‘There are signs of complacency’

I am up at 6.30am, but slow to wake up. My children Joanna (17) and Oliver (15) are more independent, so the most I do is drop one or other off at a bus stop. We have been fortunate that my wife, Laura, has run her business from home so has been able to be on the spot for any domestic crises.

I start at around 8.00am as the cleaners finish, unless it is a morning that I go to the gym in which case it is nearer 9.00am. My journey to work means driving north up the A1(M) against the traffic. It takes 30-40 minutes to get to our Stevenage offices [dental equipment suppliers, Plandent Limited] in Hertfordshire.

I try to start – and end – the day with a clear desk. I aim to get around the office and
warehouse, although now they are in separate locations it is less easy.

I seem to improve as the day progresses, so I guess I’m not really a morning person.
When I am in the office I deal with emails as they arrive and use my PDA when on the move.

They soon mount up if left.

Today, I have three interviews and two meetings. I very rarely take a lunchbreak; I tend to eat at my desk unless I am meeting others from outside the company.

Some days I am looking at dental product issues, others computer matters. There could be staff management issues. I could be checking trade statistics matters (I chair the British Dental Trade Association statistics committee) or dealing with a legal or regulatory issue. These days the red tape is horrendous.

Has the role of the British Dental Health Foundation changed enormously since 1971? Well, I have only been directly involved in the last 10 years or so but, in that time, it has become more oral health-focused, taking the lead in the Mouth Cancer Awareness Month. It continues to provide a helpline, but the change in technology means that we now also provide support

In 2010, the BDHF is starting to deploy social media such as Twitter.

It’s a more important role to play now. Despite the fact that our children are now much more aware than my generation, there are signs that complacency has resulted in a resurgence in poor oral health in certain parts of the population. The bigger challenge is to get the public to see the importance of dental health alongside other health issues, instead of as an afterthought. My original inspiration was – and is – my father, John. His tremendous enthusiasm for all matters dental is infectious. In latter years, Dennis Caroll – who sadly died last year – got me involved in the BDHF.

How innovative has BDHF been in changing attitudes to dental health? Well, it has a fantastic team in Rugby who are open to exploring ideas to changing attitudes. This can be different themes to the National Smile Month; ways of getting the message to the public. The Foundation is well supported by the Trustee Board which is representative of the dental world.

The dental industry’s big attraction is that, within it, the politics are minimal. It is small enough that most people know each other well and, whether competitors, suppliers or customers, work together pretty well.

My original plan was to become an accountant, but then I became more interested in more commercial aspects. I got drawn into the dental world and, after nearly 30 years, have been happy with that choice.

I am home between 7pm and 8pm. We eat as a family as many nights as possible, sharing the issues of the day. Bedtime is somewhere before midnight.

Outside of work, the Radlett Light Operatic Society does take a fairly large chunk of my spare time as we do two shows a year, each with a one-week run. The shows range from Gilbert and Sullivan to Guys and Dolls. I love walking with as many of my family as will come, skiing when I can and I potter in the garden. We play the
occasional game of bridge.

When I read a book, it tends to be around or on holidays and is an absorbing fiction, currently Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Deception.

Over the years, Plandent has reflected the changes in the dental market. Twenty-five years ago, it was normal for dental dealers to have their branches stocked locally. Now, irrespective of showroom locations, stock is central.

Computers play a central part in the day to day. Dentists can order by computer, via our reps or by calling the office. The Planmeca equipment we sell is also computer driven so
that the imaging, practice management software and unit all communicate with each other. However, one thing has not changed; the  delivery of quality products to the dental surgery on time and at a good price; that’s our primary focus. We have a great management team at Plandent so, when I am involved in BDHF matters, there should be no detriment to the company.

I am passionate about dental health and, when I am given an opportunity, will be a vocal president. I want the Foundation to explore other ways of getting our message over, possibly directly through employers or schools as well.

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