you feel yourself nodding off, go grab a cup of coffee and come back – we’ll wait…
Back in 1996, Dr. Edgar Garrison and his son Dr. John Garrison were not satisfied with the matrix systems that were available for producing tight interproximal contacts on Class II restorations. Some products were completely worthless while others produced a good result but were very difficult to use. They weren’t looking to develop a system of their own, but when none of the manufacturers were willing to do anything to improve the old systems, they had to make a choice: Live with poor results, live with hard-to-use materials, or make their own.
Obviously, they struck out on their own. Which, incidentally, is a really good thing for me or I wouldn’t have this great job, working for this great company. But, I digress. The Drs. Garrison started working with an engineer friend, Rob Anderson, to give some form to the ideas they had. Once this threesome had a working product, they brought in another of Edgar’s sons, Tom Garrison, as the fourth business partner to get the marketing stuff all put together.
They got everything ready and at the Chicago Midwinter Convention in February of 1997 they introduced the Composi-Tight Sectional Matrix System to the dental community. It’s not very original to say ‘It was an instant success!’, but it was truly an instant success. Off the charts! A home run! Interject as many tired clichés as you want, they all fit. Composi-Tight set the standard for all matrix systems to come.
The reason for the success of this first product and the foundation upon which so many of our subsequent products are built is pretty simple. Listen to dentists – they will not pull any punches when telling you something doesn’t work properly or explaining clinical problems they face. Listen. They’ll tell you what works and what doesn’t and probably have a few good ideas on how to fix it. In fact, that’s where our whole “Putting ideas into practice.” tag line comes from.
As popular as it is, Composi-Tight continues to be a work in progress. Four generations of Composi-Tight have been introduced and we continue to work on improving it literally every day. But that’s not all we do anymore. Now there’s a Garrison matrix and wedge for practically any type of restoration a dentist would care to do. Other unique restorative accessories like the “Skippy Special” multi-function composite instrument and “Bob’s Double Cord Packer” have been very successful - firmly planting the Garrison flag in other market segments.
Although the size and scope of the business has changed a lot since 1997, it’s still owned by the same group of guys. Dr. Edgar passed away in 2009. (We miss him a lot. Ask any long time Garrison employee and they will all have some funny story to tell you about Ed.) Dr. John’s dental practice is right across the parking lot from our office here in Spring Lake, Michigan where he practices full time. Both Tom and Rob are in here every day keeping the ship headed in the right direction.
They’ve collected a great team over the years (not to toot my own horn or anything). But we’re working very hard and doing a pretty darn good job. Lots of companies like to say that they cultivate a family atmosphere, but we truly do. We celebrate life’s triumphs together and grieve together over life’s tragedies. True, we occasionally put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional, but we make our way through it – stronger for the experience.
So there you have it. Garrison Dental Solutions. It’s a good place to work. It’s a good company to do business with whether you’re a dentist using our products or another manufacturer building stuff for us or buying stuff from us. Now if we could just convince the guys that the business could be operated successfully from a warm sunny beach somewhere rather than West Michigan where we’re up to our armpits in snow half the year things would be absolutely perfect!