A unique dental lab in Cardiff future-proofs its operations thanks to a significant financial package.

Precision Full Service Dental Laboratory is Wales’s only full service dental laboratory, offering a wide range of Crown & Bridge, Orthodontic, Prosthetics and Thermo Formed appliances and services. Following a period of rapid expansion, Richard Anthony and his fellow directors turned to the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service for support to grow the business and safeguard its position despite challenges brought about by Brexit.

  • relationship management support with expansion and investment
  • 6 jobs created since 2017
  • 16 jobs safeguarded thanks to provision of new advanced equipment
  • total investment of £176,995 secured via multiple funders

Introduction to business

Founded by James Anthony in Cardiff in 2007, Precision started life as an orthodontic laboratory and quickly grew into Wales’ only full service dental laboratory. The business manufactures crown and bridge restorations, dentures, orthodontic appliances and clear aligners, as well as thermos-formed appliances including night guard retainers and whitening trays.

What challenges have you faced due to Brexit?

Since the Brexit referendum in 2016, we have experienced a number of adverse effects:

  • Time delays with the supply of materials and equipment (a large proportion comes from EU countries).
  • Increased supplier costs for materials and equipment. Anecdotally, a German manufactured extractor unit increased its value by approx. 25% following the referendum.
  • There are many skilled lab technicians and lower skilled dental technicians from the continent working in the UK. A Senior Orthodontic Laboratory technician working for Precision is a Polish national. Losing freedom of movement is likely to mean a more limited HR resource pool pushing costs up.

Why did you apply for the Brexit Resilience Grant?

Larger dental laboratories in Europe and in areas of England have invested heavily in new digital technologies giving them a distinct technological advantage and thus removing the traditional logistical and geographical barriers to providing laboratory work for local dental practices including those in Wales.

The Brexit Resilience Fund has allowed Precision to establish a new Digital Centre and invest in new digital technologies to stay competitive. It has not only enabled us to protect our existing customer base, but will also open up markets further afield in the rest of the UK, Ireland, Europe and beyond. It will also ensure that work subcontracted out to laboratories outside of Wales will remain with us, allowing us to improve the profitably on a number of products.

Within the Digital Centre, the purchase of capital equipment items (milling machines and 3D printers), bespoke dental software and associated training has improved our productivity, delivered efficiencies in manufacturing processes and ultimately allows us to provide better value products within shorter timescales.

Business Wales support

Richard has benefitted from the support of a Business Wales Relationship Manager, Brian Roberts, who assisted with the expansion of Precision and the establishment of the new Digital Centre in St Mellons, Cardiff. Having identified a number of challenges due to the UK leaving the EU, as well as opportunities for the business to safeguard and even improve its position on the market, Brian worked with Richard to create a financial package and raise investment for working capital, new equipment and recruitment.

Brian assisted with the funding application process and was able to help Richard secure a total investment of £176,995 via the Welsh Government’s Brexit Resilience Fund, the Development Bank of Wales and Funding Circle.

Outcomes

  • relationship management support with expansion and investment
  • 6 jobs created since 2017
  • 16 jobs safeguarded thanks to provision of new advanced equipment
  • total investment of £176,995 secured via multiple funders to facilitate growth and tackle challenges posed by Brexit

Brian’s support was instrumental in seeing our plans come to fruition within such a short space of time. Brian continued to support us as we fought to fit out the new Digital Centre during the initial lockdown at the start of the pandemic and this has been invaluable to us.

Future plans

Primarily this investment has allowed us to improve our productivity, connectivity and quality, whilst driving down costs, but our strategy also involves a continuous improvement plan to further build on these achievements. Despite Brexit and Covid-19, we have growth plans to develop new products and services that will allow us to open up new markets to ensure Precision is a business for the future.

If you want to read more success stories of how Business Wales has helped other people like you to start or grow their businesses, visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/case-studies or follow @_businesswales / @_busnescymru on Twitter.

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