In 1979, Des Kingdom was part of the first group of dental prosthetists in Australia. Ever
since, Des has been working directly with the public to provide quality workmanship to thousands of locals on the Coffs Coast and surrounding areas. In 2018, Des’ daughter, Elizabeth, took over ownership of the business, to enable Des more time to enjoy his family and love of golf – although he is still seeing his patients on a daily basis. FOCUS had a chat with Des, to find out more.
What is your connection to the Coffs Coast?
Having grown up in Armidale, I have had a long association with Coffs Harbour. My father was camped here with the Army, before being posted overseas. They were actually camped on what is now the 26th tee of the Coffs Harbour Golf Club. After that, it became a holiday destination for our family growing up. We had family living on the Coffs Coast, as I was related to the
Tell us about your profession.
In 1979, then dental technicians were registered to work
Take us back to the beginning. When and why did you start your business?
I commenced my apprenticeship in Armidale in 1963. On completion of this apprenticeship, I moved to Sydney and worked in Rose Bay. I then spent some time in Western Australia, before deciding to relocate closer to home. My wife, Jeanne, and I arrived in Coffs Harbour in 1975 and started working for Mr Bob Wilkinson, who had a commercial laboratory supplying local dentists. After working for Bob for two years, Jeanne and I decided to purchase the business from him and worked it as a commercial laboratory for a number of years. During this time, I also worked part-time at the Coffs Ex Servicemen’s Club.
The practice was moved to Dr Rayne McDonald’s medical centre in High Street, and we were there for a few years. In 1979 I became a Dental Prosthetist and was a member of the first group of Dental Prosthetists registered in NSW. In 1983 the practice was moved to its existing location,
Who will take over the reins, once you have retired?
My daughter, Elizabeth, has now purchased the business, having moved back to the Coffs Coast to work alongside me in the business as a technician in 2007. In 2013 Elizabeth became a dental prosthetist, and we have worked alongside each other ever since, forming a strong bond and providing a friendly and professional service to the community.
We also have a new prosthetist in the business, Gavin Braybrook, who has moved up from Victoria. His knowledge and experience will assist Elizabeth in the everyday running of the practice and allow me to step away from the business, although I will still turn up some days to ensure that everything is going OK.
How has your business evolved since it began?
Over the years, prosthetists have become more recognisable in the general public. As a result, our business has grown considerably, and with the addition of Elizabeth as a prosthetist, we have been able to provide a service for many people on the Coffs Coast.
It is great to see Elizabeth embracing new industry technology and becoming involved in digitally designing dentures and 3D printing try ins for our patients.
What was the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of the job is being able to see people leave our practice happy and smiling. The difference that we can make to people’s lives by providing new dental prosthetics that are functional and look great is why we do it.
Patients come back to our practice for ongoing services, and it is satisfying to be able to make a difference for these patients in their everyday lives.
Do you have any funny business stories you can share?
There have been many funny stories over the years. There was once a patient who arrived at the practice with his dentures in more than ten pieces and covered in mud. He had been on his tractor, and his dentures fell out while coughing. He had run over them with his tractor.
Another time a local nursing home phoned to say that ten patients had lost their dentures; could I help? When I arrived, we found that one patient had been stealing dentures and had them stashed under his sink. When I asked him what happened, he said that these dentures were no good, as none of them fit. Eventually, we were able to reconnect all of the patients with the correct dentures.
If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would they be and why?
My father, Gordon Kingdom; he had a profound influence on my life, and I miss him.
All of my family. Family is one of the most important things in my life.
Russell Crowe; I think he is a great actor and supporter of the local community.
Tell us about your love of golf.
I have played golf most Thursdays and Saturdays for the past 35 years. I have been a member of Coffs Harbour Golf Club during this time.
Golf to me is about the friendship of many mates and being able to hide away on approximately 150 beautiful acres in the middle of Coffs Harbour and five minutes from home. It allows me to relax and enjoy the camaraderie and banter that comes with being a member of the golf club.
It is great to see the golf club evolve, and the improvements that they have made over the years are a credit to all involved.
What plans do you have for retirement?
Jeanne and I intend to take a trip to Europe in the near future, do some cruising and blow the dust off the caravan. We look forward to being able to see our fantastic country. I can see myself parked up on the bank of a river somewhere.
We also look forward to spending more time with our grandchildren, as we watch them grow.
What do you enjoy about living on the Coffs Coast?
The climate, people and laid back nature of the Coffs Coast