Our Department Managers are active technicians who oversee department operations & perform quality control functions throughout each stage of production. Regular manager meetings facilitate open lines of communication to maximize productivity & efficiency.
Steven J. Blake, Co-Manager of our Metal Crown & Bridge & Manager of our Quality Assurance Department, joined Friendship in 1981. After 20 years of hands-on experience as a technician in multiple departments within the lab, Steve transitioned to Management in Crown & Bridge. He is a dedicated, hard-working perfectionist, with an eye for detail, a passion for the industry & a drive to always excel.
MARY COXON – Quality Control
Mary, Quality Control Manager began working in our Crown & Bridge Metal Department in 1982, fabricating wax-ups & metal frameworks. After gaining hands-on experience in the Porcelain Department & comprehensive knowledge of all our crown & bridge products, she transitioned to management. Mary interacts with our doctors on a daily basis, calling with questions regarding shades, materials, margins, etc. She manages work flow within the departments & checks outgoing cases for precision & accuracy.
DJ DAMRON – Model
DJ manages the Model Department in our Fixed lab. He joined our team in 2008 as a Model Technician & has had extensive training in all aspects the Department. DJ’s motto & encouragement to his team is “Do it right the first time”. He understands the importance of fabricating & articulating a precise model, as it is the foundation of every case. DJ’s great organizational & leadership skills help the Department run smoothly & efficiently.
SAVAS KILLIAS – Die Trimming
Savas, Die Trimming Manager, joined our team in 1991 & received his certification in SPA (Simplified Posterior Anatomy) through PTC (Productivity Training Corporation). He has worked in several departments within the lab; Model, CAD/CAM & Removable. His primary duties include trimming dies, overseeing the department, casting metal & accepting digital intra-oral scan files from Cadent iTero, Lava COS & 3M True Definition. Savas enjoys interacting with our doctors on a daily basis to ensure their preferences are met. With his attention to detail, he strives for a perfect, passive fit, producing consistent, high-quality work.
MATTHEW BERGEN, CDT – Crown & Bridge – Metal
Matthew co-manages the Metal Crown & Bridge Department, e.max® & Sculpture Departments. He also assists with the flow of our Cadent Itero & 3m True Definition scans. His dental career began in 1982 as a Crown & Bridge technician. He joined our team in 2010 working in Ceramics & Implants, then moved on to waxing & casting PFM’s. Matt received his CDT certification in Nov 2015.
TONY VLASSIS, CDT – Crown & Bridge – Ceramics
Tony manages our Ceramic, e.max® & Porcelain Fused to Zirconia (PFZ) departments. He graduated from The Polytechnic Institute & University of Maryland in Baltimore, starting his dental career as one of our first employees in 1976. He has had the unique opportunity of working closely with the area’s leading universities, dentists, prosthodontists & patients. He is highly qualified as a consultant in complex, inter-departmental, full-mouth restorations, product selections, custom shades, cementation options & dental adhesives.
SANDY ZAGRAIEK – Crown & Bridge – Ceramics
Sandy co-manages our Sculpture Full-Contour Zirconia Department, as well as our Ceramic Department with Tony Vlassis, CDT. Her dental career began in 1980, opaquing in the department. She received PTC Certifications in Simplified Posterior Anatomy, Contouring Anterior & Posterior Bridges, Anterior & Posterior Porcelain Application & Color In Dental Ceramics. As a senior technician & highly skilled ceramist, Sandy oversees the fit & contour of our Sculpture Full-Contour Zirconia & PFM restorations. Her specialties include implants, large anterior cases & challenging repairs.
LISA CRANDELL- e.max®
Lisa manages our e.max® Department. She joined our team in 1988 as a Ceramist & was trained by Tony Vlassis, CDT & Sandy Zagraiek. Lisa received PTC Certifications in Dental Anatomy & Anterior Contours. With an attention to detail & a clear understanding of ingot selection & shade computation, she specializes in large, esthetically-challenging anterior cases. Lisa enjoys the fast-paced dynamics of the dental industry & gains satisfaction in knowing that her work makes a positive impact on patients’ lives.
Dena, Co-Manager of our CAD/CAM Department, joined our team in 2005. Mentored by Director of Training, Robin L. Robinson, CDT, Dena worked for 6 years in the Porcelain Department. She received certificates from PTC for Anterior & Posterior Porcelain Application & Simplifying Posterior Dental Anatomy.
Dena has been an integral part of the CAD/CAM Department since its inception in 2009. As Co-Manager with Valanti Diacoloukas, Dena oversees the Department, performs daily design functions & works closely with our doctors. She manages our Trios, DDX (Planmeca) & Carestream systems. Her strong work ethic & dedication to learning the latest technologies creates a high level of efficiency. She excels in larger, challenging restorations & is excited to see what the future holds for the dental industry.
Valanti co-manages our CAD/CAM Department with Dena Hehring. He started working with us during the summers of 2009 & 2010, mentored by his grandfather & founder, Gus Diacoloukas. In 2011, Valanti came on board full-time in our e.max® Department, spruing & investing. He received comprehensive hands-on-training from his dad, Nick Diacoloukas & specialized training on the Weiland mill. Valanti shares the family passion for the industry, as he manages our MCX5 & Weiland mills & our CEREC & 3shape systems.
MIKE BACKOFF, CDT – Implant
Mike, Manager of our Implant Department, obtained his CDT status in 1993. He joined the United States Army’s dental division as a technician in 1981. From 1981 to 1996, he worked in a small, high-quality lab where he trained technicians across various levels of experience. For nine of those years, he was an in-house technician for a perio-prosthodontist, where he acquired his implant experience. He joined the Friendship family in 2003, working in the Crown & Bridge, Implant & Ceramic Departments & has been managing the Implant Department since 2008. Mike excels in the design & fabrication of difficult prosthodontic/implant cases. He conducts individual training seminars for Implant Specialists to keep them informed on new products & technologies.
KIRSTEN HUGHES – Digital Implant Tx Planning & Guided Surgery
Kirsten, our Digital Implant Coordinator, joined our CAD/CAM Department in 2012 as a master scanner and troubleshooter. In 2014, she transitioned into the Implant Department with Mike Backoff, CDT and 35-year senior Implant Department Manager/ Technician. Mike brings the “old school” hands-on/analog experience and Kirsten brings the “new school” computer technology. When combined, they bring the best of both worlds to accommodate your every need.
Kirsten works with our doctors in Digital Treatment Planning of Surgical Guides as well as scanning and designing implant-related CAD/CAM products; abutments, bars, bridges, ASC Frameworks & IOS Implant Scanning. Her dedication and commitment help ensure the long term success of your cases from start to finish.
CHRIS COOK, CDT – Implant
Chris, Assistant Manager of our Implant Department, has been an Implant Specialist since 2008. He started in our Model Department in 1991 and transitioned a year later to Crown & Bridge. Identified at a young age as gifted and talented throughout school, Chris excelled most in fine arts. His passion is using his creativity to design implant abutments, hader bars & hybrid frameworks. Chris obtained his C.D.T. in 2015.
RICK WIDES, AA, CDT – Implant-Removable Prosthetics
Rick, Manager of our Implant/Removable Prosthetics Department, began his dental career in 1979. He specializes in pre-surgical case design, surgical guide stents, screw retained hybrids, attachment selection, overdentures and coordination of all aspects of combination implant and conventional C&B/Removable cases. Rick performs Chairside Conversions for Screw-Retained Hybrid cases, traveling to your specialist’s office. Graduating from Montgomery College in 1978 with an A.A.,R.G. in Dental Technology, Rick received his CDT in Complete Dentures & Removable Partials in 1980. Certified by every major implant system, he was a previous instructor for Branemark, 3i’s Synergy Training Program, Sulzer Dental Peer Practicum, Dentsply Paragon and Biohorizons Implant Systems. In addition to owning his own lab for 17 years, Rick worked with the NIH Dental Clinic, Bethesda Naval Hospital Clinic, Bethesda Dental School and the Dental Research Department at the Bureau of Standards.
ROY LEVINE, CDT – Implant-Removable Prosthetics
Roy’s dental career began in 1979. After owning & operating a full-service dental lab in Western Maryland for 29 years, he joined our team in 2012 as Manager of our Ceramic Department. Due to his extensive knowledge of implant-supported prosthetics, he relocated to our Removable Lab, located at 6826 Eastern Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland. Roy now oversees daily operations as Manager of our Implant/Removable Prosthetics Department. Roy is available to discuss questions and concerns regarding complex, hybrid cases.
GUS KARAGIANOPOULOS, CDT – Removable
Gus, Manager of our Removable Department, joined our team in 1979 as a Crown & Bridge Technician, then 2 years later transitioned to working with removables. With dedication, passion & exceptional artistic skills, Gus is a master at his craft. He & his team have been an integral part of the growth of our Removable Department and he is most excited about the addition of CAD/CAM Digital Dentistry. Gus takes pride in knowing that his work positively impacts patients’ lives.
LOLA GIKAS – Removable
Lola, Assistant Manager of our Removable Department, joined our team in 1996 as a Denture Technician. She has worked with every component & product within our Removable Department, but her expertise is with the setup & creation of premium-quality dentures. Lola has had the distinct privilege of being trained by Gus Karagianopoulos, CDT & former Owner Gus Diacoloukas, CDT Lola directly communicates with our doctors & their staff in the effort to determine the most appropriate products for their patients.
BRIAN JONES, CDT – Cast-Partial
Brian, Manager of our Cast Partial Department, has been a Dental Technician since 1996. In 2008, he joined our Crown & Bridge Department, then transitioned into our Partial Department alongside his father Buddy, who at that time was our Cast Partial Department Manager. Buddy mentored Brian, provided formal training & taught him the fundamentals of cast framework design and fabrication. With an attention to detail & a passion for the industry, Buddy & Brian make a great team, as they still work together today.
DAVE JOHNSON, CDT – Salisbury Lab
Dave, Manager of our Salisbury Lab, was born and raised on the Eastern Shore. He started his dental career in 1984, working at Delmarva Dental Lab with master technician Lee Twilley. Dave moved to the Western shore to further his career & gain experience with all facets of dental technology, including certifications in e.max®, empress & all up-to-date implant solutions, including Nobel Biocare, Straumann, Zimmer Biomet, etc.
Dave owned & operated his own full-service lab in Salisbury for 8 years, before merging D & S Dental Lab with Friendship in 2013. “Joining Friendship was a great move & I am very excited to be a part of the Friendship Family, rewarding the Eastern Shore Community with high quality products & personalized services.”