The people behind the people – Gary Chapman

Gary ChapmanIn the first of a series of articles Ken Finlayson gives a background on key figures within the profession, kicking off with Gary Chapman.

In all walks of life, there are people that we appreciate. But some quarters don’t always give them the respect that they deserve.

It’s no different in dentistry, and there are a few I would like to highlight over the coming months. 

First up is Gary Chapman, director of mergers and acquisitions for UK and Europe at Portman Dental Care.

Gary has influenced the dental profession in ways that are ultimately hard to define yet continues to have a profound impact. 

Gary Chapman background

I have known Gary for more years than I care to imagine.

He has been largely responsible for the acceptance of corporate dentistry in the dental landscape as we know it today.

Along with his CEO Sam Waley-Cohen – another man that has set the corporate dentistry scene – they have built a business that is hugely respected in the dental space.

We say that a good reputation is hard to gain and easy to lose.

I believe the best acknowledgement of what you do and how you do it is when your colleagues – and competitors – have respect for you in the given field that you choose to work. 

Gary is always first to highlight the business leaders he’s worked with.

‘I have worked with two wonderful people,’ he once told me.

‘Firstly, my apprenticeship with James Hull was an experience I will never forget.

‘He taught me the essence of “cutting a deal”. 

‘Secondly, and presently, Sam Waley-Cohen; a hugely driven man, both kind and fair, whilst an absolute pleasure to work for.

‘Both these men have different ways but have equally set corporate dentistry alight with their visions during their time.’

Portman journey

When I met Gary at the start of his Portman journey, he exclaimed: ‘We are going to build the best and most respected group in the country, if not the world!’

I must admit, I thought this was more of a pipe dream.

However, with nearly 200 practices in the UK, plus 40 practices in Ireland, Belgium and Norway, and on the brink of breaking into the German and French markets, I think he’s achieving that goal. 

It’s a very impressive performance for someone who started out as a dental technician nearly 40 years ago.

Gary is not an individual that wants to have his name in lights, but certainly is someone that I – and so many others in dentistry – have huge respect for.

He has a terrific reputation for what he contributed to dentistry over the course of his career.

Years of success!

Gary tells me he has been involved in more than 250 acquisitions in his time of brokering mergers and acquisitions. A truly mind-boggling number of deals. 

His ‘acid test’ is that he believes in the character of a person; that what we say is more important than what we write down.

The result of this means that nearly all of the deals that he has brokered over the years have been a great success. 

Portman is, in no small part, a reflection of Gary’s personality and vision. As well as his connection with Sam and other leaders in the business.

He has helped the Portman team build something that is hugely respected within our dental world and with his ongoing drive this will only go from strength-to-strength.

Gary Chapman, I salute you.

Here’s to many more years of success! 

For more information on Portman, please visit

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar