By Danny Chan
When you read a job description that says “bringing people’s imaginations to life”, you would unlikely call to association the work of a ‘Fitout Specialist’. Yet, to Dentec, that’s exactly what fitout professionals do. Serving the design, construction and equipment needs of the dental sector, Dentec is led by a gung ho team of fitout experts who take a “never-say-die” attitude towards bettering the customer experience.
Managing Director Phil Earl explains: “We do more than simply manage – and deliver to – our clients’ expectations. After listening and understanding their needs and preferences, we always make the effort to go one better and exceed their expectations.
“For us, it’s about giving the clients what they want – and more”
For Dentec, there is pride in going the extra mile. In fact, it is not uncommon for the team to take on projects that other companies may lack either the resources or gumption for. For this reason, it enjoys a niche reputation as the go-to specialist for more complex undertakings. The fitout firm has been setting the industry benchmark for exacting standards in design and workmanship. Eighteen years in the business established Dentec as a service provider par excellence, whilst winning the loyalty and friendship of their customers.
Joining the growing chorus of dental praise for the Geelong Specialists is Dr Sisi Zhu. For months, the private practitioner had been incubating grand visions for a new surgery to be located in one of Melbourne’s hottest retail hubs, namely Melbourne Central Shopping Centre. Impressed by the way Dentec refurbished one of her surgical rooms early 2009, Sisi approached them for her latest project.
She raves: “We found them to be extremely professional. Besides getting the job done on time and budget, they virtually took care of the entire renovation process.
“Of course, we went into the second project, which was much bigger in size and scope, with high expectations.”
The Masterpiece Surgery
Having decided to relocate her 4-year-old practice, Melbourne Central Dental, from co-occupying a unit with a medical outfit, to her own space within the downtown shopping precinct, Sisi had in mind to create a surgery that was, in Dentec’s terminology, “a masterpiece”.
The basic outline was deceptively simple. Sisi recalls:
“I wanted to construct a clean and sophisticated dental surgery. I had a colour scheme in mind combining whites, blues and blacks to accentuate a professional image, modelled after the look and feel of a hospital.”
Phil adds: “The client wanted an open-plan design that was inviting and well organized. Basically, we had to build the surgery from ground up, as the space was at first, totally empty.”
Sharing from her co-tenancy experience, Sisi contributed valuable ideas towards the surgery design. As the assigned project manager, Phil’s job was to help Sisi flesh out the concepts in precise detail while navigating the dentist along her preferred design routes.
Together with her practice manager, Sisi held lengthy discussions with the designers. The design team, in consultation with the building managers, had the gargantuan task of translating Sisi’s verbally communicated ideas into a feasibility plan and initial concept drawings.
At the conceptual stage, the Shopping Centre’s management introduced changes to the size and layout of the unit space, hence raising the complexity of the design. Snap meetings were arranged between the dental and fitout teams, and steps quickly taken to iron out the issues at hand.
“The main challenges were access, red-tape and changing of boundaries by the Centre Management. There was also the daily challenge of carrying out extensive construction work inside a major shopping centre.”
With final drafts completed, full plan sets had to be developed and issued to Melbourne Central Management as well as other third party firms for the purpose of obtaining a building permit.
Phil elaborates: “The whole project was planned down to the finest detail to ensure a swift construction process without cutting any corners and minimizing any unseen hold-ups or delays.
The project was completed at a cost of $440,000, well below the projected half a million dollars. Sisi attributes the budget savings to her project manager:
“Phil was extremely professional. He kept us abreast of all prevailing issues and communicates the risks clearly and well in advance. From the onset, he took ownership of the project and was able to deliver the project on time and budget.”
Balancing form and function
Perhaps the only thing more impressive than the professional conduct displayed by Dentec personnel throughout the building process would be the final construction itself.
At first glance, the open-plan concept and corporate colour theme conforms exactly to how Sisi had imagined it. The four-chair surgery houses a spacious front desk and waiting area, consultation offices, sterilization room, patient refreshing area, staff room and WC for the disabled.
The brightly lit rooms, pristine white walls and grey carpeting accentuate the clean and corporate design that Sisi favours, in going for that “hospital look and feel”. The simplistic, melamine L-shaped reception counter gives the front desk area its most arresting centrepiece, exuding a stately yet not too imposing presence. In the corner spot next to the doorway – wisely used as a waiting area – a dark sofa set provide a bit of contrast to the otherwise mono-coloured surroundings. While the clean and open space suggests a neat and highly efficient work environment, understated furnishings project a professional image.
Clever optimisation of space and ample storage cabinets extends the clutter-free environment into the surgery rooms. The grey-and-white colour palette is repeated here, not least to create a consistent look throughout. Even the treatment units’ upholstery uses the same blue colour as the company logo. The wall clinging cabinets leave generous room around the dental chair to grant easy access for nurses and assistants during treatment.
Besides fleshing out the customer’s desires, Dentec also brought to bear their vast experience having worked on countless dental surgeries. Upon closer look, the devil indeed is in the details.
Dentec designers are scrupulous when it comes to space utilization. In the steri department, the wall space is optimised by neat rows of cabinets and drawers. A shelving enclosure that serves as a lab workstation, features a unique rolling blind that obscures the items when not in use. Desktop devices like computers and autoclave units seat neatly on the cabinet tops. The washing area is neatly tucked into a corner, complete with hand-towel dispensers and mini splashbacks.
While tasteful ergonomic features are evident throughout the work-oriented environment, there are hints of relaxation both in the patient refresh area and staff lounge. Flower decorations placed at strategic spots help soften the clinical atmosphere and add colour to the conservative hues in its surrounds. With slight variations, the design flows seamlessly from room to room. Clean, straight lines of the furniture depict a futuristic practice, with a touch of Zen. With subtle hints of modernity, the overall design for Melbourne Central Dental possesses a timeless quality.
Commenting on the well-organised layout and design, Phil stresses: “We always maintain a delicate balance between beauty, comfort and practicality.
“When you design a dental surgery, the balance between form and function is not an option but that of paramount importance.”
For good measure, quality materials are used throughout the surgery, as are complemented by superior workmanship. According to Phil, a busy dental practice inevitably puts a newly constructed surgery through its paces.
“A dental practice is not for display purposes only. If quality materials are not being used, the construction will not hold up against the strain of daily use.
“We are not the cheapest fitout specialists out there, because we do not believe in compromising on quality.”
Dentec can certainly add Melbourne Central Dental to its list of quality jobs. Months after the project has been signed, stamped and delivered – Sisi relocated in June 2010 – it continues to garner positive feedback from the client.
Sisi testifies: “Not only did the people at Dentec think out of the box to provide practical solutions throughout the building process, they delivered on their promise of quality
“Personally, it was the best fitout experience I’ve ever had.”
Once again, Dentec’s credo for “giving customers beyond their expectations” rings loud and clear.