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Open wide: Hot Springs manufacturer discovers the market for dental instruments is wide open to new products.

A new company in Hot Springs is revolutionizing the dental instruments industry.

Gaston Medical Instruments Inc. designs and manufactures disposable dental instruments.

The company has attracted more than 50 regular clients since it began operations last September. Included among its clientele are the nation's six largest dental distributors and two major international distributors.

Sales for GMI are expected to double when a deal is finalized with a Taiwanese distributor next month.

Bob Dean, an international trade specialist at the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission, helped link the Taiwan company to GMI through the AIDC's Taipei, Taiwan, office.

"Foreign companies are attracted to progressive American companies with new ideas," Dean says. "The Taiwanese especially are interested in things like pollution control and disease-preventive medical devices."

To accommodate its growth, GMI President Tony Gaston says the company has plans to relocate.

GMI will occupy a 10,000-SF facility with Bishop Aviation Inc. along Central Avenue.

Bishop molds the plastic parts for GMI's products. It also manufactures aviation instruments.

The relationship between the two companies provides for tighter control over products and quicker manufacturing capabilities. As the primary medical contract for Bishop, GMI is connecting Bishop with a promising market.

According to Gaston, the dental field is an untapped market with enormous opportunity.

"We found the market to be wide open," says Gaston, 32. "But, now, with the onset of AIDS and other health concerns, the industry is waking up and realizing they've ignored a tremendous market."

Staying Ahead

GMI is a few steps ahead of its competition.

Already, the company has a patent pending on its first product, a combination dental mirror and saliva ejector. Plans to apply for a second patent on a new product are in the works.

The company manufactures more than 10 products, including disposable forceps, explorers and an ultrasonic scaler. Gaston says the scaler, which utilizes space-age plastic, is the first of its kind on the market.

GMI products quickly have become popular with dentists.

"Not only do dentists save money with disposable instruments |which average less than $1 per item~, but they also prevent cross-contamination among patients," Gaston says.

Because the products are thrown away, time-consuming and expensive sterilization practices are minimized.

Gaston is confident that disposable dental products are the wave of the future. He began the company intent on becoming a progressive, "idea" firm.

So far, so good.

GMI's reputation is growing.

"We constantly are approached by doctors, hygienists and sales reps who want us to develop an instrument for them that performs a certain function," Gaston says. "We are willing to put in the effort to make that product a reality."

A graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a bachelor's degree in engineering, Gaston has made GMI a family business by involving three of his nine siblings.

He credits his brother Bruce Gaston, a dentist who practices in Germany, with the idea for the company's first product.

Brother Pat Gaston, who owns a Hot Springs construction company, is a shareholder in the company.

And, brother Jack Gaston is the vice president of sales and marketing.

The primary financial backer is Felix Troilo, Tony Gaston's former employer. Troilo, chief executive officer of Bird Medical Technologies Inc. of California, has contributed the majority of GMI's $130,000 in start-up costs.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Gaston Medical Instruments Inc.
Author:Harper, Kim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Apr 20, 1992
Words:547
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