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It has been a little more than two years ago since Heraeus Kulzer, a leading provider of aesthetic veneers and other dental products, was nearing a decision about consolidating two of its plants.
One was in Westchester County, north of New York City. The other was in South Bend at the former Bayer Dental Lab facilities, which Heraeus Kulzer purchased about 20 years ago.
Heraeus Kulzer, a division of the privately held German precious metals and materials company known as Heraeus, has local annual sales of around $100 million. It is also a major supporter of the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, which provides dental services to children in the United States who are underserved.
For Christopher Holden, who has been president and CEO of Heraeus Kulzer for nearly four years, the decision to consolidate the company’s headquarters in Indiana was relatively easy.
“We have deep manufacturing roots here in South Bend,” Holden said. “And there are certain logistical advantages being near the center of the country.
“Moreover, when you talk about quality that is reproducible, having a trained and skilled labor force with a history attached to our products is monumentally important,” he said.
Holden said the “Midwest-friendly customer service” figured in, too.
“People in the Midwest are really friendly, customer centric people with an outstanding quality of life, which makes it attractive when trying to compete for talent for customers.”
“Also, when people see this area and recognize that they are only 90 miles from Chicago – one of the greatest cities in the world – it really isn’t a tough sell,” he said.
Nor did it hurt that the City of South Bend and the state chipped in with more than $800,000 in tax breaks and other incentives, to help the company renovate its 25,000-square-foot headquarters on South Lafayette Boulevard and expand its staff.
“But that was not the main consideration in our decision,” said Holden. “We have been here for decades and believe we are part of the fabric of this community. The location, outstanding workforce and high quality of life were all equally important factors in committing to South Bend.”
The company moved into its South Bend headquarters on Aug. 15, 2008. Heraeus Kulzer invested more than $3 million on the expansion, renovation and relocation of their new, state-of-the art headquarters.