POST ONLINE: QuestGates subsumes TS Adjusting in property restructure

2nd July 2018
This article has been reproduced

Exclusive: QuestGates will incorporate Northampton-based TS Adjusting under its existing brand, as part of a restructure of its third party property damage services.

From 18 July, Stuart Lansdown will oversee QuestGate’s new third party property damage division, while Dan Welsford has been appointed operations manager and Tom Massarella will take on the role of training and development manager.

The team will remain based in Northampton and there is not expected to be any merging of offices, QuestGates managing director Chris Hall told Post.

Three redundancies

In the run up to the changes, QuestGates has brought surveyors from its different businesses together, which has led to three redundancies for TS Adjusting staff members.

Hall said that the business is increasingly looking to use apps and digital methods, which meant that the business no longer needed some lower level surveyors.

Hall confirmed that while there were redundancies, the business has hired additional senior surveyors and has added “about a dozen” adjusters across QuestGates over the past six months.

“It is not a reduction in numbers, it is a change,” Hall told Post.

Hall added that there are no more redundancies expected across TS Adjusting and the addition of key contracts mean he is “anticipating” further recruitment in Northampton.

Management tension

QuestGates has turned TS Adjusting around, building it from a loss making business into a profitable one.  Hall said: “We bought TS Adjusting in 2015 and when we bought it, it was a loss making business. It is now a profitable business.”

However, the changes led to a “management walkout” last year, an anonymous source within the organisation told Post.

TS Adjusting’s former owners had stayed with the business, but left and were followed by some of its senior team, Hall confirmed. They were not replaced at the time, with Hall saying there was no need to fill the previous roles.

He said: “The middle of last year we started to change the model. As a result of that a couple of senior managers said to us: ‘we don’t like this change, we don’t want this change. If that is going to be the change then we are going to leave.’ And we said: ‘sorry, the world is changing, now with digital initiatives we need to move to being more expertise rather than volume led.’ A couple of former owners left nearly a year ago now and a couple followed them.

“When you do an acquisition, you don’t immediately do away with everybody, you look at the best way. There was duplication. We don’t buy businesses and then get rid of costs and cut it down. What we do is look at how we can best bring them in together. And that was done over a period. It became clear over a year ago that there weren’t going to be as many roles as there were. ”

As part of the deal to purchase TS Adjusting, QuestGates also purchased contractor network Artemis, which it resold to its management team last year. This led to further senior exits from the business, Hall confirmed.

The sale happened because Artemis did not fit QuestGates’ business model, according to Hall. He said: “Our view is that you should give customer choice – whether they want cash settlement or contractor repair network. And if you own a repair network, obviously you are going to go down that route. So we sold Artemis off 18 months ago now. We still do a repair option, but we use suppliers.”

Adding expertise through acquisition

QuestGates will now continue to target organic growth, though it has not ruled out further acquisitions. Hall said: “Our acquisition strategy is to buy specialist businesses to add expertise. TS Adjusting is a good example – we are bringing it slowly to where we want it to be.

“We’re where we want to be. We would look mainly at organic growth more than acquisitions. But the answer is we are looking at other acquisitions. They’re difficult to achieve, because the fit has to be right and the price has to be right.”

The loss adjuster’s most recent acquisition was Northern Irish specialist loss adjuster Neill, Simms & Co, which it bought shortly after acquiring a majority stake in London-based Hyperion in July 2017.