A NEW boss has been appointed at the UK’s largest orthodontic lab, which is based in the North-East, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, has revealed current operations director Craig Stevens will replace managing director and founder Sean Thompson when he retires at the end of this month.

Sean said: “We’re in great shape and have bounced back from the pandemic even stronger than we were when it began.

“We continually assess performance and scrutinise the structure and mechanism to continue future expansion.”

Sean said continuous growth over the last two decades has helped create a strong managerial team.

He said: “With this structure firmly established there has never been a better time to hand over the baton to Craig.

“He 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 projects coming up and as Craig and I have always grown the company side by side, I have no doubt 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 extraordinary growth of the company over the last 20 years.

Craig added: ‘’Sean had the foresight all those years ago to realise that investment in digital technology was the way forward.

“Along with this significant investment we 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.

“I will always be immensely grateful to Sean for giving me the opportunity to flourish within Ashford, and I’m now equally grateful for the opportunity to take this fantastic company to the next level and continue the great work Sean started all of those years ago.’’

Ashford’s managerial team has also been strengthened by the addition of current business development manager Rich Dodds who steps up to the new role of commercial director.

Rich first Joined Ashford as a graduate intern nine years ago, and after spending five years honing his skills at Nike, he returned to Ashford to help with its growth strategy.

Sean said: “Rich is extremely competent and more than capable of operating at this level.

“He fully deserves this recognition for all of his hard work and dedication.

“More importantly for Ashford, though, is he has great values and I’m certain he’ll continue to drive Ashford in the right direction going forward.”

Rich added: “I’m delighted to be taking up this new role within Ashford.”

Several other members of Ashford’s workforce have been promoted to supervisory or managerial positions and the company is looking for more staff to join its 70-plus team at its Southwick headquarters.