Managing Procurement for Aspen Dental

Tim Chambers discusses managing consumables and capital equipment for 1,000+ offices and 2,000+ independent Aspen Dental doctors seeing 35,000 patients a day.

DSOPro: Tell us about your background and what your job entails.

I have a degree in management and information systems, so my early jobs were very IT-centric. I was working with procurement organizations but focused on enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and implementing procure-to-pay systems throughout the organizations.

I started to get more involved in category management and the strategic sourcing side of the business. Eventually that evolved into director of strategic sourcing roles at Kraft Foods Group, then I spent little over 3 years at Walgreens leading their global supply chain procurement organization.

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From there I moved to TAG – The Aspen Group, where I have been working for just over 2 years. I’m currently the VP of Supply Chain and Clinical Goods and Services Sourcing. I’m responsible for all the clinical sourcing at Aspen Dental including, but not limited to, all the consumables in the dental practices, capital equipment, third-party relationships, etc.

DSOPro: What does “category support” encompass?

The team is charged with ensuring that we have quality product available at a fair and equitable price, and that we’re giving the offices and the doctors access to the products they need to run their practices.

We’re tasked with putting together a mutually agreed upon formulary between the corporate clinical team and the independent doctors in the practices. The formulary is a list of consumables and items that are approved for purchase. This is where we can leverage our volume buys and optimize the pricing on them.

Offices are not limited to ordering just those formulary items, but our procurement process helps drive costs down for the practice owners, which is one of the advantages of being part of a DSO.

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My team and I also are responsible for our procurement operations team, which handles issuing purchase orders to the suppliers and ensuring that invoicing and purchase orders are synced up. The team also works with practices to trouble shoot and support any supply chain related issues that may arise in the practice.

We’re always striving to continuously drive out non-value-added costs and activities within the organization and provide a seamless and efficient means to order, receive, and utilize products.

DSOPro: How many offices and practitioners are you working with?

There are more than 1,000 offices and more than 2,000 independent doctors between the Aspen Dental and ClearChoice brands.

DSOPro: How many patients are being treated by those providers?

Combined, the TAG brands see more than 35,000 patients a day and roughly 8 million patients each year.

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DSOPro: Tell us more about TAG - The Aspen Group.

TAG is headquartered in Chicago, but also has offices in Syracuse, New York. We’re one of the largest and fastest growing consumer healthcare support organizations in the United States.

The independent healthcare practices TAG supports operate more than 1,300 locations in 45 states through 5 consumer healthcare brands: Aspen Dental, ClearChoice Dental Implant Center, WellNow Urgent Care, Chapter Aesthetic Studios, and AZPetVet.

We are divided into four distinct categories: dental care, urgent care, veterinary, and medical aesthetics.

TAG is united by the single purpose: to bring better healthcare to more people.

DSOPro: Is there a person at each individual office who works with your team?

That depends. We work with office managers, dental assistants, and specialists and their DAs as well. Everyone has access to the requisition system. To drive efficiency, we try to funnel or limit the number of people who are handling the ordering.

The procurement operations team’s goal is to provide customer service and world-class support to the Aspen Dental offices. If there is turnover or there are individuals who maybe aren’t ordering frequently, we have support processes in place so we can assist and drive those efficiencies in the ordering process through the office.

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DSOPro: Are there differences in procurement across the different verticals that TAG has now?

A lot of it is very similar. As we continue to grow the other healthcare verticals, we’re seeing that the journey and the maturation process that Aspen Dental undertook 20+ years ago is where those other verticals may be starting out. Whether it’s urgent care, medical aesthetics, or veterinary care, we’re starting to expand on support for those businesses. And with that, comes the cultivation of supplier relationships and identifying and beginning strategic partnerships that we hope to maintain as we continuously grow those other verticals. We’re looking for partners willing to come along for the journey and work side by side with us to help us grow the business, not just sell us product. With the experience of getting Aspen Dental where it is now, we’ve got the playbook for how we want to structure supplier relationships in those other healthcare verticals.

DSOPro: What interesting trends are you seeing in terms of procurement and in DSO organizations?

Focusing on procurement, I think we’re still seeing some trickle-down effects from the pandemic, whether it’s raw material availability, labor shortages, overall supply costs, shipping, logistics, etc. We’re still seeing a lot of volatility in the market on those costs.

My team has to ensure that we’re managing those costs and are aware of that volatility and how we can mitigate the risk that comes along with that. Whether it’s through product availability, mitigating price increases, etc.

On the flip side, we’re starting to see some leveling off and returning to pre-pandemic pricing in certain areas. As supply chain and procurement professionals, we have to address the valleys as well as the peaks in the market. We have to ensure that pricing is in line with the industry and with what our suppliers are seeing—whether it’s a distributor network through their manufacturers or our manufacturer-direct relationships.

DSOPro: Are there any painful points that have now pivoted back into a positive place?

I think everybody is experiencing that there is now a surplus of PPE in the market. Obviously, things were touch and go during the pandemic in terms of availability and pricing. The prices we paid during the pandemic were unheard of at that time. But with the saturation of product now in the market, we’re starting to see prices come back down to pre-pandemic level. Obviously, working in healthcare, we’ll always have a large volume of PPE purchases.

As product becomes more available and consolidation of freight forwarders and shippers occurs in the market, I think we’re going to need to keep a keen eye on logistics costs. There are so many components that affect those costs, whether it’s labor, oil, or gas, we need to analyze shipping and logistics to make sure we’re recognizing actual costs within the market.

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DSOPro: What do you think the future holds?

I’m really excited to see what the future holds for TAG. Our expansion and successes in the other verticals demonstrate our strengths as a healthcare support organization, not just a dental support organization. I think that makes us a very unique player in this space. Our proven method and our ability to take the lessons learned from building the Aspen Dental brand lays a great groundwork for how we can continue to grow and evolve the other businesses as well.

Focusing on Aspen Dental, I’m still surprised how ever-changing the industry is. I’m really excited to see what the future holds for dentistry and along with that, how my team can continue to support our organization and our stakeholders. It seems like every day there is a new challenge we’re faced with, or there is new technology being introduced. A perfect example is doing 3D printing within the dental office.

I’m really proud of the team we’ve built here to address the challenges and then work to support the new technologies that we’re adopting. We’ve built a very robust team of people who have experience in a multitude of industries. They’re taking their previous lessons learned and helping us integrate that into the dental space as well.

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About Tim Chambers 


Tim Chambers joined Aspen Dental in January 2021 to lead the Supply Chain function, which includes strategic sourcing, purchasing, and logistics for the Aspen Dental business unit within The Aspen Group. The Supply Chain team at Aspen Dental supports the acquisition of goods and services as well as the logistics for approximately 1,000 dental offices, with the intent to open ~90 new offices a year. The team has been tasked with transforming the function and driving stakeholder value through improvements throughout the supply chain.

Before joining Aspen Dental, Tim led the Global Supply Chain Procurement function for Walgreens Boots Alliance, managing the Supply Chain of Goods Not for Resale and Pharmaceutical distribution across 14,000 retail pharmacies and 9 countries. Previously, Tim held various Procurement and Supply Chain roles within a multitude of Consumer-Packaged Goods (CPG) companies, including leading Procurement Transformation Global MRO Procurement at Tate and Lyle, LLC, North American MRO Procurement responsibilities for Kraft Heinz.

The Aspen Group

Located in Chicago, IL, The Aspen Group (TAG) is one of the largest and most trusted retail healthcare business support organizations in the United States, supporting 20,000 healthcare professionals and team members at more than 1,300 health and wellness offices across 46 states in four distinct categories: dental care, urgent care, animal health, and medical aesthetics.

Working in partnership with independent practice owners and clinicians, the team is united by a single purpose: to prove that healthcare can be better and smarter for everyone. TAG provides a comprehensive suite of centralized business support services that power the impact of five consumer-facing businesses: Aspen Dental, ClearChoice Dental Implant Centers, WellNow Urgent Care, Chapter Aesthetic Studio, and AZ PetVet. Each brand has access to a deep community of experts, tools, and resources to grow their practices, and an unwavering commitment to delivering high-quality consumer healthcare experiences at scale.



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