We meet Paul Adams at Dental Directory’s headquarters in Essex. Just three months into his tenure things have already begun to change under his leadership and he’s keen to stress there is much more to come.
‘Dental Directory’s not been in business for more than 45 years for nothing. We’re successful and passionate about what we do, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t carry on bettering ourselves. After all, doing what you’ve always done will only deliver the results you’ve always got,’ Paul says.
Instead, Paul wants Dental Directory to be innovators, to do things differently and he hints at plans to streamline its position as the only ‘one-stop-shop’ offering in the industry under one brand identity.
‘I want us to be perceived as more than a wholesaler of dental consumables – after all our service line is very much more than that.
‘We plan to build on our successes as being the only full solution for dental professionals, a partner who they turn to for support, training and value, as well as the equipment and products they need for their everyday practice.’
But just how does the managing director plan to achieve that?
The answer, Paul says is through a fresh perspective and big investment to take Dental Directory, and its customers to the next level.
‘Our mission is to do this by investing and improving our offering, our service and simplifying dealing with Dental Directory. This will enable us to become the first choice for practice solutions in the UK and Northern Ireland.’
A seven-figure investment
Although it is still in the early stages of development, this vision is all part of a three-year plan created by Paul and his leadership team, which will see the company investing a seven-figure sum in the business, including £3 million in IT development.
‘Our three-year plan involves making the process of shopping with us easier across all of the service divisions. In fact, I don’t want customers to consider us as a collection of many brands or services, but instead a single source of what they need and that will be reflected in how we market ourselves, the customer experience we offer and where investment will be placed within the business.
‘We’ll be putting significant investment into our infrastructure across operations and making large improvements to how we offer our full-service line so it’s
more integrated and efficient for our customers.
‘Let’s face it, if we’re not making our customers’ lives easier and doing a job that they are happy with, we’ll be falling at the first hurdle and that’s not something I plan to allow us to do.’
Paul also pledges investment in Dental Directory’s team of more than 600 employees.
‘People are very much at the heart of our three-year plan – our customers and their patients, our team and our suppliers.
‘We’ll be investing in the development of our team, offering greater personal development opportunities and training in key areas such as digital dentistry.’
But Paul isn’t just thinking about long-term changes, he wants customers to start feeling the benefits of his new leadership today. And to do this Paul identified, along with the support of the team, areas where improvements could be made and turned around in his first three months.
For example: ‘We identified a logistical issue that created a block to fulfilling back orders. And that falls way below our expectations and standards for our customers. So, we’ve worked hard to change that and we’re turning it around. In fact, by September any issues will be completely resolved.’
A unique market position
But what about investment in acquisitions? After all the business has been on a spree in recent years having brought facial aesthetics brand Med-Fx, handpiece retailer and service provider Mitec, decontamination specialist Dolby Medical, PDS Dental Laboratory, Torque Orthodontics, and in Northern Ireland consumables wholesaler, BF Mulholland.
‘My focus will be on further integrating those we currently have rather than adding new. Our offering is strong, but that’s not to say if there is a need or an opportunity in the future for growth that we won’t explore it.’
The man behind the brand
He may be new to dentistry, but Paul is by no means new to the pressures and challenges those working in healthcare or with the NHS face. And it’s this experience and appreciation of the hurdles Dental Directory’s customers face that has also influenced his plans for the business.
‘Dentistry has many challenges to overcome, not least the issue of recruitment. There aren’t enough dentists available to do the work and that’s a huge problem. But there are also opportunities, and this is where I think Dental Directory can be more supportive to its customers.
‘We’ve found that private practice is growing around 18% year-on-year, some specialist areas by 30% or more and because of this we’ve expanded our network of experts in the business to offer our customers greater insight into this market and advice on how they can tap into it.
‘Despite the negative press about NHS, the reality is that the industry generally is thriving and worth approximately £10 billion. It’s set to grow about 3-5% a year until 2022 and we want to help our customers take the lion’s share of that growth.
So, what’s next for Dental Directory?
As we wrap up our interview with Paul we ask if he’s able to share more of his three-year plan. ‘The three key parts of our plan are to innovate, improve and invest. And that will continue. Watch this space.’
Paul has more than 20 years’ experience in the consumer products, retail, technology, financial cash management and healthcare sectors, including the manufacture and supply of pharmaceutical and medical device products. He has strong operational and commercial experience gained from his years with Diageo and subsequent time with Smith & Nephew prior to joining as chief operating officer of Talaris, a cash management company (then owned by private equity house, Carlyle, the current coowner of IDH Group).
In 2012 he became chief executive of Talaris and led the business through a successful sale to Glory later that year. He continued as chief executive of Glory until he joined Redeem Group as its chief executive.