Dental technician Simon Caxton shares his unconventional path into dental technology, describing his hands-on learning style, passion for the craft, and drive to excel.

Our conversation takes a deep dive into the current landscape of dental labs in the UK. We explore the challenges in finding skilled technicians, the transformative impact of digital technologies, and the value of collaboration and communication between dentists and technicians.



In This Episode

00:02:40 – Backstory

00:16:10 – Establishing a lab

00:24:30 – Challenges

00:42:15 – Dentist-technician relationships

00:49:15 – Anatomy and workflow

00:52:25 – Skills and training

00:56:40 – Blackbox thinking

01:03:40 – Business exit

01:08:20 – Aspirations 

01:12:40 – Techniques and workflow

01:17:25 – Fantasy dinner party 

01:21:25 – Last days and legacy     


About Simon Caxton

Simon Caxton is a dental technician and director of the Romford-based Simplee Dental Ceramics laboratory.  

Simon Caxton: If I was to build up two centrals together, I always start with the left [00:00:05] one. So there’s patients, right? My left, because the model is upside down. And so I always start [00:00:10] with that one. And then two centrals although they’re similar they’re not identical. And [00:00:15] that’s the hardest thing when people say I want the Centrals to look exactly the same. Well, [00:00:20] in nature they’re not exactly the same. So that’s the hardest thing, is when people say they’ve got to [00:00:25] be identical and the gingival contour is different, you might have one gingival [00:00:30] margin higher than the other. And I think when dentists do composites [00:00:35] they’re building the composite onto unprepped which is yeah, [00:00:40] the majority of the ones I see where they’ve been added to. And that’s really [00:00:45] hard because you’re working with a structure underneath that’s already going [00:00:50] in one direction, or it’s going to be thinner or more bulky in areas. What [00:00:55] we have we generally or we like to have is something that’s been tracked down and [00:01:00] we’ve got a reasonable amount of room and space and we’re recreating that whole [00:01:05] thing. Then we’ve got more scope to to build those line angles in and [00:01:10] the bow bosses and make it look more natural. But as far as shapes go, [00:01:15] it’s get one looking right and then get the other ones to kind of match it.

Intro Voice: This [00:01:20] is Dental Leaders, [00:01:25] the podcast where you get to go one on one [00:01:30] with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your [00:01:35] hosts Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

Payman Langroudi: Dental [00:01:40] technicians are some of the unsung heroes of our profession. [00:01:45] And you know, personally, I remember my first ever job. [00:01:50] I thought I was a brilliant dentist and it turned out actually my technician [00:01:55] was brilliant. I realised I realised 2 or 3 technicians later that that guy John Oliver [00:02:00] in Kent, what a hero. Everything would fit first time, everything would look [00:02:05] beautiful and your technician can make you look amazing and not get [00:02:10] much of the praise for that or make you look terrible. And often we do blame them [00:02:15] instead of blaming ourselves. So I want to have a conversation with some technicians, [00:02:20] and we’re going to start off with Simon Caxton. Massive pleasure to [00:02:25] have you, Simon. Thank you. Simon is the, what do you call it, principal. Uh, is that how [00:02:30] they call it? Manager?

Simon Caxton: Yeah. Well, um, our lead ceramist, the lead technician [00:02:35] may be lead technician.

Payman Langroudi: Lead technician at Simply Dental Ceramics with his partner, [00:02:40] Lee wood. Um, a business that’s been going for 20 years. 20 odd [00:02:45] years or no, sorry.

Simon Caxton: 15 years this year? Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: 15 years. I’m so sorry. Recently, [00:02:50] Simon also, um, sold his lab to a much bigger group, a group called [00:02:55] chorus, who run 80 plus labs all over Europe. So it’s going to be a massive [00:03:00] pleasure to get into all of that. But let’s start, Simon, with welcoming you onto the pod [00:03:05] and get into your backstory. So you know what kind of a kid were you? Where did you [00:03:10] grow up? You know, who were your parents? Why? Dental how did it happen? Well, it sounds.

Simon Caxton: Like [00:03:15] a beginning of a biography. So I grew up in, um, Essex. I’m from Romford [00:03:20] originally, and, uh, yeah, just council estate I grew up on [00:03:25] went to a standard comprehensive school. No real aspirations to do [00:03:30] anything, especially Dental. That was probably the last thing on my mind. Um, [00:03:35] I really wanted to be a policeman, so I’m far from that. That was always my [00:03:40] my main goal, even to the point when I finished my apprenticeship, I still applied [00:03:45] for the Metropolitan Police, but they turned me down. So maybe they they saw something in me [00:03:50] that I didn’t. But, um, yeah, my parents, both my mum worked [00:03:55] two jobs to sort of keep us going. My dad had a good job in the Inland [00:04:00] Revenue. So careful what you say, Payman. Um, but [00:04:05] he’s retired from that now. Um, yeah. I love my sport. [00:04:10] I still quite a sporty person. And that was kind of my downfall, really. [00:04:15] At college, I played too much sport, didn’t do enough work, and [00:04:20] then fell in to dentistry from there. Uh, how do how [00:04:25] so I was halfway through my A levels, did my mocks, got very bad results, [00:04:30] was told I’ve got a really buck my ideas up.

Simon Caxton: And even if. But [00:04:35] back to my ideas. I’d still struggle to get a good grade, so I thought [00:04:40] maybe now is the time to start looking for a job. And I just looked through the local [00:04:45] paper and I found this, uh, advert for an apprentice dental technician. Didn’t [00:04:50] really know what it was, but it was the opportunity to still go to college. [00:04:55] So it was a day release course and earn a bit of money, I thought. So I thought, [00:05:00] well, best of both worlds. I can still go to carry on my education and and [00:05:05] earn a bit of money to to go out and support my sporting lifestyle. When I got to [00:05:10] the interview, uh, actually before I got to the interview, my mum’s friend was [00:05:15] a careers adviser and she said, oh, you can start off being a dental technician. [00:05:20] Then you can work your way up and become a hygienist and a and a dentist that way. [00:05:25] But I actually thought I was going for the interview as a dental nurse. [00:05:30] I thought I’d be in. I actually thought I’d be in practice. I had no idea what this this job entailed. [00:05:35] So I went along to the interview. A bit blind really, but [00:05:40] got there.

Simon Caxton: The guy sold it to me. Really. He told me and [00:05:45] showed me all the different things that we’d be doing. I thought, oh, this, this sounds really interesting. [00:05:50] Um, all right, I’ll give it a go. And 30 years later, [00:05:55] I’m still giving it a go. So. So I must I must have done something [00:06:00] right. But it is a really, really interesting job. And I [00:06:05] think with me as well, when I get into something, I get into something [00:06:10] regardless, regardless of what it is, I want to know all the ins and outs and I want to be [00:06:15] do it to the best of my ability. I know it sounds a bit cliched when you hear things like Muhammad [00:06:20] Ali, if I if I was going to be a binman, I’d be the best binman there is. Yeah, [00:06:25] I’m a bit like that with everything I do, I don’t. I’ve done lots of different things [00:06:30] like hobbies and whatever, and and I always go into them very deeply. And I think [00:06:35] this is the same with, with this job as well. I just wanted to know how everything [00:06:40] works and how how to do it. So yeah, [00:06:45] it was what would.

Payman Langroudi: You say straight away you felt that way when you like, you took to it fast. [00:06:50]

Simon Caxton: Yeah, I, I say I’m a pretty quick learner, but [00:06:55] I struggle to retain information. That was part of the reason why I didn’t [00:07:00] do so great at college, at doing A-levels I can [00:07:05] take information in, but not actually necessarily put [00:07:10] it out at the right time. So exams. I’m terrible exams, but I can [00:07:15] remember little details of things that probably are relevant. Um, [00:07:20] but if someone asks me where something is in the lab, I could tell them what shelf [00:07:25] it’s on, how many boxes in it is. But you ask me the square root of something, or [00:07:30] what chemical formula of something is? I couldn’t tell you, but yeah, [00:07:35] I just kind of picked it up. I’m not a naturally artistic person [00:07:40] in respect of creating sort of drawings and paintings [00:07:45] and sculptures and things like that, but I think the science and the art together, [00:07:50] I think you can learn how to do certain processes, and that’s how I kind of picked [00:07:55] it up. And then I just got a feel for it, I suppose. And [00:08:00] the science part as well, but how things work. I always thought as a kid [00:08:05] I was always like to push the boundaries and stuff. So if someone says to me, you can’t [00:08:10] do that because it’s going to break, I’d have to check for myself. It’s going to break. And [00:08:15] then no, you’re right. Or then if it didn’t, it would be like, oh, so I can do that. [00:08:20] So there’s a lot of that kind of involved, especially with Dental technology. We do push the boundaries [00:08:25] on stuff, and when we get asked to make all kinds of different things and we have to work on [00:08:30] all types of. Preps and impressions and we have to make [00:08:35] things work. So yeah. Yeah, that I do think [00:08:40] that. Yeah, I did take to it fairly well.

Payman Langroudi: I mean we’ve we’ve got a Dental [00:08:45] lab now at enlighten and we make one item right. Bleaching tray. [00:08:50] Bleaching tray. Yeah. Which, which I know all technicians for technicians are bleaching trays are nothing. [00:08:55] Yeah. It’s, it’s the lowest of the low. And it’s actually it’s quite a problematic [00:09:00] thing, right. To persuade people to sit and make bleaching trays all day. Um, okay. We may come in a particular [00:09:05] way or whatever, but what one thing that’s I’ve realised by, by now, having [00:09:10] a lab is the sort of the people difficulties [00:09:15] of it, insomuch as, you know, it’s almost like one guy gets really good at this thing. [00:09:20] If this guy leaves, it really is a nightmare. So do you [00:09:25] have to tell me about that a little bit? Do you always have to have at least two people knowing how to do everything? [00:09:30] Yes. In case one of them leaves, I think. Is that how it works?

Simon Caxton: Well, I think the dental technician, [00:09:35] especially when I was training as as an apprentice, you kind of got pigeonholed [00:09:40] into doing certain areas, the type of work. Yeah. So yeah, I’ve only [00:09:45] ever done crown and bridge work. Um, never not really done any removals, [00:09:50] any prosthetics other than a college. I could probably fudge my way through it, but [00:09:55] I could never. I couldn’t do something that I would want to give someone to, to [00:10:00] wear. Um, and I think for me, [00:10:05] as I said, I always want to know how to do everything. So with Crown and Bridge, I wanted to [00:10:10] know how the models were made and how they were done. Right. The metal work, [00:10:15] which we don’t do too much of, now wax in and cast in, and then as it’s [00:10:20] moved through, I want it to be a ceramist. I knew that’s that’s what I wanted to do. And then. Start [00:10:25] with that. And then the CAD cam came in. I really wanted to know [00:10:30] that. And I think by knowing all aspects of maybe just Crown and Bridge, [00:10:35] I think that’s good. Because people, as I said, do get pigeonholed into [00:10:40] doing one thing. So if that one person leaves, you’ve got to then find that one person [00:10:45] who’s got that specific expertise in that that area. So yeah, I agree with what you say there. [00:10:50] It’s it is hard. Um, and it is still hard to find people that [00:10:55] have got a good all round knowledge of, of the, of the work we do. [00:11:00]

Payman Langroudi: But then you’ve got okay on one side, you’ve got that the actual technical work. [00:11:05] Um, and, and as you say, there’s a, there’s an artistry to it, but there is a definitely [00:11:10] a science side to it. Then you’ve got the sort of, you know, the type of technician who produces [00:11:15] beautiful looking stuff, but it doesn’t fit in the same way. [00:11:20] And you’ve got the other type of technician where it fits. Everything fits like a glove, but the aesthetics aren’t [00:11:25] quite there. And that’s just the technician piece. Yeah, let alone the business piece. The running, [00:11:30] running a business where there’s lots of technicians. And then what I’ve [00:11:35] noticed is that we just make bleaching trays and we’re already on our fourth printer. [00:11:40] Yeah, yeah. Because because you realise you need something else or something’s cheaper or something’s [00:11:45] more expensive or and your, your CapEx in a lab, like I [00:11:50] dread to think what it must be like, how much you must have to spend on machines and things. [00:11:55] When I’m just making bleaching trays, I’m spending hundreds of thousands on stuff.

Simon Caxton: Sometimes [00:12:00] we’ve probably got the same machines that do the same thing, but we’re using them differently.

Payman Langroudi: So yeah, [00:12:05] yeah, I mean, we’ve got.

Simon Caxton: Three printers now. Uh, we’ve got [00:12:10] our own in-house milling unit, but then you’ve got all the bits and pieces, as you know, that. Go [00:12:15] with that. So you’ve got the cleaning side of the printing and the post-processing. [00:12:20] Yeah. And all the, the areas to trim up as well. [00:12:25] And. We was having this conversation merely the other day [00:12:30] that we’ll do an implant for someone and they won’t have the right [00:12:35] driver to do that implant in the surgery. They’ve sent us the implant in the first place, [00:12:40] and it’s like I’m the driver to do that. And so we’ve got a driver for every system going. [00:12:45] You might have to buy a driver for a really obscure system that you’ve never heard [00:12:50] of before, for one case, for one case. And they’ve got it sitting in the drawer somewhere. But you’ve [00:12:55] got all these different drivers, we’ve got all the articulators known to man, so [00:13:00] you have to cover every eventuality. And someone said to us, we were [00:13:05] a bit like MacGyver of the dental world yesterday, and that that’s [00:13:10] just the things you can buy without the things that we’ve fashioned up and made ourselves as well.

Payman Langroudi: And [00:13:15] then this thing that you said where you sort of hyperfocus on some [00:13:20] stuff like like sport, for instance, and like, you know, technology, [00:13:25] um, I’ve noticed technicians have that they’ve got like a, I don’t [00:13:30] know if you’d call it ADHD or whatever. Yeah, but but something like that where [00:13:35] they’re focussed completely in and they’re in that world. And sometimes [00:13:40] if you, if you interrupt them, it can really get to them. It’s. Is that a thing? Yeah. Just my technician. [00:13:45] Definitely. Yeah. Uh.

Simon Caxton: It can take me a long time [00:13:50] during the day to actually sit down at my bench and start work. I might [00:13:55] I might not start building a case until, like, after lunch. And I’ve got to finish [00:14:00] it that day and to build up a case from start to finish. Could take me. If it’s a [00:14:05] full arch, it could take me anything from a full arch, probably an hour and a half plus, [00:14:10] and you get interrupted in the middle of that, a phone call or a text and email or whatever, [00:14:15] and you just lose, lose your focus. It it’s really hard. [00:14:20] And as you say, running a business as well. I think I’m still learning how to do that. Even [00:14:25] after 15 years. And since the, uh, we’ve been, um, become a part of the group. [00:14:30] Like you just said to me, CapEx there, I never even knew that what that was until last week. And all these abbreviations, [00:14:35] I’m getting these spreadsheets to fill out. And it’s [00:14:40] like, what? What does this mean? And it was before it was like, do we need is [00:14:45] it broken? Yeah. Can we fix it? No, we need to buy it and let’s get another one that.

Payman Langroudi: It’s quite it’s [00:14:50] quite similar to being a dentist, right. As a dentist you’re trained to do some dentistry, but you’ve got no idea [00:14:55] on running a business. Yeah. And, and and a lot of us fudge our way through, [00:15:00] don’t we. And make loads of mistakes and and and sort of. You [00:15:05] must now be in touch with loads of different labs. Does does is that true. [00:15:10] Is is each lab very different because of this fact that people are just making it up or [00:15:15] is there has there been like a professionalisation?

Simon Caxton: I always used to think that people didn’t have the same problems [00:15:20] that we had, and every lab was different and we were doing something wrong, and then you [00:15:25] speak to them and they have exactly the same problems, the same problems with staff, the same problem [00:15:30] with work coming in and impressions and preps, things going missing [00:15:35] in the post. The same the couriers they use, everybody has the same. I think it’s the same if [00:15:40] if that’s the standardisation, that’s it. We all have the same problems. Um, I [00:15:45] think with digital coming in now, that has started to standardise things [00:15:50] a little more with designs and people designing [00:15:55] work as well. Although there’s I’ve had a few people say to me, [00:16:00] oh, you can just get someone in who’s good on a computer and they can design, but yes, [00:16:05] they can. But going back to what you said earlier, you get people that make these beautiful looking [00:16:10] restorations, but they’re not functioning properly. They can they can fill a space [00:16:15] with a software design. But they don’t look [00:16:20] at the path of its excursion and the bite. So [00:16:25] you may get a lovely looking ground. You come to fit it. It could be as high as you like, really tight [00:16:30] contacts. So I think we try and the technicians we have here [00:16:35] that we bring on to CAD cam, we try and get them to do still diagnostic waxing by hand, [00:16:40] finishing the work themselves. So once they’ve designed it, they’ve got to finish it as well so [00:16:45] they can see the problems. Because if they’re getting problems at the next stage, [00:16:50] then the dentist is going to get problems coming to fix it. So they’ve [00:16:55] got they’ve got to learn that way. So CAD has standardise it a [00:17:00] little, but it’s all.

Payman Langroudi: Your work done with CAD now.

Simon Caxton: Um, I think [00:17:05] 80% of our income in work is CAD. So [00:17:10] intraoral scanners, most of it is designed by CAD. Now, I still do [00:17:15] quite a bit of, uh, feldspathic work like refractory veneers and things. They’ve, [00:17:20] they’ve come fashionable again I think.

Payman Langroudi: Is that like contact lens veneer. Yeah.

Simon Caxton: Yeah. So [00:17:25] yeah. So a lot of those still use the old techniques like duplicating [00:17:30] models and foil veneers, things like that. But yeah, all [00:17:35] of our posterior work is pretty much done CAD. Now we don’t really build anything up. And [00:17:40] in that respect. So.

Payman Langroudi: So tell me your training [00:17:45] when you say college to become a technician. How long is that?

Simon Caxton: So when I did it, [00:17:50] it was for a day. So a four year day release, one [00:17:55] day a week. And we it was broken up in each year. So first [00:18:00] year was sort of your basics and fundamental kind of stuff. So it was like basic blocks and [00:18:05] special trays, anatomy, things like that. Second year was removable. [00:18:10] Third year was also again never done any ortho since then. And the last stage [00:18:15] was crown and bridge, which was great for me. But I was like, I had to wait four [00:18:20] years to get to the bit that I really knew how to do, but now there [00:18:25] are. I think they do degree courses that are about 2 or 3 years. [00:18:30] I’m not sure. There are still day release courses. One of our, [00:18:35] um, trainees here is on a day release course. She’s an accidental nurse [00:18:40] who decided she’d had enough of nursing and was a bit arty and decided to come into this, which [00:18:45] is good. She’s doing really well. But yeah, the college is. Now that there’s not [00:18:50] enough of them, there’s not enough people coming into the trade that that that is.

Payman Langroudi: A and when you [00:18:55] when you get when you get a new person in the lab, how long does it take you to work out if that guy [00:19:00] is, you know, knows his stuff or is good? If it can tell pretty [00:19:05] quickly. Yeah.

Simon Caxton: If it’s a trainee, you can normally tell within sort of 3 to [00:19:10] 6 months. I’d say that. And they normally start off pretty good. [00:19:15] They’re quite keen. We used to do like a three month probation period, but we extended that [00:19:20] to six for trainees because say they start off very keen and want to know [00:19:25] everything and then they settle in and then it’s more down to their attitude to [00:19:30] work I suppose with any same with any job. But you can also then start to tell the more [00:19:35] you give them to do their manual dexterity, whether they can do [00:19:40] that, they might have the the right attitude, but they might not be actually necessarily be able to [00:19:45] to work with it.

Payman Langroudi: And so you have to make an assessment of can I teach this person. [00:19:50] Yeah. Or are there some things that can’t be taught?

Simon Caxton: I think there’s some things.

Payman Langroudi: That can’t be level of [00:19:55] artistry. Yeah. Like a your eyes basically. Yeah.

Simon Caxton: And the art [00:20:00] history sort of level of it comes into it. I mean they may have a really good knowledge of [00:20:05] how things work and how to do things, but if you can’t build [00:20:10] up a crowd or finish a crown, then, I mean, that’s our finished product at the end of the [00:20:15] day. That’s why people keep coming back. And yeah, yeah, you can [00:20:20] you can tell pretty quickly from that.

Payman Langroudi: So tell me you did your you did your college. What [00:20:25] did you do next? Did you go get a job at a lab.

Simon Caxton: So no. So the the apprenticeship [00:20:30] was four days in a lab. So the, the lab that I went to for an interview was, [00:20:35] um, all NHS work. This was sort of mid, mid 90s 93 [00:20:40] I started. So it was all NHS work, um, and [00:20:45] quite a high volume of NHS work as well. We were doing [00:20:50] between 100 and £120 a day, um, between [00:20:55] four people, and I was one of them as a trainee. So it was a real.

Payman Langroudi: The [00:21:00] old way as well. Yeah.

Simon Caxton: Everything that precious metal, um, which [00:21:05] you wouldn’t do now, um, just for the sheer cost of it. Um. [00:21:10] Yeah. So I did four days a week in the lab, one day at college, and then [00:21:15] when I qualified, I decided, well, when I qualified is when I [00:21:20] then applied for the Metropolitan Police because, um, I thought it would be a given [00:21:25] because in those days, uh, one of the stipulation was you had to be over six foot two and [00:21:30] I’m six foot five, so I thought, I’m definitely going to get in here, but no. So [00:21:35] I then because I got the knock back from the police and that was what [00:21:40] I really wanted to do then actually was wasn’t really what I wanted to do. But [00:21:45] I finished the apprenticeship, I went travelling to Australia for a few months and then came [00:21:50] back. And then because I didn’t really know how to do anything else, I [00:21:55] kind of got a job. In a lab again. And I got a job [00:22:00] as a freelance technician, and I worked in three labs. Um, six days a [00:22:05] week because that was what was available. And I did that for probably [00:22:10] about 18 months. And then one of the labs there was a really good lab [00:22:15] and all private work. It was only like a one man sort of lab. [00:22:20] And that’s where I really wanted to work, because I knew I could learn a lot there, [00:22:25] and I did. So I managed to get five days a week there and stayed [00:22:30] there for 11 years.

Payman Langroudi: Wow. Which lab was that?

Simon Caxton: That was, [00:22:35] uh, amdec. Ropsten. Oh, really? Yeah. So we have met before. [00:22:40] Payman. I don’t know if you remember me on on the, um. No action courses. [00:22:45]

Payman Langroudi: Oh, on the course.

Simon Caxton: Yeah, yeah. So, um.

Payman Langroudi: It was at that point [00:22:50] you were with Rob? Yeah.

Simon Caxton: So I used to do the lab work for the courses.

Payman Langroudi: I [00:22:55] see, I see, I see. So. So then tell me about the time you decided [00:23:00] I’m going to go out on my own. Well.

Simon Caxton: When I started as an apprentice, I always thought, [00:23:05] like, oh, maybe I could do this on my own. Like, I could see what? And it was [00:23:10] always an ambition of mine to do it. Yeah. I never really wanted to leave where I was, [00:23:15] but I didn’t see any way around doing [00:23:20] doing it any other way, really. I, I wanted the recognition for the work I was [00:23:25] doing. I think that’s what a lot of technicians don’t get. They don’t get [00:23:30] the recognition for the work they do. As you said at the beginning, the unsung heroes really, I think [00:23:35] without wanting to blow my own trumpet, it’s well, if we probably do get a blame for [00:23:40] a lot of stuff that don’t turn up on time, and I think that doesn’t fit. But [00:23:45] when it does go right and I see it a lot now on social media, these dentists [00:23:50] putting cases up, the technician very, very rarely gets a mention. [00:23:55] And it is a team effort when we’re half of that. So [00:24:00] a team that’s put that together. So yeah, I wanted to [00:24:05] get recognition for what I did and I wanted to do things my way. [00:24:10] I think when you work for somebody else, you can you sort of toe the line, really. [00:24:15] You have to kind of do things the way they want to do it. And I wanted to do things [00:24:20] my way, and I wanted to do a lot more courses. I wanted to learn a lot more. I’d [00:24:25] say I get really involved. I really, I really want to know stuff [00:24:30] like, I love doing a course. People that know me like I’ve I’ve [00:24:35] been on loads, I’ve seen some of the best technicians in the world and I’ve spent a lot [00:24:40] of money on courses. So I was trying to totally up the other day, and I reckon I’ve spent over £35,000 on [00:24:45] courses just in the last 15 years. Wow.

Payman Langroudi: So was Lee your partner [00:24:50] from the beginning? Yes.

Simon Caxton: So I knew Lee from college. So, um, we [00:24:55] started college at the same time, and, uh, we both live quite close [00:25:00] to each other, so we always stayed in touch. And then he came to work with us at Amdec [00:25:05] as well. It’s a bit controversial because we both left at the same time to, to [00:25:10] set up. Yeah, they go down too. Well, I bet.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah, I bet. [00:25:15]

Simon Caxton: So, um.

Payman Langroudi: But tell me about the thought processes. Like, you know, I guess [00:25:20] you decided you were going to do this and and did you take to business ownership? Well, [00:25:25] were you worried about it? What did you do? Did you have to save money and [00:25:30] and get a loan and. Just talk me through the process of actually making that [00:25:35] leap because it’s it’s a massive leap, right? Just like an associate going to become a principal. [00:25:40] Such a big thing to do. Yeah.

Simon Caxton: So like, I mean, I’ve [00:25:45] got a well paid job and and you want to make this [00:25:50] leap, as you say. And and it is I had a young family. I had two children under [00:25:55] two. So yeah, it was and it was a point where for [00:26:00] me, it was now or never. But one of the. How old were you? I was 37. [00:26:05] Yeah. 3637 something of that. And [00:26:10] I kept saying to Lee, do you want to start a lab? Do you want to start a lab? And he’s like, no, [00:26:15] no. And then one day I said to him, like, just tongue in cheek, you want to start [00:26:20] a lab? And he went, yeah, I do. And I was like, really? And he’s like, yeah, I want to do it. [00:26:25] So okay, so we looked into it and it was all done. We had [00:26:30] a little bit of savings, but it was all bank loans and credit cards. Yeah, just [00:26:35] maxed them out. We went unpaid for the first three months. Luckily, [00:26:40] we had a couple of people that, uh, knew we were leaving. [00:26:45] And then.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah. How does that how does the goodwill piece work in labs? Is that is [00:26:50] similar? Is it similar to a practice like an associate when he leaves the practice really shouldn’t be taking [00:26:55] patients with him. Yeah.

Simon Caxton: There’s no goodwill sort of thing. There’s no goodwill.

Payman Langroudi: Is that not [00:27:00] a thing? Is that not a thing with labs at all? Yeah, well.

Simon Caxton: It is, but I is there.

Payman Langroudi: Not a contract [00:27:05] that says, hey, don’t take my customers?

Simon Caxton: Um, no, no no, no, [00:27:10] there’s nothing. There was nothing in my contract. Um, I couldn’t [00:27:15] work within I think it was 12 miles of of of the [00:27:20] lab. But there was I mean, I think as a. An etiquette [00:27:25] thing. You shouldn’t do it. I mean, we never actually, we did. And hand on heart, I didn’t [00:27:30] approach anybody. And I still maintain that to this day. It’s a fight, what [00:27:35] people say. But, um, it’s just when social media was kind of, [00:27:40] sort of kicking off, like. So it was still early days with Facebook and [00:27:45] there was no real Instagram, but I just put out my intentions, what I was [00:27:50] doing on Facebook, and people found out that way. And. [00:27:55] When they found when they knew we’d actually left, they got in contact [00:28:00] then. So would you would.

Payman Langroudi: You say you were profitable in the first year? Yeah.

Simon Caxton: Oh, [00:28:05] brilliant. So we started in August 2010 [00:28:10] and by January 2011 we needed more staff. [00:28:15] We had so much work with, well, two people anyway. [00:28:20] We didn’t know what to do. And then we were thinking, have we done the right thing here?

Payman Langroudi: So [00:28:25] because there’s those growing pains as well, right? You know, like you suddenly [00:28:30] you need more people. The culture changes. How many people were you when you sold it?

Simon Caxton: Uh, [00:28:35] I.

Payman Langroudi: Eight in total.

Simon Caxton: Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: Is that eight [00:28:40] technicians or is that eight humans?

Simon Caxton: So seven technicians and one admin. But [00:28:45] since we’ve, we’ve um, the takeover, we’ve [00:28:50] actually added another admin because we just can’t keep up with. [00:28:55] All that side of it, and I do. Is there a.

Payman Langroudi: Simon? Is there an element of a technician [00:29:00] eventually getting to a point where he doesn’t do the work and everyone else is doing the work, or is that not [00:29:05] the kind of technician you want to be or what?

Simon Caxton: It’s not really the kind of technician I want to be because I [00:29:10] do enjoy doing what I do. I do like making making things [00:29:15] and stuff. Yeah. And getting getting my hands dirty. Still, I think I’d much rather do that [00:29:20] than have to run a business and. Yeah, and do all the [00:29:25] paperwork and sort out finances.

Payman Langroudi: But there is that other type of technician as well, isn’t there, [00:29:30] that you see it sometimes where it’s the senior guy, the one, the guy with the name on the door. Yeah. Isn’t [00:29:35] the one making. That’s kind of what you were saying. You weren’t getting the, the, the kudos [00:29:40] for the work you were doing was that the situation was that kind of the situation?

Simon Caxton: Yeah, that’s how I felt as well. But [00:29:45] I think it’s a bit like some the celebrity chefs now as well. But they have their [00:29:50] name on the door. But you go to their restaurant, they’re not cooking. Yeah, [00:29:55] yeah, yeah. But I think some people or some clients have got send work [00:30:00] because they want me to do the work. And I’m sure that’s the same with other labs as well. The other technicians [00:30:05] that have got a good reputation, they, they get the work because [00:30:10] people want them to do the work. Yeah. Yeah. So. Yeah, [00:30:15] I would rather be on the tools at the bench doing the work. [00:30:20]

Payman Langroudi: Let’s quickly let’s quickly while we’re on it. Let’s quickly sort of fast forward to the to the end of that [00:30:25] journey where you sold up. How did how did that come about? Were you looking [00:30:30] to sell? Did they come and find you? What was the process? Um, so.

Simon Caxton: No, it wasn’t looking to sell [00:30:35] at all? No. And we’d been approached by [00:30:40] another corporate to see if he was interested and we wasn’t. And then [00:30:45] Ashley Byrne, who had joined chorus last year. Uh, [00:30:50] he was the first.

Payman Langroudi: He wasn’t the first one.

Simon Caxton: Yeah. So we met him. Well. [00:30:55] Bumped into him in a bar at the Addy last year and we [00:31:00] were just chatting and then we asked him the question, so why have you joined? Chorus. [00:31:05] Like any sort of explain why and his thought process behind [00:31:10] it and why he’d done it, and he said, there, I’m glad I’ve bumped into [00:31:15] you actually, because we’d like you to join as well. Was that? Ah, okay. [00:31:20] And mainly had a conversation. Quite a few conversations [00:31:25] as to the pros and cons for it, and [00:31:30] we can only really see pros for for us. And so [00:31:35] that’s why we decided to go down that route.

Payman Langroudi: How are how are labs valued? [00:31:40] Is it just like like practices. Is it like a multiple of your EBITDA EBITDA? [00:31:45]

Simon Caxton: Yeah, yeah. So um.

Payman Langroudi: But then is there to explain it to me. Like what what [00:31:50] kind of EBITDA is good EBITDA and what kind of EBITDA isn’t good? Like what what makes a [00:31:55] lab like increase the multiple?

Simon Caxton: I don’t know, because it’s just another thing I’ve had to learn. [00:32:00] I’ve I didn’t even know what EBITDA was when until last year I had to [00:32:05] Google it and work it out. And I’m.

Payman Langroudi: Not. No. Okay. My question kind of my question is if it’s let’s [00:32:10] say the lab is turning over £2 million, if it’s 2 million NHS pounds, is that [00:32:15] as valuable as 2 million private pounds for the sake of the argument?

Simon Caxton: Uh, yeah, probably. I mean, because [00:32:20] the actual doesn’t make a difference. No, because the type of work you do from an NHS crowns were [00:32:25] private crown other than maybe materials, the work should be the same. [00:32:30] That’s why when we we set up the lab, we didn’t decide. We decided we just wanted to do [00:32:35] private work. But the actual type of restoration you’re making is [00:32:40] the same. You might be able to to skimp on a use a cheaper material here and there. [00:32:45] Um, but the processes you do is exactly the same. So I [00:32:50] don’t really see that there should be any difference in or there should only really be one price [00:32:55] for a crown, um, because you’re doing the same thing and [00:33:00] by calling it an NHS crown or whatever, or giving it to [00:33:05] like a junior technician to do. You’re devaluing it and they’re not getting the best work. [00:33:10] Really. That makes sense.

Payman Langroudi: It does. It does give us the lay of the land [00:33:15] right now. Yeah. For someone from an outsider kind of looking in and at the [00:33:20] dental technician, the dental technology sector in the UK, what’s the lay of the land? [00:33:25] It’s not. What, because there’s been loads of changes. I know there’s been loads [00:33:30] of outsourcing that um to abroad and then you’ve got [00:33:35] the changes in the NHS, private system itself. Just give us a, give us an outline [00:33:40] of the lay of the land, land. And where do you sit in that? I know you’re a very, very private and [00:33:45] award winning and so forth. Right.

Simon Caxton: So, um, it sounds [00:33:50] great from my point of view because there’s very there’s less technicians [00:33:55] now. Why? Well, I think Covid didn’t help. [00:34:00] So since Covid there were unregistered GDC registering 2020, [00:34:05] there were 7500 technicians in the UK. [00:34:10] There’s 5000 registered technicians now. And well, [00:34:15] there’s there’s not enough people coming into it to there’s more people leaving than there [00:34:20] is. Joining the education doesn’t help. I think [00:34:25] there’s only something like 6 or 7 colleges or universities that are doing Dental [00:34:30] technology now. The average age of technicians doesn’t help. I think [00:34:35] it’s going up. Yeah. What do you think the average age of a technician is in the UK today? [00:34:40]

Payman Langroudi: 30, 30.

Simon Caxton: 56.

Payman Langroudi: The [00:34:45] average.

Simon Caxton: I’ve actually got some stats on my phone. Oh my goodness, I am so. [00:34:50] Nearly 40%. Of technicians are over 55. [00:34:55] Wow and 22% are over 65. A [00:35:00] less than 16% are under 44.

Payman Langroudi: 22% are [00:35:05] over 65.

Simon Caxton: That’s crazy, isn’t it? So in a few years time. [00:35:10] It’s if they’re lucky.

Payman Langroudi: Enough that 22% gone.

Simon Caxton: Yeah. So yeah. [00:35:15] And there’s not 22% new technicians coming in. So. [00:35:20] Yeah. In that respect, that doesn’t look too, too good. Um. [00:35:25]

Payman Langroudi: But when you say Covid had a lot to do with it, what does a lot of labs go under [00:35:30] during Covid?

Simon Caxton: Some. Some went under, especially NHS sort of level labs. And [00:35:35] then a lot of techniques, especially, uh, foreign technicians, [00:35:40] went home during Covid and then never came back.

Payman Langroudi: And then Brexit. [00:35:45]

Simon Caxton: Brexit had a big part, part of it as well. And [00:35:50] technicians that were coming over with qualifications, the GDC wouldn’t recognise [00:35:55] them. So they some of them are working in the UK but they’re not [00:36:00] GDC registered. We’ve got one ourself who is a very talented technician [00:36:05] from Hungary. She’s tried to register with the GDC, but [00:36:10] she’s got to jump through all these hoops with all the paperwork and everything. She just gave up in the end and [00:36:15] she’s more than capable of doing the work. But I think during Covid as [00:36:20] well, there was technicians, especially in the sort of lower end of the the scale, like the NHS [00:36:25] labs, they could earn more driving for Tesco’s or [00:36:30] doing other jobs which were less stressful than being a dental technician [00:36:35] and. Not not the money. I mean, we always [00:36:40] try and. Pay a little bit over the odds for technicians. Keep [00:36:45] your people happy. Yeah. Yeah. Um. Just because it’s hot. If you find [00:36:50] a good technician, you’ve got to retain. It’s like any job, I think. Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: Lock and key.

Simon Caxton: Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: I [00:36:55] agree, so. But go on. The lay of the land insomuch as. [00:37:00] Tell me the general makeup of a of an NHS lab. Is it a much bigger organisation [00:37:05] or smaller? Not necessarily. There’s not because you guys are eight, [00:37:10] eight. Kind of. You’re a boutique lab, right?

Simon Caxton: Yeah, I’d say so, yeah.

Payman Langroudi: So what are the big labs doing? [00:37:15] What’s the story with them?

Simon Caxton: But the bigger labs tend to do more full service [00:37:20] laboratories, so they’ll do prosthetics. And although they’ll do a lot more [00:37:25] disciplines, whereas the smaller labs tend to stick to your lovely prosthetic labs and your average [00:37:30] labs.

Payman Langroudi: Do you have any idea? Do you have any idea of what percentage is being outsourced [00:37:35] to China or wherever?

Simon Caxton: Not outsourced? No. Uh, China. So that [00:37:40] kind of all got, um, sort of a few years back. That was [00:37:45] the, uh, thing. The thing. Yeah. But then I think again, with Brexit [00:37:50] and, and whatever the import sort of side of it, that slowed everything down. [00:37:55] And I don’t know, I’m aware of the outsourcing part isn’t as much [00:38:00] of a threat to Dental labs now as it was as it was. I think the biggest threat is lack [00:38:05] of technicians and and most people and most lab owners. You say [00:38:10] you speak to them, they can’t find good technicians.

Payman Langroudi: So, [00:38:15] Simon, look, if you rewind 20 years, do [00:38:20] you think technicians were more valued then than they are now?

Simon Caxton: No, I think they’re more valued now, [00:38:25] I think, because.

Payman Langroudi: Then how can it be that they’re not getting paid enough to want to become technicians? [00:38:30] I think what’s going on? What’s the story there?

Simon Caxton: I don’t know. It’s not unless [00:38:35] you know about Dental technology or. Yeah, you’re not going to come into it. I [00:38:40] fell into it. Uh, Lee fell into it. He he leads [00:38:45] a qualified stonemason. So. And it was only because he couldn’t find a job as a stonemason. [00:38:50] His friend, who was doing a part time job at a lab, said, oh, we need someone part time [00:38:55] just to make some models. And he’s like, oh, I can make models. I’m a stonemason. And [00:39:00] then he’s been doing it ever since. There’s [00:39:05] not many people that go looking for Dental technology. I say they either fall into [00:39:10] it that they even know someone who’s already in dentistry, or [00:39:15] it happens by mistake. But I think we’re more valued now, especially by dentists. [00:39:20] I mean, because there isn’t many of us about and especially like I mean, [00:39:25] I’ve been doing it 30 years, people with our knowledge and our experience. We [00:39:30] get a lot of, um, young dentists that get in contact with [00:39:35] us and want to know. And we’ve had, um, know about the lab side [00:39:40] of it. We’ve had dentists come to the lab, spend a couple of days here [00:39:45] just to see what we do, and they haven’t got a clue. Some of them, especially ones straight [00:39:50] out of, uh, university, because I don’t think if I’m right, [00:39:55] I don’t think they teach the lab side so much now as they used to. So [00:40:00] yeah, they don’t really know. What goes on in a lab. [00:40:05]

Payman Langroudi: And I found I found one of the best ways to know, like, who’s [00:40:10] a great dentist is to go and ask technicians.

Simon Caxton: 100%. I always say, if people ask [00:40:15] me, do you see?

Payman Langroudi: You see the actual work, don’t you? I mean, I know a thousand dentists here, but I don’t know [00:40:20] what the actual work is like. Yeah, I see the end result. Right. But that’s, that’s that’s [00:40:25] not a true picture of what’s going on sometimes, you know, picture before and after doesn’t show me [00:40:30] anything, does it. As far as what happened. No. But you see it all.

Simon Caxton: Yeah. But those before [00:40:35] and afters they. They tell a story of this is what we started [00:40:40] with. This is what we finished. Yeah. They don’t tell you the bit in the middle. So we [00:40:45] might do a great case of a dentist that puts it on Instagram and say, oh, look at this. [00:40:50] This is the and it’s like, wow, that looks brilliant. But they don’t see all the stages [00:40:55] that have gone to get there. And the plan in. The [00:41:00] fight is of things that have gone wrong on that case, that we’ve been redone. [00:41:05] And, um, so you might get a dentist call you and say, oh, I’ve seen your [00:41:10] work. It looks great. I want it to look like this case. And then they’ll send you something and say, well, [00:41:15] I can’t do that with this. This. You’re not going to get the same thing. And then you’ve got to try and sort of talk [00:41:20] them through it. And plan it. And and I don’t always [00:41:25] want to do that. There are lots of people and there’s probably lots of technicians as well that cut corners and. [00:41:30] Just it’s the planning side. And that’s where. [00:41:35]

Payman Langroudi: I find, you know, I mean, okay, I wasn’t I wasn’t a pretty I wasn’t [00:41:40] a very accomplished dentist. You know, I gave up quite quickly. [00:41:45] Um, dentistry. And I think it takes a good, good, good ten years to become a good dentist. [00:41:50] I feel like, you know, once you’ve been through all the different sort of situations that can come up. [00:41:55] I never did ten years, but but one thing that I sort of figured out [00:42:00] early on was how much you can learn from your technician. I [00:42:05] mean, some of the best things that I learned were from my technician, you know, and [00:42:10] getting the technician involved early on in the process before you cut. Yeah. So [00:42:15] that so that together you can say, right. You know, you can I can use some porcelain that’s slightly more [00:42:20] opaque or the 100 different variables of things you could try. [00:42:25] Um, people don’t realise. And by the way, I think the same thing about salespeople, [00:42:30] you know, a lot, a lot of dentists see salespeople as a pain in the neck. You know, I don’t want to see that guy busy. [00:42:35] I want to drill teeth or whatever. But salespeople have got, you know, market knowledge [00:42:40] and it’s gold. Yeah. Do you have that? I mean, what would be your best case scenario is that is that it [00:42:45] to see the patient before or see pictures before the guy even goes ahead? Yeah. Do you have that relationship [00:42:50] with some dentists. Yeah.

Simon Caxton: And and new clients as well that ring up and ask me [00:42:55] to do a case before I’ve even decided on what we’re going to do and how we’re [00:43:00] going to do it. I need to to see the beginning so that that planning part is key. [00:43:05] Uh, they might say to me, I want to do this case and I will use all feldspathic [00:43:10] veneers. Is that why do you want to use Feldspathic? I think that will be the best case [00:43:15] or that would be best. You know that now. I don’t think it will. So I want to do a [00:43:20] all ceramic crown on a post and core or an implant and say, well, a [00:43:25] good old fashioned PFM might be best there because we’re going to mask everything out. It’s not [00:43:30] always like that product might not be the best answer [00:43:35] for that case. It’s not the best solution. And we’ve got a I like to have more, [00:43:40] uh, like the control over that. If people insist on something, I’ll do it for [00:43:45] them. I will point out that the the the shortfall in zone out and where it could [00:43:50] go wrong. And normally when you say if it goes wrong, you’ll be paying again, then they [00:43:55] start listening to you. I said.

Payman Langroudi: Look, I mean, it’s funny because [00:44:00] you got the one side of it, which is what you just described there. I mean, we get it all the time. We get terrible impressions sometimes [00:44:05] for for bleaching trays. Yeah. And we call them up and say, look, we need another impression. [00:44:10] And often they say, just go ahead and do it right.

Simon Caxton: You’re just going to come out with the classic line of do [00:44:15] your best. Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah, do your best, do your best. That is [00:44:20] the and I don’t know, we’re internally we had a whole situation about this about because [00:44:25] at the end of the day if, if then the the bleaching doesn’t work as well. That that that [00:44:30] does reflect on our brand as well. Yeah. And at what point do we refuse the [00:44:35] impression and say you have to retake. We’re not we’re not making it. Yeah. Because it’s it’s [00:44:40] slightly different with us. Right. Insomuch as that, you know, the brand gets gets its own Google reviews [00:44:45] and things. Yeah. So we can’t have it not working. But people get very violently angry [00:44:50] sometimes if you tell them that I do.

Simon Caxton: Yeah. And yeah. And [00:44:55] I’m glad you you’ve seen it from that side because that we get that all [00:45:00] the time. And I think some people don’t want to lose face with the patient [00:45:05] because they’ve got to get them back and redoing it again because then it looks reflects badly on them. [00:45:10] Um, yeah. And I always say that just tell them lab can’t do what [00:45:15] you’ve asked us to do. Blame. Blame me if you have to, I don’t care. Yeah. Um, I [00:45:20] mean, I’m not at the coalface. I don’t see them. So very rarely do I get to see patients. [00:45:25] Um, yeah.

Payman Langroudi: And to be fair, to be fair, there is the other side of it. Yeah, that sometimes clinically, things [00:45:30] are so difficult. Oh, yeah. That is the best you can do. You know, like the patient won’t go back. He [00:45:35] won’t open his mouth or, or whatever it is. You know, there’s a particular reason why [00:45:40] it’s such a terrible situation. Yeah. Um, but but I think it comes down [00:45:45] to the collaboration, the communication between dentists and lab. Even though these [00:45:50] days, I’m sure, you know, with you and your customers, it’s all very like, you know, together [00:45:55] there isn’t best practice, hasn’t really been figured out or no one really taught us [00:46:00] here to be very collaborative with our technician. And and [00:46:05] I think it’s such an important thing is probably [00:46:10] the most important thing to be able to communicate quickly and effectively [00:46:15] with the technician. What percentage of cases do you end up actually coming in and doing [00:46:20] a shade or, you know, seeing the patient?

Simon Caxton: I couldn’t say percentages, but I probably [00:46:25] see on average about five patients a week to do shade matching. Yeah. Say [00:46:30] daddy and it is normally just anterior posterior [00:46:35] stuff that they do themselves, but it is normally the single central [00:46:40] or single lateral or smile cases. I might see someone that’s, um, been [00:46:45] in tents for a week or so and we do a review and sort of guide [00:46:50] them through a shade. And some people already have in their mind [00:46:55] they want white, they just want a white, white set of teeth and that’s it. And then others [00:47:00] want white, but they want him to look natural. And you have to kind of try and explain to them. Which [00:47:05] shades will work best for them. And I think when they come into [00:47:10] the lab as well, they. They’re amazed that what they say because it [00:47:15] half of them come in and say, oh, do you make them here? And it’s like, yeah, we make everything here. [00:47:20] And because where we do the show taking it at area, it’s like a glass partition [00:47:25] off to the rest of the lab so they can see out and see everybody [00:47:30] working away. And. All the machinery go in and and a [00:47:35] lot of them are genuinely interested in what’s going on and how [00:47:40] their teeth are being made, and that’s not really something they see. So. It. [00:47:45] I think it gives a bit of added value as well to the case [00:47:50] when the patient comes down. And definitely. So definitely. Yeah. So we [00:47:55] see a lot of people, um.

Payman Langroudi: Simon, tell me from the anatomy perspective because, [00:48:00] you know, it’s funny, since this sort of composite bonding thing is taken off, a lot, dentists [00:48:05] are having to learn the very basics of line angles and, [00:48:10] and just, just, just smile design. Right. Actually making making the teeth themselves. [00:48:15] Right. And for instance, we run a composite bonding course and Dipesh [00:48:20] who’s the teacher? His brother is a technician at Palmer. Right. Yeah. Yeah. [00:48:25] And and the, the amount of stuff that Dipesh has picked up from hit and, [00:48:30] and the kind of things that he says that. Oh yeah. My brother [00:48:35] would do it this way. It’s it’s almost like the teaching of anatomy [00:48:40] and shade is separate for dentists and for technicians. We’re taught separate [00:48:45] things, different things and, and and yet we both need to get to this final [00:48:50] result right of the tooth. Um, so it’s a bit of an unfair [00:48:55] question what I’m going to ask you next here, but it’s kind of like, what’s the crux? [00:49:00] What’s the crux of making two centrals look great?

Simon Caxton: Make them look great.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah. [00:49:05] Where do you start? Where do you. What do you really? I’m familiar at the medial line angles. Right. Obviously. [00:49:10] Yeah. They have to be the same.

Simon Caxton: So when I, if I was to build up two centrals together, I always [00:49:15] start with the left one. Start with just. [00:49:20] Oh, sorry. Oh, so it’s patience, right? My left. Because the model is upside down. [00:49:25] And so I always start with that one. And then. Two Centrals are, though. They’re similar. [00:49:30] They’re not identical. And that’s the hardest thing when people say, I want the Centrals to look [00:49:35] exactly the same. When nature did not exactly the same. So that’s [00:49:40] the hardest thing, is when people say they’ve got to be identical and the gingival [00:49:45] contour is different. You might have one, uh, gingival margin higher than the other. [00:49:50] And. I think when dentists do composites, they’re building [00:49:55] the composite onto Unprepped, which is something. Yeah. Yeah. The majority [00:50:00] of the ones I see where they’ve been added to, and that’s really hard because [00:50:05] you’re working with a structure underneath that’s already going in one direction, [00:50:10] or it’s going to be thinner or more bulky in areas. What we have [00:50:15] with generally, or we like to have is something that’s been tracked down and we’ve got a reasonable [00:50:20] amount of room and space, and we’re recreating that whole thing. Then [00:50:25] we’ve got more scope to to build those line angles in and the [00:50:30] bow bosses and make it look more natural. But as far as [00:50:35] shapes go, it’s get one looking right and then get the other one to kind of match it. And [00:50:40] get. Yeah, but.

Payman Langroudi: What are you what are you looking out for specifically? Like give [00:50:45] me, give me like some for you. It’s probably totally second nature now that you just do it. Yeah.

Simon Caxton: So. It’s [00:50:50] hard to say that each case is different. So [00:50:55] yeah, you look at I look at the laterals and work out whether they’re an oval [00:51:00] shape, a square shape, a more triangular shape. So you’ve got [00:51:05] there’s no point to putting an oval central next to the triangular lateral, because the [00:51:10] rest of the teeth have got that triangular shape. And you’ve got to get the the length right, the incisal [00:51:15] edge position right, you want it to be depending on the way the [00:51:20] patient wants it, if they want it to look natural, then they’re going to be slightly longer than the laterals, [00:51:25] about the same length as the canines. But the way some of the market’s [00:51:30] going now, everyone wants their straight the same length and it’s horrendous. It’s so [00:51:35] hard to do. It goes against what we’ve been told to do. Um yeah. So [00:51:40] getting that shape right, getting the proportions right. The [00:51:45] length width ratio. Yeah. And then I think that that’s what I [00:51:50] kind of like about canines.

Payman Langroudi: Canines are canines are challenging teeth isn’t it. To, to build. [00:51:55] What’s the key to that. Is it the two faces of it.

Simon Caxton: Uh, yeah. The kind of [00:52:00] three. So get the cervical. Uh bogosity. Right. And then I [00:52:05] look at the mesial and distal sort of line angles. And again, some are more [00:52:10] rounded than others. Some have a nice slight, sharp, uh, cusp to it. [00:52:15] Others are quite worn and flat. So I think if you’re matching a single tooth into [00:52:20] existing dentition, it’s just looking at what’s around in [00:52:25] the rest of the arch or, and looking at the, the wear patterns of the other teeth [00:52:30] as well, because you can use that to your advantage to if something’s guiding [00:52:35] across and you can see that it, it’s flat on the centre or the canine [00:52:40] or. Yeah, the canine or the lateral, you can build that wear into a central when [00:52:45] it’s the same each. Yeah. Each tooth is. Yeah, each mouth.

Payman Langroudi: You guys [00:52:50] have like a signature. Like like if you look at a case and you can tell that’s Lee’s work [00:52:55] because of just the, just the way he does things.

Simon Caxton: Um, Lee’s Lee doesn’t do ceramics, so [00:53:00] I’d be able to. I’d be able to spot these a mile off if he did. Um, [00:53:05] or someone else’s?

Payman Langroudi: Or could someone look at your work and say, that’s a Simon case?

Simon Caxton: Because [00:53:10] my shapes are very similar. You might get the triangular or the oval, but [00:53:15] I tend to do, especially if a smile case. They all look the same. I’ve got one shape that I like to do and [00:53:20] I really. Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: It’s funny. Is it because you get that with dentists as well? [00:53:25] You get you could, you could kind of tell the, the, the signature of that dentist [00:53:30] in his, in his composite sometimes.

Simon Caxton: Yeah. And you can tell as well like if they’re left and right handed, especially [00:53:35] if they’re prepping a whole arch because all the preps face one direction. [00:53:40] So yeah.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah, yeah. But let’s, [00:53:45] let’s talk about you’re kind of at the forefront of things. Right. You’re trying to, you know, be [00:53:50] very digital, very private, very aesthetic. Tell me about things that [00:53:55] being at the forefront has obviously its, its benefits. But sometimes a new [00:54:00] thing comes along and you’re pushing the boundaries and you try something [00:54:05] and it might not necessarily work out because it’s a new thing. Right? You [00:54:10] know, improvement is, by its nature, two steps forward, one step back, isn’t it? You sort of tell [00:54:15] me about times where that’s happened to you and where it’s bit you, you know, like where it’s, I don’t know, some, some [00:54:20] company came out with an amazing new idea. And then later on you found out they’re all breaking [00:54:25] or something like that. A story like that would help me.

Simon Caxton: Uh, so we had [00:54:30] a lot of problems with there was, there was a stage a few years back where there was a [00:54:35] material, uh, peak, uh, um, peak material. It’s like a [00:54:40] composite, like a resin. So people were using it to do full arch sort [00:54:45] of restorations and bonding composite to it, especially for like all fours. And we [00:54:50] did a couple ourself. But what happens is that the peak material was [00:54:55] quite flexible, even though it’s very, very strong, it’s quite flexible. But the composite [00:55:00] that was being bonded to it.

Payman Langroudi: Wasn’t a different.

Simon Caxton: Flex. Yeah. So [00:55:05] you were getting cracking. Um, and because you would bond like venture [00:55:10] teeth to it and they’d pop off. So we had a few things like that [00:55:15] that we, we, we did a couple of big cases that we had some failures with. [00:55:20]

Payman Langroudi: Was it a couple, was it like a couple of hundred?

Simon Caxton: No, because we didn’t really do lots [00:55:25] of those type of cases. Uh, but when they come out they look brilliant. And the thought behind [00:55:30] them is like, oh, you’re right. Yeah, we’re going to do that. We’re going to do it all this way now. And then they [00:55:35] started coming back and we was having problems with them. And it’s like, we’ve got to redo and like [00:55:40] redo our own costs as well because I. Um, is just [00:55:45] said earlier, like we like to do things how we want to do them, and we kind of gone down [00:55:50] that route and said, oh yeah, it’ll be fine. It wasn’t fine. Um, so [00:55:55] yeah, but sometimes, as you say, you have to take two steps forwards, go one step back. [00:56:00] And we learned from that. And it’s like we went back to how we used to do them. That [00:56:05] we tried it and didn’t work. I know it’s or have you been.

Payman Langroudi: Sometimes an early adopter on something?

Simon Caxton: I [00:56:10] lost share time and things like that.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah, but like maybe if you maybe been an early [00:56:15] adopter on something, bought a piece of equipment for hundreds of thousands, it turned out to be a turkey. Has that happened? [00:56:20]

Simon Caxton: Uh. No, we haven’t done that. Luckily, [00:56:25] we did buy one of the a couple of the early printers that came out. Um, [00:56:30] and we didn’t get very good results with those. So no, I [00:56:35] think we’ve from our side of it just owning our own lab. We’ve [00:56:40] not done that. So thankfully.

Payman Langroudi: Okay. Well we do we do like to discuss [00:56:45] mistakes on this pod. So tell me a mistake you’ve made then as a technician that [00:56:50] other technicians can learn from.

Simon Caxton: I was trying to think about this and and a lot of our mistakes [00:56:55] don’t don’t see the light of day. So we the dentist. I mean, we [00:57:00] dentists will get things that have gone wrong. I mean, I’ve built up a [00:57:05] small case in completely the wrong shade and sent it out. Uh, just because [00:57:10] I was busy didn’t really notice. I’ve got to get it done. I’ve got to get it. Get it [00:57:15] gone. Um, it’s being fitted tomorrow. Uh, I’ve done that. So, as I always [00:57:20] say to people, always read the ticket. And so I’m guilty of that. [00:57:25] I’ve fired a full arch of veneers on the wrong program [00:57:30] in the furnace and melted everything.

Payman Langroudi: Oh.

Simon Caxton: I’d like [00:57:35] that again. The night before that, that, just due to go out, sent a [00:57:40] rush case of a patient that was getting married to the wrong practice. [00:57:45] So it’s always.

Payman Langroudi: It’s always the ones you’re trying to help out.

Simon Caxton: And [00:57:50] so she was getting married. Uh, had to be there on this certain time and [00:57:55] whatever. Finished up the case up, put it on the side. And the person doing [00:58:00] the post put the wrong post label on it and sent it somewhere else. And so, [00:58:05] I mean, mistakes happen. Uh, I know that I’m not blaming them for that. It was just one of them things, but [00:58:10] it just happens to be that one that had to be there on that day.

Payman Langroudi: So what about [00:58:15] what about, like, um, like a business? What would you have done differently in the business?

Simon Caxton: Well [00:58:20] done differently.

Payman Langroudi: Uh, would you have grown quicker earlier, something like that, or at. [00:58:25]

Simon Caxton: The start, we always said we didn’t want to grow too big, and we wanted to try and keep it small. [00:58:30] And I think that the mistake from there was we [00:58:35] didn’t take on enough people and we tried to do too much. And that was [00:58:40] about, I would say, a big mistake because it had a big effect on me [00:58:45] and I couldn’t cope with it to the point that I wanted to walk away [00:58:50] as and really. Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: Anxiety.

Simon Caxton: Yeah. And overwhelmed. [00:58:55] And yeah, it was, it was bad. It was, I was, [00:59:00] I was really bad. It was like I, I think it’s because they’re trying to control too much [00:59:05] and trying to do too much and not trusting people to, to, to do other things. [00:59:10] And we didn’t get someone doing admin work for [00:59:15] about 4 or 5 years, maybe more. So we were trying to juggle that as well as [00:59:20] doing that like bench work as well. So.

Payman Langroudi: As [00:59:25] he would have not done that earlier.

Simon Caxton: Yeah, I think we should have, um, got more people in earlier. Um, [00:59:30] not necessarily to to grow bigger, but just to make life easier.

Payman Langroudi: Make [00:59:35] life easier?

Simon Caxton: Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: I mean, you said you said you you still stay at the lab till seven at [00:59:40] night.

Simon Caxton: Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: It’s just I’ve noticed that with labs as well, labs do late nights. [00:59:45] So why is that?

Simon Caxton: I think it’s just the nature of the job. [00:59:50] I when I started deadlines. Yeah, deadlines. And when I started, one [00:59:55] of the first things that someone said to me was, this is not a 9 to 5 job. You you will. [01:00:00] Be here late. You will work weekends and a lot of people [01:00:05] did that, I think it. I think the deadlines are the. The [01:00:10] biggest thing, and especially running your own lab. And your name is above the door. [01:00:15] You’ve got to spend. Why do I spend a lot of time doing a case? [01:00:20] And you want it to be right because. You’re only as good as your [01:00:25] last case. If it’s not right, then people are not going to send you work. And there’s always that fear [01:00:30] of especially for me, there was always that fear of people not to send any more work in. So [01:00:35] but I know plenty of technicians. That go through [01:00:40] these stages of working late nights. And so I [01:00:45] think the latest I’ve been in the lab is 2:00 in the morning and then go [01:00:50] home and then back in at like 5 or 6:00 [01:00:55] and then do it all again. And I know lots of yeah.

Payman Langroudi: As a business owner, you kind [01:01:00] of think, all right, there are going to be times where the business just needs you completely. But [01:01:05] how do you persuade, you know, your other techs, the guys, the employees [01:01:10] to stay late? Do you pay extra? What do you do? Or is it just known? It’s known if there’s a deadline [01:01:15] everyone has to chip in. How does it work? Yeah, I think I mean.

Simon Caxton: I think it goes [01:01:20] to the individual as well. Um, and I think it’s the same with any industry, not just Dental laboratory. [01:01:25] Uh, laboratories is you get people that are conscientious [01:01:30] and will chip in and help some. You have to ask some just do it. [01:01:35] We’ve always said that if something needs to get done, we don’t expect you to stay and do it [01:01:40] for nothing. We will pay over time, but we got to a point where [01:01:45] we knew we were doing too much, and we didn’t want people to miss out on home [01:01:50] life and stuff as well. So we don’t we don’t make people stay. [01:01:55] I think if we really need need them to, we will, we will, we’ll ask. [01:02:00] But we understand if they can’t or they don’t want to, we pay them to [01:02:05] do a job from 9 to 5. And I think now going [01:02:10] forward, we we just need to get more people in if it gets too busy, [01:02:15] rather than expecting to put extra workloads onto other people. I mean, I’ve [01:02:20] done, I think like 27 days straight in the lab when we started [01:02:25] off like late, early, early mornings, late nights.

Simon Caxton: And [01:02:30] you can’t do that. And I wouldn’t want to expect that. And I don’t expect other people to [01:02:35] do that. So because it had a big effect on me and yeah, I, [01:02:40] one of the a guy that used to work with us just started up his own lab. And [01:02:45] those labs, you go through stages, it’s like feast or famine. You’ll have no work, and [01:02:50] then you’ll be absolutely snowed under. And you want to please those people. So you want to get [01:02:55] all the work that’s come in, you want to do because you haven’t had any and you don’t want to upset anybody. So you just [01:03:00] do it. And I think sometimes it can be. Detrimental to the [01:03:05] to what you’re trying to achieve because, yeah, you’re not doing your best. Like, [01:03:10] I wouldn’t want my tape made by someone who’s been up since 5:00 [01:03:15] in the morning and finishing my work at 1:00 the next morning. Yeah. [01:03:20] So you’ve got to take that into consideration as well. Um, but [01:03:25] I think, yeah, there’s there’s lots of labs, uh, technicians that do work weekends still and [01:03:30] do work late.

Payman Langroudi: It’s in the culture, isn’t it? It’s in the culture of technicians, I’ve noticed. Yeah, I.

Simon Caxton: Think in [01:03:35] the older technicians as well. I think that’s just because the way not so much the younger ones now, [01:03:40] maybe because they’ve realised, like the older ones have realised [01:03:45] what’s and don’t want others to go through it like I have.

Payman Langroudi: So Simon, when you sold [01:03:50] this business, is there a period of time where you have to stay in it?

Simon Caxton: Uh, [01:03:55] there is, yeah. Um, but I’m not looking to go anywhere. [01:04:00] And I’m not just saying that I’m not looking to go anywhere anytime soon. You’re happy? Yeah. I’m happy doing what I do. [01:04:05] I made it.

Payman Langroudi: So in a way, you kind of took some money off the table. All the money off the table. [01:04:10] And now you’re an employee there. Is that how it works? Yeah.

Simon Caxton: That’s it. Yeah. So, um.

Payman Langroudi: Oh, amazing. [01:04:15] So what was your feeling on the day that you signed it away? Was it like pride? Was it relief? [01:04:20] Was it elation? Was it emptiness? Like a lot of people say they [01:04:25] feel empty when they sell their business. How did you feel? Probably a bit of all of those things.

Simon Caxton: I didn’t feel empty. [01:04:30] I felt excited because I feel. Yeah. And. That. [01:04:35] I mean, I felt pride as well because I’ve, I’ve not just me, but Lee as [01:04:40] well. We’ve built up this business that somebody else wants. So it’s got it’s got value for someone. But [01:04:45] yeah. Yeah, it did feel like we were given a little bit of ourselves [01:04:50] away because we’d built up this, this business, and we’ve put a lot of our heart [01:04:55] and soul into it over the last 15 years. But. I was excited because [01:05:00] we’re now part of this group, especially in the UK. There’s four labs in the in the group [01:05:05] and we’re almost like a bit of a Start-Up because we’re, we’re getting we’re starting [01:05:10] up the UK arm of the European. So we’re finding our feet [01:05:15] with that, and we’ve got processes that we need to put in place and systems that we need to put [01:05:20] in place. And it it gave us a bit of a, um, new lease of life, really. [01:05:25] I think we’ve come a bit stale doing our same [01:05:30] thing every day, turning up, making our cases and going home. And you say, why [01:05:35] I was still here till seven because I, I get in at eight. I go home at [01:05:40] seven. That’s my day.

Payman Langroudi: That’s what you.

Simon Caxton: Do. Yeah. And that’s what I’ve done for the last [01:05:45] ten, 15 years.

Payman Langroudi: So did you go and buy something, go crazy by and buy [01:05:50] a fast car or something? Did you. I mean, did you enjoy it?

Simon Caxton: No, [01:05:55] I’ve got a I’ve got a phone. I’ve got a fast car. Um.

Payman Langroudi: What [01:06:00] did you do? I mean, did you take more holidays or. You’re just working just as hard? [01:06:05]

Payman Langroudi: Um.

Simon Caxton: Nothing’s really changed yet. I’m just carrying on the same. [01:06:10] When did you sell it?

Payman Langroudi: When did you sell it? December. Oh, I see, it’s very new.

Simon Caxton: Yeah. [01:06:15]

Payman Langroudi: So it’s very new. All right. I’m gonna. So. Yeah. Call me when. Call me when you get the, you know, [01:06:20] flat in Miami.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah. I’m gonna.

Simon Caxton: Spend it all.

Payman Langroudi: On, uh.

Simon Caxton: Women cars and.

Payman Langroudi: Drink [01:06:25] and.

Simon Caxton: The rest I’m gonna waste.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah, exactly. [01:06:30] Alex Higgins. Yeah. George Fest, I think, said that. How was it? [01:06:35] Was it was it?

Payman Langroudi: So, listen, man, um, it’s a lovely sort [01:06:40] of opening into this, this area of Dental, Tex. That I wanted to go into. Your [01:06:45] desire to be the best. Yeah, but you must be right. The two of you must have decided. [01:06:50] Yeah, that you’re gonna. You’re gonna position this, this lab at the [01:06:55] the position that you’ve positioned it right, which is very sort of high end aesthetic. [01:07:00] Yeah. At what? At what point did that do you feel like a flip happened where, you know, you [01:07:05] said you said you weren’t interested in A levels. You got into NHS labs. [01:07:10] And at what point was it that you decided, oh God, I’m going to be the best at something? Was that always within [01:07:15] you?

Simon Caxton: That’s within me, I think, as just everything I do. Really? [01:07:20] Yeah. So, I mean, I wouldn’t say I’m the best technician by a long shot. I, [01:07:25] I can.

Payman Langroudi: Do it, but you’re going to.

Payman Langroudi: Try. Yeah, I’m.

Payman Langroudi: Going to try.

Simon Caxton: I’m going to try to be the best I can. I’m, I [01:07:30] can do a good case. I can do some nice cases I can do, I can do some shockers [01:07:35] and like anybody else. So, um, there’s some fantastic technicians out there. There really is. And there’s [01:07:40] some real artists. And I still look at their work, and especially now with social media on [01:07:45] Instagram and things like that. You see these cases and I look at that all the time and think, I want [01:07:50] to do that. That’s where I want to be. And I’m still pushing to get up to those cases. But [01:07:55] I started playing golf a few years back and [01:08:00] I practised every day. Every single day I would be at the driving range because I wanted to get better and better and [01:08:05] better. Uh, I bought my my now wife an engagement ring. I learned all [01:08:10] there was to learn about diamonds, the different polarities, the different cuts. I’ve done all [01:08:15] this research on them and everything like that. I go into, like, massive [01:08:20] detail. Um, and then I get bored of it and I move on to the next thing I don’t. Maybe [01:08:25] that is some kind of ADHD thing, I don’t know, but, um, but as [01:08:30] far as I’m concerned, that’s just me. Uh.

Payman Langroudi: So what are the hobbies of yours?

Simon Caxton: I [01:08:35] play rugby, I still play rugby. Um.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah.

Simon Caxton: So that’s quite a good release for [01:08:40] me, especially if you’ve had a. That’s how stressful week at work. [01:08:45] I just imagine a team of 15 dentists in front of me and I can run [01:08:50] them over.

Payman Langroudi: Flatten them.

Simon Caxton: People often ask me, [01:08:55] why are you so aggressive on the rugby pitch?

Payman Langroudi: I’ve got a question for you, buddy. [01:09:00] As far as like other countries, which one? Which ones do you rate as far as their [01:09:05] technicians? Because. Or am I wrong on this? Am I looking at it in the wrong way? Because. [01:09:10] Because I had some German technicians, man. And the work fitted like the occlusion and [01:09:15] the fit was amazing.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah.

Simon Caxton: And yeah, German technicians. But [01:09:20] it’s like with German cars and engineering. Yeah, they’re so precise. [01:09:25] And I think their way, their education system is as well like is [01:09:30] is great. And to own a lab you have to be a master dental technician. [01:09:35] You can’t open up a lab unless you’ve got this master dental technician status. [01:09:40] Yeah. So.

Payman Langroudi: Um.

Simon Caxton: There. Worked fantastic. [01:09:45]

Payman Langroudi: Where else? Um, Italy. Brazil? Yeah, Italy, Italy and.

Simon Caxton: Brazil have got some fantastic technicians. [01:09:50] I think every country has got really good technicians. Um, I mean, the Japanese [01:09:55] as well, they’re known for, for their work and I would say probably [01:10:00] like in terms of like ceramic work and you’re probably looking at like Japan. [01:10:05] Italy. Yeah. Brazil. But inside [01:10:10] every country’s got their great ones. So.

Payman Langroudi: And who of of the sort of [01:10:15] big famous or not famous for that matter. Who are your, like, heroes? Like who are the people [01:10:20] you look up to so far as technicians?

Simon Caxton: Gaspar Guerra For me, I’ve [01:10:25] been on about 4 or 5 of his courses, and I was lucky enough to spend a [01:10:30] week in his lab in Barcelona a few years back, just just with him and [01:10:35] two other technicians. Who else is there as like Oliver Bricks? [01:10:40] There’s guy that is an Argentinian technician who I went on a course with this year, Mariano [01:10:45] Maurizi. Fantastic work. I mean, I say I’ve [01:10:50] seen so many of them and some of them twice. Three times even, just [01:10:55] because I don’t think I learned enough from them the first time. Um, but [01:11:00] can you.

Payman Langroudi: Explain it to me? Like like if I go on a dentist course. Yeah, it might be something about composite [01:11:05] bonding for the sake of the argument. Yeah. Um, it might be the anteriority. What kind of courses? Like how how [01:11:10] detailed does it go? Like, what kind, of course do you go on? So what are you learning on that course.

Simon Caxton: So most of them are [01:11:15] ceramic layering courses. And there’s only so many ways you can [01:11:20] layer a crown. But they each will have their own sort of technique. [01:11:25] And I’ve been on sort of show taking courses and how to understand [01:11:30] the different opacities of the ceramics and, and the different translucency, where [01:11:35] to apply them. So each one has their own sort of little spin on it [01:11:40] and their own technique. And some are with one manufacturer work [01:11:45] with one manufacturer’s ceramic, others will work with another one and another one, [01:11:50] and you just take bits from each one and and pick something up, like layering [01:11:55] ceramic gum work as well and learning like that’s only [01:12:00] really probably 5 or 6 different colours of pink, but it’s [01:12:05] the way they use them and where they put them that makes it look so lifelike. [01:12:10]

Payman Langroudi: And I just we don’t appreciate us.

Payman Langroudi: We don’t appreciate sometimes that with with your [01:12:15] work, between the actual layering and the final piece, there’s a there’s a [01:12:20] change in dimension in the teeth. Right?

Payman Langroudi: Yeah.

Simon Caxton: So with the ceramic you have to build it up bigger, [01:12:25] uh, to start with because it will shrink.

Payman Langroudi: It’s weird. But yeah.

Simon Caxton: So if [01:12:30] you get an effect in the wrong place and it shrinks down, yeah, you’ve got to cut it out [01:12:35] or start again. It’s really hard.

Payman Langroudi: What’s the percentage of shrink?

Payman Langroudi: They used to.

Simon Caxton: Be quite [01:12:40] big, but it’s it’s not so much now. So if I might over build a [01:12:45] central by a millimetre in length and it will shrink down a millimetre. Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: So [01:12:50] and you just have a feel for how much it’s going to shrink with that particular material.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah.

Simon Caxton: You do. You get [01:12:55] used to the material you use. So I all I use all ivoclar ceramics and [01:13:00] I have them for quite a few years now. So I’m kind of used to how they react. [01:13:05] And I know what’s going to happen. But they might pick up another [01:13:10] ceramic and it might shrink more, or it might have more opacity [01:13:15] so than the other dentine. So they’re all different and it’s just getting [01:13:20] used to the one you use. Um. You can have some really good results, [01:13:25] like one technician might get a really good result with one ceramic, and another technician might get [01:13:30] a completely different result with that ceramic.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah. What works in your hands right.

Payman Langroudi: So [01:13:35] but.

Simon Caxton: Yeah, most of my courses have been ceramic courses. I’ve done CAD courses and [01:13:40] implant courses and but overall the courses I’ve ever done and I used to go [01:13:45] to like the Bacb conferences and um, like the DTA or the dental technology [01:13:50] shows. And I used to go and sit in the dentist’s lectures [01:13:55] because I wanted to understand what they were doing.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah, yeah, I wanted.

Simon Caxton: To [01:14:00] know the bit before I get it, what they’re doing. And if I can understand that, then I’ve got that [01:14:05] bit more understanding. On where the problems could lie and [01:14:10] what their thinking is behind things. But I very rarely see dentists on that [01:14:15] technician’s courses or in technicians lectures.

Payman Langroudi: The ones who go are the really top [01:14:20] ones. Oh yeah, oh yeah, I’ve noticed. Yeah, definitely. And then you get [01:14:25] that wonderful master race of, of human who’s like started out as a technician and then [01:14:30] become a dentist.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah. Like coach which.

Payman Langroudi: Coachman? I, um, [01:14:35] uh, Neil Gerrard was one in the UK. Yeah, but it’s [01:14:40] a very unique position, isn’t it? It’s a unique. You must know loads like you must know several. Right.

Payman Langroudi: Um, [01:14:45] well not.

Simon Caxton: Really.

Payman Langroudi: There’s not, you know, there’s [01:14:50] not many.

Simon Caxton: That have gone from technician to dentist. Um, I tried, I got talked out of [01:14:55] it. I that was one of the things I wanted to do early on is like, oh, maybe I will go on and become a dentist and, and [01:15:00] that now you can you’ll be better off because it’s going to take you so many [01:15:05] years. And I was like, well, maybe, maybe not then, but maybe.

Payman Langroudi: And you [01:15:10] must be fully aware of, like this tension between technician and dentist when it comes to [01:15:15] in a way to make your life easier. He just needs to drill more, doesn’t he? [01:15:20] Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah, yeah, a.

Payman Langroudi: Dentist, but he doesn’t want to drill. He doesn’t want a drill, right. Because [01:15:25] he’s trying to be super minimal. Yeah.

Simon Caxton: Millimetre and a technicians millimetre a completely different. [01:15:30]

Payman Langroudi: Yeah. But but there is, there must be this like sweet spot, right. Isn’t it, [01:15:35] that there’s an amount of drilling that that would help both of you, the dentist [01:15:40] and the technician.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah. You’re very, very rarely.

Simon Caxton: Find it that sweet spot.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah, [01:15:45] yeah, yeah, yeah. But but also like, in the last ten, 15 years, you must have noticed people getting more [01:15:50] and more and more conservative. Yeah.

Simon Caxton: It’s come harder.

Payman Langroudi: It makes your life harder, right?

Payman Langroudi: Yeah.

Simon Caxton: Especially [01:15:55] so that’s where these contact lens veneers have sort of been coming back in as well because [01:16:00] you can make them a lot thinner. Again, they’re only right for certain situations. [01:16:05] But yeah, definitely people have become more conservative. Um, I think they’re more [01:16:10] scared of litigation and things like that. Um.

Payman Langroudi: So it’s [01:16:15] just the teaching and it’s like cutting enamels become like really bad thing to do nowadays, you know, [01:16:20] like it’s, it’s it’s everyone’s just, you know, I do a lot with the younger dentists and they [01:16:25] just don’t want to cut enamel, you know, at all. No. Um, whereas, [01:16:30] you know, back in, back in the day, people. Do you remember the whole Rosenthal [01:16:35] wave as that came through?

Payman Langroudi: Yeah.

Simon Caxton: So, um, I kind of.

Payman Langroudi: What stage were you at when that [01:16:40] happened?

Simon Caxton: I just started working with Rob, and then he went on the course, [01:16:45] and he even went over to one of the labs in New York to learn how they were doing it. And so. [01:16:50] Well, I mean, we were doing loads of cases when that first started, I didn’t start, [01:16:55] I was still doing sort of diagnostic waxing at that stage, but I was I was waxing [01:17:00] up probably three cases a day of those and then moved on to [01:17:05] the ceramic side of it. Um, and that was a lot of feldspathic veneers. [01:17:10] So it’s kind of gone full circle again now. But yeah.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah, yeah.

Simon Caxton: We [01:17:15] saw some, uh, pretty aggressive preps in those things.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah [01:17:20] absolutely man. Well it’s been a massive pleasure. I’m going to end it with our usual [01:17:25] questions okay.

Simon Caxton: I’ve been thinking long and hard.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah. [01:17:30]

Payman Langroudi: Fantasy dinner party. Three guests. Dead or alive.

Payman Langroudi: Who would you have? [01:17:35]

Simon Caxton: So my first one, without a doubt, would be Rik Mayall, the comedian.

Payman Langroudi: Amazing. [01:17:40] I absolutely the young ones. Yeah.

Simon Caxton: I love the young ones growing up, big fan of [01:17:45] like bottom and that sense of humour. And when [01:17:50] he died I was absolutely gutted. I was I’ve never met the guy, [01:17:55] only seen him on TV, but it left a big hole. Um, for me. [01:18:00]

Payman Langroudi: I didn’t know he was dead, man.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah.

Simon Caxton: Yeah, about 15 years ago. I think it was quite [01:18:05] a while back. You’re kidding. No. Sorry to break that to you, Payman.

Payman Langroudi: Sorry. On air. On air. [01:18:10] I’m going to.

Payman Langroudi: Grieve right now.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah.

Simon Caxton: So, um. I still watch a lot of [01:18:15] the reruns of bottom and, um, the young ones and things like that. [01:18:20]

Payman Langroudi: What was that? What was.

Payman Langroudi: That political thing he was in was.

Payman Langroudi: Brilliant. Bastard.

Payman Langroudi: Bastard.

Payman Langroudi: Bastard. [01:18:25] Yeah.

Simon Caxton: And he could make me laugh a bit like Rowan Atkinson. Like [01:18:30] just his facial expressions. And I think someone like him [01:18:35] at a dinner party would really brighten things up. Absolutely. So I [01:18:40] think for entertainment value.

Payman Langroudi: That’s a.

Payman Langroudi: Goodie. Rik Mayall.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah. Um. [01:18:45]

Simon Caxton: And I like people that tell stories and say like, interesting [01:18:50] people. So my second one would be Richard Attenborough. So [01:18:55] sorry, not Richard Edwards, sir David Attenborough. David.

Payman Langroudi: David Attenborough. Yeah.

Simon Caxton: Just [01:19:00] because of what he’s seen in a lifetime and what he’s achieved. I mean, all [01:19:05] the plays, all the nature documentaries and all those things that not [01:19:10] many people get to see in real life. And he’s been there recording them and [01:19:15] all these different animals and. Bit like tribes [01:19:20] and whatever that you’ve seen throughout the world, I think you’d have a good few stories [01:19:25] to tell. I think he’d be a good after dinner speaker to sit back with a glass of port or [01:19:30] a nice whisky and just listen to.

Payman Langroudi: I mean, you might be [01:19:35] the most, the most, the most popular Brit right now, right.

Payman Langroudi: He I think so, yeah.

Payman Langroudi: 1997 [01:19:40] the you know, I reckon if, if, God [01:19:45] forbid anything, Amsterdam is going to be like a state funeral.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah, and rightly. [01:19:50]

Simon Caxton: So, and.

Payman Langroudi: Rightly.

Payman Langroudi: So. Yeah. Rightly so. Well rightly so. Who’s [01:19:55] your third?

Payman Langroudi: Oh no, I.

Simon Caxton: Struggled with this one, but. I’ll go. Gordon [01:20:00] Ramsay.

Payman Langroudi: Oh, really? Yeah. So I need someone.

Simon Caxton: To cook as well, so I [01:20:05] think.

Payman Langroudi: I think I.

Simon Caxton: Think you’d be quite good, but I just think because [01:20:10] I’ve listened, I’ve read his books and.

Payman Langroudi: He’s fun. He is fun.

Payman Langroudi: He’s I think.

Simon Caxton: He’s got a good sense of.

Payman Langroudi: Humour, but. [01:20:15]

Simon Caxton: I think he’s I mean, he’s a good businessman. So I think I could learn a thing or two off of him. [01:20:20] And I think with chefs and, and technicians, I think some of it’s slightly similar, as [01:20:25] I said earlier, like it’s their name above the door sometimes.

Payman Langroudi: Behind the scenes as well.

Simon Caxton: They have to check [01:20:30] everything. And we were a bit like that as well as like a lead technician. You’re [01:20:35] kind of.

Payman Langroudi: Guide in all these.

Payman Langroudi: Making sure everything’s.

Payman Langroudi: Right. Yeah.

Simon Caxton: And then you’re checking that [01:20:40] final dish or case before it goes out. And I think [01:20:45] I’ve seen him on TV and he can be quite harsh, [01:20:50] but sometimes I think he’s harsh but fair. And then when people do something right, he’s full of praise [01:20:55] for them. And that’s where I’d like to be, and that’s how I’d like people to be. If it was my kids [01:21:00] working for someone like that, I think that would be. It’d be hard, but fair, I think.

Payman Langroudi: So [01:21:05] I think.

Payman Langroudi: He’s normally right isn’t he?

Payman Langroudi: Yeah. So I think.

Payman Langroudi: That’s the thing.

Simon Caxton: I could learn a lot [01:21:10] from him. I think I could still be entertained by him and well fed as well. So, uh.

Payman Langroudi: It’s [01:21:15] a different kind of dinner party where the guest is doing the cooking, but. All right, there you go. Yeah, I’ll give you that. The [01:21:20] final question. It’s a deathbed question. Okay. [01:21:25] On your deathbed, surrounded by your loved ones. Gotta [01:21:30] give him three pieces of advice. What would that be?

Simon Caxton: First one would be. Don’t [01:21:35] work too hard. Like make time for your family. Like I, [01:21:40] I did something unlike you. You mean I did something that I said I would never do, [01:21:45] especially with two young kids. I spend more time at the lab than I did at home. Um. [01:21:50] Which I really, really regret. Yeah. So spend [01:21:55] more time with your family and just don’t work so hard. Work smart, not hard. [01:22:00]

Payman Langroudi: How old are they now? Like 17?

Payman Langroudi: 18? Yeah. 17.

Simon Caxton: 117 next week. And the other [01:22:05] one’s 15. So, uh.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah. Yeah. So I know the feeling.

Payman Langroudi: You suddenly you suddenly [01:22:10] realise they’re about to go, right.

Payman Langroudi: That’s it. Yeah, yeah.

Simon Caxton: So that’ll be my first part. [01:22:15] Travel more. See the world. Don’t don’t get pinned down to one [01:22:20] spot. I like going on nice holidays and. Same places. [01:22:25] I don’t like to lay around on the beach too much. I want to see what’s there. I like going [01:22:30] to somewhere different and experience the culture and the the food. [01:22:35]

Payman Langroudi: Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: Just go do some of your favourite places.

Payman Langroudi: You go. Um.

Simon Caxton: New [01:22:40] York is probably one of my favourite.

Payman Langroudi: I love New York. Yeah. Um, do [01:22:45] you.

Payman Langroudi: Know people there?

Payman Langroudi: No, I just went there.

Simon Caxton: Um, we went there a couple of years ago with the kids, and [01:22:50] they loved it. We had a great, probably one of our best holidays. Like family holidays. It was only there five days, [01:22:55] but it’s one that’s stuck in everybody’s mind. I like different [01:23:00] places in Europe, so I love Barcelona.

Payman Langroudi: Um, yeah.

Simon Caxton: That’s really nice. Which which [01:23:05] is quite nice as that’s where chorus headquarters are. So gets.

Payman Langroudi: Uh.

Simon Caxton: Hopefully [01:23:10] get to go there a bit more. Thailand. Love Thailand.

Payman Langroudi: I love Thailand and [01:23:15] Asia.

Simon Caxton: We’re going we’re going back this year. We’re going to Vietnam this year. So.

Payman Langroudi: Well [01:23:20] it’s lovely to travel right. But I if I, if it was me I’d extend on top of that [01:23:25] piece of advice travel young as well.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: Before you’ve made your mind [01:23:30] up about everything.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah definitely.

Payman Langroudi: Although although maybe you’re saying your mind is still open and you’re, [01:23:35] you know, you know, there are that some people are like that, but, you know, I don’t know, man. 115 [01:23:40] star hotel in Thailand. So it’s similar to another one in wherever. Yeah. And [01:23:45] I’m not saying I want to go to five star hotel but but I also don’t want a backpack [01:23:50] and things anymore. Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: Whereas whereas when, when you were in that backpack where [01:23:55] you’re meeting and you’re open to everyone and everything, it’s gold. It’s proper gold. Young [01:24:00] travel.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah. So I did.

Simon Caxton: I travelled around Australia for uh, a few months when [01:24:05] I was.

Payman Langroudi: Um.

Payman Langroudi: How was that.

Payman Langroudi: Amazing. Yeah, it was great.

Simon Caxton: Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: Um.

Simon Caxton: And [01:24:10] I went with my now wife. So that’s one way to make or break a relationship [01:24:15] is to live in each other’s pockets for 24, seven for a few [01:24:20] months.

Payman Langroudi: Um, yeah.

Simon Caxton: So it definitely made it, but I was. Yeah, only [01:24:25] 22, 23 when we did that. So as you say yeah [01:24:30] I agree. Travel young. Um, my daughter’s already said to me, I want to do a gap year. And I’m like, yeah, [01:24:35] do it. Like.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah, yeah.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah, yeah. I’m saying the same to my son. Yeah, I’m saying the same. [01:24:40] All right. So don’t work too hard.

Payman Langroudi: More. Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: And [01:24:45] what’s the third one?

Payman Langroudi: Just just, uh.

Simon Caxton: I’ve [01:24:50] been. I’ve thought long and hard about this one and I couldn’t get the third one. But maybe [01:24:55] just try and be the best you can at whatever you decide to do. That’s [01:25:00] what I’ve tried to do. Just tried to do my best. You’re not going to please [01:25:05] everybody all the time, but. As long as you’re happy. And. Yeah. [01:25:10] Don’t don’t take things to heart. I mean, I do know I have done I you [01:25:15] spend all this time on something and if it don’t go right, I’m, I’m, I’m too hard [01:25:20] on myself. I, I just need to chill out more. So. Yeah. Maybe just. It [01:25:25] feels like I was telling my kids that. Tell them just to chill out more.

Payman Langroudi: But [01:25:30] you know, it’s a funny thing because, you know, that thing they say to you, I bet you’re in meetings, [01:25:35] these sort of corporate meetings with these people now. Yeah, yeah. Where it’s it’s almost like what [01:25:40] got you here isn’t going to get you to the next step. It’s a different skill that’s going to get you [01:25:45] to the next step. Yeah. And but you know that idea of your [01:25:50] biggest strength being your biggest weakness, sort of like let’s say you’re a massive [01:25:55] perfectionist. Well, as a as a dental technician, that’s super important. I want my technician to be a massive [01:26:00] perfectionist. And yet that perfectionism is also the [01:26:05] thing that brings you down. The slightest thing doesn’t work out, and it makes you stress [01:26:10] or you get anxiety. You know what I mean? Yeah, or it could be anything. You’re super [01:26:15] kind. But then, you know, kindness sounds like such a brilliant thing. How could it [01:26:20] possibly go wrong? But then maybe you don’t like confrontation and you can’t fire anyone. Yeah. You know, like [01:26:25] things like that. Yeah. It’s super interesting. It’s been a massive pleasure, man. I’ve really enjoyed [01:26:30] it. Thank you so much for doing this.

Simon Caxton: Yeah I hope to see more technicians on here. So I’ve been a big. [01:26:35]

Payman Langroudi: Yeah.

Payman Langroudi: Well as I say I do plan it I do plan it. I’ve got another one for sure. And [01:26:40] another one who’s who I’ve promised I will. Excellent.

Payman Langroudi: So yeah, I’ve been a.

Simon Caxton: Long time listener and, [01:26:45] uh, I’ve always said there’s never any technicians on it. It’s like.

Payman Langroudi: I [01:26:50] was. I was aware of it.

Payman Langroudi: I was aware of it, but.

Payman Langroudi: Uh.

Payman Langroudi: But. Yeah. Thanks. Thanks [01:26:55] a lot for coming on, buddy. I really enjoyed that very much.

Payman Langroudi: Yeah. No, I enjoyed it, too.

Simon Caxton: Thank you for having me.

Intro Voice: This [01:27:00] is Dental Leaders, the podcast [01:27:05] where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your [01:27:10] hosts. Payman Langroudi and Prav [01:27:15] Solanki.

Prav Solanki: Thanks for listening, guys. If you got this far, you must [01:27:20] have listened to the whole thing. And just a huge thank you both from me and pay for actually sticking [01:27:25] through and listening to what we’ve had to say and what our guest has had to say, because I’m assuming [01:27:30] you got some value out of it.

Payman Langroudi: If you did get some value out of it, think about subscribing. And [01:27:35] if you would share this with a friend who you think might get some value out of it too. Thank [01:27:40] you so so, so much for listening. Thanks.

Prav Solanki: And don’t forget our six star rating.


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