“Usually, rebranding takes months, but the stationer’s on Potter Street had a half-price offer on business cards”

Quentin Shears, 48, is a partner in a small Hertfordshire-based quantity surveyor, which last month was subsumed into The Gator Corporation, a Milwaukee-based construction multinational. The past few weeks have involved an intensive “onboarding” process, during which Quentin has been coming to terms with his new masters’ caffeine and brunch-fuelled work ethic.

With the consent of his anger management therapist, Quentin has agreed to share relevant excerpts from his “frustration diary” with Building.

The trouble with empires is that they never just leave you alone to get on with things. From Julius Caesar to Clive of India, they come in and, before you know it, they want to review projects, reappraise budgets and bring in their own people. Where Gator are concerned, this appears to have evolved into a search for what they are mysteriously but ominously calling “synergies”.

This quest has led to a great deal of uncertainty among the staff at Fearful & Bald - and where uncertainty leads, feverish speculation follows. The fear is that the company name, which is synonymous with sound cost management in the Bishop’s Stortford area, and has been unchanged since 1934, when Neville Bald signed over half his business to Reginald Fearful in return for Hertfordshire’s first towable caravan, might not have the requisite “synergy” to survive the takeover.

We all knew this issue was going to come to a head sooner rather than later. Usually, a rebranding process takes months to thrash out - there are focus groups to be consulted, PR strategies to be imagineered, interdepartmental conferences to attend - but it was common knowledge that the stationer’s on Potter Street was doing a half-price deal on business cards, and Gator would have been mad to miss out. If there was any chance of stopping F&B from becoming Gator UK we needed to act fast.

I decided to broach the matter with John Jr, the head of Gator’s Europe, Africa, Asia and South America division. As I left my office to search for him, he fell into stride beside me. Apparently, it’s a technique they learn in business school. “Quentin, you look anxious. Are you getting enough coffee?” he asked, offering me one of the two steaming mugs he was carrying.

“Yes, I’m fairly sure I am,” I replied, wearily accepting the mug anyway. “I wanted to talk to you about this name change though. Is it a fait accompli?”

“Hey Quentin! Why the language? I thought we were all friends here!”

I ploughed on. “The thing is, some of us are worried that ’Gator UK’ won’t resonate with our clients.”

“Jeez, is that what you’re worked up about?

We’ve already decided that the Gator brand isn’t quite appropriate for you guys. If Gator stands for anything, it stands for two things: bigness - I mean, we’re really huge - and heroism. We’ve got people building operating theatres in sub-Saharan warzones, looking for alternative energy sources in space - and who do you think is tying that knot in your BP pipeline? I mean, what you’re doing here with your quantity surveying is real nice, but it’s a little more … niche.”

“So we’re staying as F&B?”

“Well, not exactly … Hell, I suppose I can tell you now. The marketing team have been brunching since Tuesday trying to come up with an identity that says ’Gator’, but in a more … British way. It’s been a hell of a rush I’m afraid - there’s this place on Potter Street that’s got an amazing deal on business cards. Here, have a look …”

He took a freshly printed card out of his pocket. Next to a logo made up of what appeared to be a very small alligator was one word. That word was “newt”.

“It’s got synergy, Quentin,” John Jr said, stopping to take a swig of coffee. “Just not too much.”

As seen by Nick Jones