It was a far-off Monday, the 3rd of January 1994, I still remember it as if it was today. The laboratory was located in the only place my parents could afford: a small attic of a little more than 40 square metres. I used to live with my family downstairs and every morning at 8.45 am I would go upstairs with a glass full of coffee: that was my breakfast. Everything was ready: I had arranged my tools, instruments and materials, hung my dental technician diploma and the certificates of the courses I had attended. Only one thing was missing: work!
Thanks to the courses and seminars that I had been taking throughout Italy, I was already in contact with well-renowned experts of the orthodontic technique such as Filippo Francolini, Pierluigi Russo, Nerio Pantaleoni, and many more but the main problem was not learning the profession but to actually start working. At that time in my neighbourhood, dental labs didn’t have a logo so, instead of twiddling my thumbs, I started working on redesigning my logo to better represent my laboratory, Orthofan.
I started writing publications, photographing my works, creating home-made publicity material. I got a quality and guarantee certificate for my orthodontical appliances and immediately after I wrote an article for Rassegna Ortodontica, a well-known magazine of that time. I finally had something in my hands! I could introduce myself to dental clinics and show my works. I used to carry a suitcase with me with paper material only; the dentists would ask me: “Why don’t you have demonstrative models with you?” And I would humbly reply: “Dear Doctor, all the models are perfect but the work ending up in the patient’s mouth is is a horse of a very different colour”. In this way, I could stimulate the right interest in the doctors to receive my first works.
At that time there were no mobile phones and when I had to go out for work, I would miss other potential clients’ calls. I bought myself an answering machine, so that I could listened to the calls received when I would be away. Work started to pour in suddenly, and since the courier was too expensive, my comings and goings from one dental clinic to another became more and more frequent. I used to work at night and during the holidays as well but I was truly happy! I bought my first mobile phone, big as a half liter water bottle.
You can imagine how much a call costed at that time: but still less expensive than going back to the lab to check the answering machine only to find out that I had to collect another work from somewhere 100 mt away from the clinic I had just came back from and that was 30 km far from the laboratory.
I wrote my second publication in the Bulletin of Orthodontic Information on T.O.M., a system I created for the indirect transferring of brackets. I received a call from Dr. Simonetta Galli invitating me to an international congress by Cron-Om in Sao Paulo, Brazil: I was not sure if it was a joke or a dream! In spite of my family’s resistance, alone, for the first time, I took an intercontinental flight to give my first conference abroad. From then on, Orthofan started to grow exponentially. I invested more and more of what I earned for the growth of my business, from innovative machines and newer materials to branded and personalised stationery and much more. I combined the production of orthodontic appliances with training for orthodontists. At that point, I was operating at full speed. Wears passed and my business grew much more than expected to the point that in 2010, I moved the laboratory to the ground floor of the same building, in an area of 110 square metres and with 6 employees. The place was very nice indeed, and as I’ve always wanted, we all worked in harmony and with a smile on our face.
In 2012, another big step for Orthofan! I founded a side company called PrototiSpace LP for the production of high-quality prototyped 3D models or invisible aligners.
Today here I am, what to say…I’m really proud of what I created. I am happy with my laboratory, I am happy with my irreplaceable collaborators and I enjoy the fruits of my labour.
I believe in my work and my business. I will continue to devote my energies to the continued evolution of Orthofan and I will try in every way to pass all my knowledge on to those who are with me to make sure that one day, when I’m gone, what I created out of scratch, my orthodontic laboratory, Orthofan, will continue to progress.
Odt . Fabio Fantozzi