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Jill St. Thomas joins Progressive Dental as CMO

David Krakow

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Jill St. Thomas. File photo.

When leadership at Clearwater-based dental marketing company Progressive Dental needed a new Chief Marketing Officer, they hired local and brought in Jill St. Thomas, who had recently finished a successful six-plus-year stint as CEO of Tampa Bay Tech.

St. Thomas, who lives in Tampa, officially started her position in mid-October and hit the ground running at the 65-person agency, founded by Bart Knellinger, who has several family members in the dental industry. The company, which was founded in 2009, has seen impressive growth in recent years. In 2020, Progressive Dental earned $11.5 million in revenue, which rose to over $41 million in 2022 and is projected to reach $70 million this year.

Progressive Dental, which has over 300 clients, works with dental practices of all stripes – periodontists and endodontists to oral surgeons and orthodontists – to refine their message and grow their businesses across numerous marketing platforms.

This is an exciting time in the industry, St. Thomas said, where enhancements in technology and an unwavering commitment to results are quite literally transforming patients’ lives. The industry “is in lockstep with tech advancements in support of a culture of clinical excellence, exceptional care and continuous learning.”

St. Thomas brings two decades of experience in branding, marketing and strategic planning. That includes, other than the stint as Tampa Bay Tech’s CEO, another three and a half years there as Director of Membership Engagement.

She recently worked with the City of Tampa’s Mayor’s Workforce Council – established by Mayor Jane Castor – working on a plan to help the city’s residents reach a baseline of access to technology. Having collaborated with many large tech companies, the group will be working to implement some of those findings in 2024.

St. Thomas left Tampa Bay Tech in September 2022 and took a yearlong sabbatical to spend time with family and recharge.

“It was a fantastic job and we accomplished a lot as a community,” she said of her time at Tampa Bay Tech. But she found the non-profit sector “challenging at times,” especially with the disruptions of Covid and the economic downturn. She also felt that after a decade, “it was time to take on something new and hand over the reins.”

She said she will have no problem maintaining the Zen-like qualities afforded during her time away from the corporate sector. “I work to approach each day with gratitude and calmness, and a sense of humor, of course. This is how I strive to show up in every aspect of my life, particularly in a leadership role.”

She feels that her experience – half a career on the agency side, the other half on the client side – positions her perfectly for this new role. “I do bring a unique perspective,” she said. “Along with the agency, we also run The Closing Institute which provides sales training, coaching, and strategic business consultancy. We are growing exponentially year over year, and I’m grateful to Bart and his team for giving me the opportunity to drive growth and innovation across the entire organization.”

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