The Benco Story


 


Benco Dental's founder, Benjamin Cohen, got his start in 1922 traveling from train station to train station with a 100-pound suitcase filled with dental instruments.The seeds of Benco Dental were planted in 1922 by Benjamin J. Cohen, a Russian immigrant living in Philadelphia. At the age of 19, Ben began his dental career with a 100-pound case of hand instruments that he peddled to dentists throughout Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Ohio.

The company was officially founded in 1930, when, after eight years of travel, Ben decided to settle his one-man operation in Wilkes-Barre. He opened a store in one room of the Miner's Bank (now the Citizen's Bank) Building. Ben named his operation Benco, contracting his first and last names, and began to sell merchandise and teeth to local dentists and labs, although the company carried only 25 merchandise lines and one tooth line. Memorabilia dating from this period is on display in the front of our world headquarters in Pittston, PA.

By 1959, Benco had grown to four outside salesmen — Ben Cohen, Merle Kester, Joe Dellarte and rookie Larry Cohen — and about 500 customers. Tony Minichowski and Telle Price handled the inside operations. Benco became truly full-service when we added our first full-time outside service technician in 1963. In 1967, the company, having outgrown the 2,500 square foot space on the fifth floor of the bank building, moved into a brand new 7,200 square foot store at 10 Hill Street in Wilkes-Barre. Larry Cohen (Ben's son) became Benco's President in 1969 and prospects for the future looked excellent.

Benjamin Cohen
Benjamin Cohen 
Benco Dental in the Miner's Bank Building
Benco Dental in the Miner's Bank building 
Lawrence Cohen
Larry Cohen 

Benco suffered a major setback at the hands of Hurricane Agnes during the flood of 1972, when the building was submerged under eight and one-half feet of river water. Then, in October of that same year, Benjamin Cohen passed away. The company, now led by Larry, recovered from Agnes and continued to grow. In 1980, Benco moved into a brand new 26,000 square foot location, high above the flood plain at 11 Bear Creek Boulevard (later known as "Big Ben"). Three subsequent additions more than tripled the size of this facility.

The 1987 addition proved to be not enough space for a rapidly growing Benco. In 1990, a new warehouse addition of approximately 43,200 square feet was added, followed by a 9,600 square foot mezzanine. This brought Benco's total square footage of space up to 96,423. Benco later added a satellite warehouse located on North Pennsylvania Avenue (later known as "Little Ben"), adding another 30,550 square feet. The Little Ben location was further expanded to include the relocation of the Wilkes-Barre showroom, as well as the relocation of certain departments formerly housed at the Big Ben location. The total square footage of space at Little Ben was 71,808.

 Main St. Wilkes-Barre after Agnes
1972 - Wilkes-Barre, PA after the Agnes flood. 
 Benco Dental's third headquarters in Wilkes-Barre
Benco Dental's third headquarters in Wilkes-Barre, PA 

Benco continues to be cutting edge in its material handling and computerization. Our computer system is constantly being updated to accommodate our ever-increasing information load. A state of the art Intranet has further enhanced electronic communications among associates. In addition, our "Painless" materials management system grew to become the industry leader. In April 2000, we completed a total overhaul of our main computer system by installing a brand new state of the art software package called Prelude. In 2002, we completed a major conveyor modification in our Wilkes-Barre warehouse to meet the increasing customer orders. We have also opened our second, third and fourth major warehouse/distribution facilities in Jacksonville, Florida (2002), Fort Wayne, Indiana (2003) and Grapevine, Texas (2005) in order to provide even better levels of customer service and increase our market share. In June 2011, Benco Dental's fifth major distribution center opened in Reno, Nevada to support our westward expansion.

 BluChip Catalog
BluChip Catalog 
Painless Ordering Software
Painless Ordering 

Benco has approximately 1,200 associates and continues to expand, both geographically and in the services/programs we offer. An example of a newer service is BencoNET, which provides computer networks, equipment and technology, offering the widest selection of software and hardware so that we can customize a system for each dental office. Benco's acquisition of high-quality privately-owned dental supply/equipment companies supports our significant growth initiative, as we continue our quest to be an independent national dental company.

In December 2009, Benco raised the curtain on our new, 272,800 square foot, state-of-the-art headquarters and distribution center in Pittston, PA. The Benco headquarters at CenterPoint also doubles as our largest distribution center. In the warehouse, over two miles of "Smart Conveyer" ensures the safe, efficient and complete delivery of customer orders to their final destinations. The warehouse also features an automated sensor system that is able to accurately direct all order traffic to the correct aisles, which greatly aids the speed and accuracy of each packaged order. This facility serves as a model for all new distribution centers.

In the office space, the CenterPoint facility boasts a clean, green and lean take on all things. The outside of the office building is punctuated by dozens of floor-to-ceiling windows, which allow for natural light to flow into work space making electrical lighting nearly obsolete in many departments. In addition, all cubicles in the building are lowheight to maximize the flow of this natural light. Paper, can, and cardboard recycling containers can be found all over the building, emphasizing Benco's commitment to an eco-friendly workplace.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the CenterPoint location is the showroom, which features 25 fully-functioning operatories and products from dozens of vendors. Each operatory is equipped with different flooring, wall coverings,and countertops, allowing for customers to truly visualize a new office space. Furthermore, the showroom is home to a state-of-the-art digital imaging suite which displays 14 operational digital x-rays offering both 2D and 3D imaging.

 

The Cohen Family
Larry, Rick, Chuck and Sally Cohen 
CenterPoint
CenterPoint Headquarters 

 

The third generation of Cohen leadership began when Larry's sons joined the business. Chuck Cohen joined Benco in 1989 and Rick Cohen joined in 1994. Today, Chuck and Rick jointly lead the company as executive managing directors, working closely with a team of professional managers.

Benco Dental is the largest independent, family owned dental distributor in the United States. We have over 400 outside sales people serving over 30,000 customers across the country. Benco owes its success to our associates—the people who make it happen on a day-to-day basis. We are a progressive and aggressive company that believes if you are coasting, you must be going downhill.

 

  • 1922—A 19-year-old Russian immigrant, Benjamin Cohen, fills a suitcase with 100 pounds of dental instruments from Premier Dental, traveling by train, selling to customers within walking distance of train stations in PA, NJ, NY and OH, incorporating Benco Dental Supply Co. in 1924.
  • 1930—Benco Dental opens its first depot in a 250-square foot space in The Miners Bank Building, Wilkes-Barre, PA. At this time, Benco Dental sells 25 merchandise lines and one tooth line.
  • 1959—Following college and a brief stint in the military, Benjamin's son Lawrence joins a dozen associates at Benco Dental, now serving approximately 500 customers. He's named Benco Dental's President in 1969.
  • 1964—Benco Dental hires its first service tech to repair and maintain customers' equipment.
  • 1969—Unable to continue a growing business in its current confines, Benco Dental transitions to a larger, standalone, 7,200-square-foot space on Hill St. in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
  • 1972—Hurricane Agnes devastates Wilkes-Barre, washing out Benco's operations. Undaunted, Lawrence and his team rebuild the company and re-establish prominence in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
  • 1980—In an effort to escape the flood plain and house the business' growth, Benco constructs and moves into a new, 26,000-square foot headquarters. The company consists of 57 associates, including 14 sales reps.
  • 1989—Charles Cohen, Lawrence's first son, joins Benco Dental, establishing a presence in New York City. Within the first two years, he becomes an award-winning salesman.
  • 1992—Benco Dental consists of five showrooms and 322 associates with 10,000 customers in 12 states, shipping more than 2,000 packages per day.
  • 1994—Richard Cohen, Lawrence's second son, joins Benco Dental with the goal of creating an e-Commerce platform, revolutionizing Benco's technology infrastructure and operations.
  • 1995—Benco launches Painless, the industry's first Windows-based e-Commerce computer system.
  • 1996—Benco introduces the BluChip Buying Club, dentistry's most rewarding customer loyalty program with rewards including restaurant gift cards to luxury vacations.
  • 1998—Benco achieves $100 million in sales.
  • 2001—Benco Dental opens a second distribution center in Jacksonville, Florida.
  • 2003—Benco Dental opens a third distribution center in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
  • 2005—Benco Dental opens a fourth distribution center in the Dallas, Texas area.
  • 2009—Benco Dental ships almost 2,000,000 packages per year with an error rate of .2775 errors per 1,000 lines picked.
  • 2010—Benco Dental opens CenterPoint, North America's largest dental equipment showroom, serving over 30,000 customers in all 50 states.
  • 2011—Benco Dental opens its fifth distribution center in Reno, Nevada. The 120,000-square-foot facility services the western coast of the United States. In December, Benco Dental opened it's Los Angeles branch - this office will service the Southern California market.
  • 2012—Benco Dental opens a second CenterPoint Experience showroom in Costa Mesa, California. The CenterPoint Experience brings together the largest selection of major equipment lines and categories, side by side, under one roof.