Julie Charlestein - The First Woman & 4th Generation Charlestein to Lead Premier Dental


22 March 2021

38 mins 5 secs

Season 1

Your Host
Special Guest

About this Episode

Julie Charlestein is a fourth-generation CEO and president of Premier Dental, a global dental development and manufacturing company serving the worldwide oral health professional market since 1913.

Julie is the first woman and the fourth generation of the Charlestein family to lead the company. Since accepting the position as CEO, Julie has implemented changes to adapt to the times, and advanced its product line to advance Premier's market impact.

The Charlestein family have adopted an interesting ownership and control structure for Premier which Julie has kindly agreed to discuss with us today.

Standout Quotes:

  • "Even though I had proved myself and worked in the company for 15 years before I became CEO...people were still looking at me like did I deserve to be there?" - [Julie]
  • "The way that the transitions are the easiest is when everything is written down" - [Julie]
  • "Giving one person control, I think, removes a lot of the family bickering" - [Mike]
  • "Remember who you are" - [Julie]
  • "The dollar is Round" - [Julie]
  • "I think giving the next generation members the opportunity to opt-in, rather than have an expectation, often creates the greatest want" - [Mike]
  • To start a revolution, the only solution, evolve" - [Julie]
  • "Don't let perfect get in the way of good" - [Julie]
  • "Science doesn't always sell" - [Mike]
  • "Family is family and that's where you should be connected" - [Julie]

Key Takeaways:

  • The company was started by Julie's grandfather while working for his boss as a Dental Instrument Sharpener and has transitioned from the marketing of dental consumables for other brands to focus on their brand.
  • Joining the family had never been an expectation by the family or part of Julie's plan, but it was looked upon as a thing of pride for the family.
  • Julie explains that when it came time to join, she took conscious effort to familiarize herself with the general goals and ideals of the family business
  • Highlighting factors like her young looks and family background, Julie describes the impression she got when she joined the family business, who thought she didn't deserve to be there. and after working hard, she proved them wrong.
  • The transition of the business from her father to her was seamless, and void of the typical situation where the prior generation holds on to the business even after completing the transition process in writing. Julie also notes the critical role of ensuring all processes involving transition are penned down in legal documents.
  • While getting together as a family is pivotal for a family business and is being inculcated, there is room for improvement.
  • Julie's Family Value: "Remember who you are", you need to have a sense of who you represent including your family, your community, the company.
  • Another family value from Julie: "The dollar is Round"; this means you can have money now and it can just as easily roll away from you, then roll back towards you.
  • Describing the evolution of the business under her, Julie explains her goal to make the company more data-driven and consumer-led, through branding, marketing, digitization, and social media.
  • One key lesson from a significant failure while running the family business was that "Science doesn't always win", as the scientific
  • superiority of a product does not guarantee sales. This was realized following the creation of a multipurpose dental product, which seemed like it could do everything, but the product only ended up confusing consumers due to a lack of specificity in function. This experience had a strong impact on the parameters surrounding any development within the company.
  • From Julie to her kids: Remember who you are, The dollar is Round, Respect, and Family ties.

Episode Timeline:

  • [00:49] Meet today's guest, Julie Charlestein, a 4th generation CEO.
  • [01:37] The backstory of Premier Dental Family Business.
  • [09:28] Growing up, was joining the family business always an expectation?
  • [14:22] Julie describes the transition of the business from her father to herself.
  • [24:16] Does the family get together regularly for a family meeting or family council?
  • [25:27] Are there any key values passed down through the generations that still hold today?
  • [26:52] Do you do anything intentionally to document the history of the family?
  • [28:10] Is there a 5th generation already involved or interested in the business?
  • [29:40] The Evolution of the family business under Julie.
  • [32:58] Julie describes one of her most significant failures.
  • [37:25] Is there potentially another chapter for you beyond your journey with the family business?
  • [38:10] Julie's letter to her kids

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Episode Links

  • Premier Dental Product Company — Premier Dental Products Company is a global dental manufacturing business that creates, develops and manufactures innovative consumables for oral health professionals worldwide.