When the commercial property market declined in 1989 Pine turned his attention back to his dental laboratory business which had been operating without direction during the Pine Construction and Development years. Only now his approach to dentistry was different as he had acquired experience as a dental technician, a commercial property developer and held a Master of Business Administration degree having completed the 3 year executive programme at the University of Auckland in 1990.
The economic and political environment of the time also played a part in what was to follow. The government had adopted free market policies and sold several entities that were traditionally the domain of the public service such as telecommunications and post. It had also moved to deregulate many industries, including dentistry which at the time was restricted to a small elite who protected themselves from competition by restricting advertising and the ownership of dental practices. The dental profession also confined the practise of dentistry to qualified dentists and school dental nurses by preventing hygienists from cleaning teeth and dental technicians from fitting dentures direct to the public. When these restrictions were removed in 1988 Pine was the first to recognise the commercial opportunities that it created. He focussed his dental laboratory business on making and supplying dentures direct to the public and began advertising in the newpaper. Then in October 1988 he purchased Geddes Dental Renovations. Geddes Dental was founded in 1945 by a dental technician, Harry Geddes who became infamous in Auckland in the 1950s and 1960s by advertising his denture repair services extensively on radio with a catchy jingle the tune of “Clementine”:
“Broke my dentures, broke my dentures, Woe is me, what shall I do. Take it into Mr Geddes and he’ll fix it just like new. What’s the address, what’s the adress, Hurry please and tell me do. Top of Queen Street on the corner, and the number’s 492.”
When Harry Geddes died in 1972 Geddes Dental Renovations was sold to Neil Watts who in turn sold it to Pine 16 years later, but by then its revenues had declined to $120,000 per year and it employed just 3 people.
To utilise the established brand name Pine merged his dental operations in 1990 as the Geddes Dental Group. Ten years later Pine had successfully built up his business to include 110 employees, 14 branches (including three in Melbourne), three mobile units catering to secondary schools and an annual turnover of $10 million, making it Australasia’s largest private dental practice.