New MD and Commercial Director for the UK’s No1 Orthodontic Laboratory
16th June 2021
New MD and Commercial Director for the UK’s No1 Orthodontic Laboratory

Ashford Orthodontics is celebrating its 20th year of continuous growth since its inception in 2001, bouncing back from the pandemic even stronger than it already was previously, and currently in the process of doubling in size by extending into the building next door. Ashford puts this success down to strong strategic planning, robust structure, and clear foresight for the future, as well as a totally committed and loyal workforce and management team.

‘’We continually assess previous performance and rigidly scrutinise the structure and mechanism to continue future growth. The unprecedented growth over the last two decades has been because of this and has allowed us to develop and grow a strong managerial structure within the company’’ said Sean Thompson, current Managing Director, and founder of the company.

With this structure firmly established and already showing its value to the company, Ashford feels there has never been a better time to hand over the baton to current Operations Director Craig Stevens, who will assume the role of Managing Director with immediate effect whilst Sean steps aside to enjoy his well-deserved retirement from the end of June. Craig will continue to grow and develop the structure already established over the last 3 years and will oversee the occupation into the new 24,000 sq ft extension next door.

Sean added ‘’Craig has been instrumental in Ashford’s growth and thoroughly deserves the opportunity to take the company even further in the coming years. Ashford has some really exciting up-coming projects and as Craig and I have always been side by side on everything to date, I have no doubt at all that Ashford will continue to go from strength to strength in the future.’’

Craig has been with Ashford as Operations Director since joining in 2006 along with Technical Director Graeme Winyard and the three life-long friends have been instrumental in the extra-ordinary growth of the company over the last 20 years.

Craig added ‘’Sean had the foresight all of those years ago to realise that investment in Digital Technology was the way forward. Along with this significant investment we all worked hard to establish ourselves as the ‘go to’ orthodontic laboratory for every clinician offering orthodontic treatments in the UK and this has provided the foundation for our monumental growth. Personally, I will always be immensely grateful to Sean for giving me the opportunity to flourish within Ashford in the early days, and now equally grateful for the opportunity to take this fantastic company to the next level once again and continue the great work Sean started all of those years ago.’’

The top team also welcomes the addition of current Business Development Manager Rich Dodds stepping up to the new role of Commercial Director. Rich first Joined Ashford as a graduate intern 9 years ago, and after spending 5 years honing his skills at Nike, he returned to the Ashford family to help with its growth strategy. ‘’Many congratulations to Rich and thoroughly well deserved. Rich is  extremely competent and more than capable of operating at this level and fully deserves this recognition for all of his hard work and dedication. More importantly for Ashford though is that he’s such a great lad with great values and I’m certain he’ll continue to drive Ashford in the right direction going forward.’’ said Sean.

Rich added ‘’I’m delighted to be taking up this new role within Ashford. I’ve been working really closely with Sean since re-joining from Nike, and the relationships I’ve forged in this time are invaluable to the company. I’m really looking forward to continuing the great work Sean has put into the company over the last 20 years and I’ve learned so much from his almost 40 years in the profession during this time.’’

Ashford is currently recruiting for more staff to join its 70 plus workforce at its Sunderland headquarters in Southwick, whilst also promoting several current members of the team to supervisory and managerial positions.

Sean has worked in the profession for almost 40 years and has developed a wealth of experience, expertise and connections which is second to none and this has firmly established him as one of the industries most trusted professionals. He has also developed a wide range of interests outside of the profession and is looking forward to spending time following his passions outside of the Lab.

Ashford became a founder member of the growing ALS group in 2020 and their passion and desire to support Craig and the Ashford team going forward will no doubt result in even greater success for the company in coming years.

Craig added ‘’ Sean will still be working closely with the ALS board going forward, so his years of experience will still be readily available to call on if Ashford ever needs it, so I’ve no doubt we’ll still be seeing a lot of the ‘Ashfather’ in the coming months and years! Seriously though, he will be a massive miss on a daily basis around the lab, but we all know that his passion for Ashford, the profession and the City of Sunderland will still remain as a dominant driver for the company going forward. We all wish him the very best of health and happiness for the future as he struggles by on golf courses in sunnier climates, and we’ll always be eternally grateful for his vision and determination which has firmly established Ashford as the UK’s number 1 Orthodontic Laboratory in the UK’’