At the Helm: Julie Charlestein

By Patricia Olsen

A few minutes with the president and CEO of Premier Dental Products Company, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

Generation of family ownership: Fourth.

About the company: We have a corporate office [in the Philadelphia suburbs] and a manufacturing facility in Philadelphia. We develop, manufacture and distribute innovative consumables for the oral health professional (dentists and hygienists) around the world.

Number of employees: 160.

Years with the company: 15.

First job at this company: Product manager. I was responsible for the launch and subsequent development of our ultrasonic insert line, for use in hygiene appointment tooth cleaning. It gave me the opportunity to learn many aspects of the business and how they all interfaced.

At what age? 29.

Best thing about this job: The people, the energy, the variety, and knowing we’re helping people’s lives in delivering good oral health.

One of our greatest successes: Making the transition from the last generation, and maintaining and increasing the success that we’ve had. This has been done with respect, with love and with important counsel.

Best advice I ever got: You need to share your successes, burdens and anxieties with others, with a core group of people who will just listen or help and guide. That could be an advisory board, family business consultants or even your core group at your company. As amazing as you might be, you can’t just internalize everything.

Quote from our company’s mission statement: To drive relevance through targeted innovation, select partnership, brand strength and human capital.

On my desk: A rock that has our company name and logo with our tagline, “Inspired solutions for daily dentistry.” Under that are our four pillars: meaningful innovation, deeply connected, standard-setting solutions, and undeniably proven.

One of my greatest accomplishments: An early achievement that really impacted my future as a leader was licensing technology from a major consumer. That helped us develop a related product, which in turn helped us to become leaders in the category. This then gave us a platform to develop even more products and served as the next evolutionary phase in our business.

Best thing about working in a family business: The sense of pride it gives me.

Worst thing about working in a family business: Sometimes you have to be two [different] people with your family, especially with those who aren’t working in the business.

My advice for other family business leaders: Compartmentalize, especially with family members. You need to be able to emotionally separate business issues from other issues.

On a day off I like to … hang out with my husband and kids, especially outdoors or on the water. If I don’t have much time, I like to go to the movies.

Philanthropic causes our family supports: Dental causes that include Give Kids a Smile (offering free healthcare to kids who don’t have access to oral care) and Dental Volunteers for Israel (a clinic that helps all ethnicities and religions there). In addition, we are involved with the University of Pennsylvania Dental School, the Temple University Dental School and the ALS Association (a non-profit that advocates for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Book I think every family business leader should read: The Trust by Susan Tifft and Alex Jones, about the New York Times.

I realized I had emerged from the previous generation’s shadow when … I never felt like I was in anyone’s shadow. However, once my father said he had gone to a meeting and someone asked, “Oh, are you Julie’s dad?” That made him very happy.

Future succession plans: There are lots of possibilities. I have two children, 16 and 13, who could both run the business.

Words I live by: My grandfather had two adages, “Remember who you are” and “The dollar is round.” Essentially, always be aware of who you are, what your values are, and what and who you represent. In terms of the dollar, this speaks to the responsibility around wealth, finances and philanthropy.

Copyright 2018 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact

Article categories: 
September/October 2018

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