In late 1996, Robert Ratliff and Jamie Bartley left the U.S. Air Force with a new mission of service in mind. The determined pair cofounded Gator Ceramics Dental Lab in 1997 with the goal of changing lives one smile at a time by partnering with the dental community.
“In the Air Force, Jamie and I were trained by some of the best Board Certified Prosthodontists in the world,” said Ratliff. “We also had the rare opportunity to actually assist them as they did procedures on their patients. This gave us a unique clinical perspective of the restorations we were producing and allowed us to gain invaluable experience about how restorations need to be produced to look their best in the oral environment. We were trained in a culture focused on excellence, and we wanted to offer that level of skill in a civilian setting.”
Ratliff and Bartley have a passion for partnering with clients through education and communication. “We communicate often with the dentist, the oral surgeon, and the patient so that all members of the team are clear about the process and desired results,” said Ratliff. “We also learn from our clients as they share their dental experiences and customization needs.”
In 2012, Jeff Thomas merged his company, Thomas Dental Ceramics, with Gator Ceramics. After 30 years in operation, Thomas had developed a reputation for producing some of the most esthetic restorations around and had become the area’s leading expert on CAD/CAM technology.
Thomas, Bartley, and Ratliff have pooled experience and technology skills to operate one of the most revered dental labs in the nation. “We have been successful because we operate as an extension of the dental practice, working as a team with dentists and oral surgeons to create exceptional results,” said Ratliff. “Our products speak for themselves.”
Getting to Know Your Management Team
Robert is a native of Gainesville, FL (hence the name “Gator” Ceramics). He spent nine years stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City before leaving the military to pursue his dream of opening a dental lab.
Once he decided to act on his dream, he never looked back. “I had a lot of confidence in our business from the start simply because I knew how hard we were willing to work to be successful,” said Ratliff.
Brenda, Robert’s wife, shares his love for all things dental. She is employed as a dental assistant. Robert and Brenda have a 15-year-old son, Cody, and are members of Cypress Baptist Church.
Jamie is a native of West Virginia and an honor graduate from the U.S. Air Force Dental Lab Training School. He has an associate degree in Business from Bossier Parish Community College as well as an associates degree in Dental Laboratory from the U.S. Air Force.
He and his wife, Cathy, have five children and are members of Cypress Baptist Church. When he is not on the job, Jamie can be found pursuing his second calling as a dedicated coach for youth football, basketball or baseball. “Our children are tomorrow’s leaders,” said Bartley. “Coaching is my way of investing in the future of our community and our country.”
Jeff is a Certified Dental Technician, a member of the National Association of Dental Labs and a sustaining member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He was also trained in the U.S. Air Force Dental Program, has earned an Associate’s Degree in Dental Laboratory Technology, and is currently working toward a Bachelor’s Degree in Dental Lab from the University of Texas.
Jeff has four children and two grandchildren. He is a member of Cypress Baptist Church. An avid runner, Thomas has competed in the Boston Marathon and is a member and coach at USA FIT Shreveport. He is also a free-lance sports photographer. “I believe in staying active,” said Thomas. “My goal is to inspire others to do the same and have fun doing it.”
Gator Ceramics ~ 1308 Driftwood Drive ~ Bossier City, LA 71111 ~ 318-747-3022