Building catches up with the various offspring of the former Davis Langdon business
Last year Building profiled 17 businesses that were founded by former Davis Langdon staff in a popular online feature.
A lot has changed in a year, not least the retirement of the Davis Langdon brand by the consultant’s parent firm Aecom last autumn.
How have the start-up firms faired in the intervening period since we last checked in? We caught up with them to find out. Here’s what they said, in their own words:
Quantem Consulting - Founded August 2006
Who? Quantem Consulting llp – The original breakaway team in 2006. Now eight years on and well established in the London and South-east market. Currently developing our regional capability. Founding partners John Barbour / Mick Rogan / Blake Turner / Bruce Paterson.
Where based? Chancery Lane, London.
What they do? Quantity Surveying / Building Surveying / Engineering Services Quantity Surveying / EA / CA / CDMC.
How has your business changed over the past year? Planned growth. Staff numbers now up to 42. Client care and the quality of our service delivery remain the focus and strength for Quantem.
Highlight of the past 12 months? Expansion of London office space for 20 new desks. Winner of Building Magazine award for Consultant of the Year 2013 (fewer than 100 staff)
Most challenging aspect of the last 12 months? Regional growth. Looking beyond the London market.
Bremner Partnership - Founded March 2011
Who? Founded by Stuart Bremner in March 2011 (ex. DL equity Partner based in DL Cambridge office) & Tim Harwood (ex DL Cambridge).
Where based? Cambridge.
What they do? Project & cost management.
How has your business changed over the past year? 50% increase in turnover (2013/14)!
Highlight of the past 12 months? Continued repeat business from our existing client base, supplemented by major contract wins with new clients such as Homerton College in Cambridge and Amlin in Chelmsford.
Most challenging aspect of the last 12 months? Recruitment.
Richard Utting Associates LLP - Founded August 2011
Who? Founded by DL Senior Associate Richard Utting in August 2011. The practice is now eight strong having been joined by Mike Ladbrook, Daniel Key, Louis Scott, Adam Skoyles, Paul Sisson-Plane and Nicola Bury all previously of DL Norwich Office, with further growth anticipated.
Where based? Norwich.
What they do? Consultant offering Cost Management, Employers Agent and Project Management, Contract and Risk Advice, Bank Monitoring and Claims. Covering all the major sectors and have specific specialist expertise in Student Accommodation, Private and Public Residential, Sports & leisure, Education, Commercial, Industrial and Historic Buildings and are currently working on projects of between £500,000 and £35,000,000.
How has your business changed over the past year? The main change has been our growth in response to the needs of our clients and demand from consultants. We have added three senior staff members over the past year and plan to continue this growth level over the coming 12 months.
Highlight of the past 12 months? The highlight of the last 12 months has to be the continued support from clients and consultants. This has enabled RUA to secure sufficient long-term workload to enable us to invest in quality senior staff and grow with confidence.
Most challenging aspect of the last 12 months? Recruiting the right people has been key to our success. Given our previous DL links our team has fitted together seamlessly and we have been fortunate that our new recruits have been as keen to join our business as we are proud to have them. We have a great team that all pulls together for the good of the practice and our clients. We anticipate recruitment to be a greater challenge going forward as the economy improves than it has been over the previous 12 months.
CA4 Partnership - Founded November 2011
Who? Clive Searle and Tim Beresford, both ex-partners at Davis Langdon and Crosher & James prior to that. Our business is called The CA4 Partnership Ltd and details of our services and the people that deliver them can be found at www.ca-4.co.uk.
Where based? We deliver a national service from offices in Worcester and Birmingham, but due to a growing client list in London and the South-east we are currently considering a further office in the Capital. This expected expansion will help with building strong relationships with other professional service providers, who expect national insight, delivered locally.
What they do? Since leaving Davis Langdon and establishing CA4, a capital allowances consultancy, we have been able to focus all our efforts on what we are good at, delivering a high quality capital allowances service to our clients and their advisers. The services we provide are very much hands-on and delivered by one of our directors, all of whom are RICS qualified surveyors, each with over 20 years’ experience in this niche area of tax. Our Directors also hold relevant tax and business qualifications.
How has your business changed over the past year? The business has grown steadily over the past year, despite the challenging market conditions and we are pleased that one of our long-standing colleagues Satnam Kainth has joined us. He had been at Crosher and James / Davis Langdon since 1990 and has an incredible wealth of experience, which means we can now boast more than 75 years of combined expertise in capital allowances.
Highlight of the past 12 months? Apart from Satnam joining the firm it would have to be the increasing number of old clients and former colleagues who have also left DL but remained in contact with us. It has also been pleasing to see how well they are all doing and that it is the expertise and experience which clients value, not the name you trade under.
Most challenging aspect of the last 12 months? The higher profile of capital allowances has led to many new “faceless” entrants into the arena, some of whom rely heavily on ‘industrial scale’ marketing structures and others that have no real depth of experience but look great on a glossy website. Differentiating ourselves from these types of competitors is becoming an increasing challenge, but we’re confident the quality of our service and the endorsements we receive will ensure we continue our upward growth path.
TKR Consultancy - Founded November 2011
Who? Founded by former DL Partner Tim Knee-Robinson.
Where based? Bedford.
What they do? TKR is solely owned and run by Knee-Robinson. Its key services are NEC contract advice and training covering all sectors; project management - focused on education, cultural and industrial sectors. It covers the whole of the UK (NEC advice and project management) and Hong Kong (NEC advice only).
How has your business changed over the past year? Turnover has steadily increased with a focus on a number of key clients.
Highlight of the past 12 months? Opportunities to expand the business and bring in some staff.
Most challenging aspect of the last 12 months? Getting the balance with having the right amount of work.
Exigere - Founded March 2012
Who? The practice was founded in March 2012 by former DL Partners Richard Hopper, David Happell and Daniel Fryer. We have recruited talented individuals from across the industry, including a number of former DL colleagues, but our focus is on organic growth and developing our own talent here at exigere.
Where based? Clerkenwell, London. It’s one of the most creative parts of town and the architects, engineers and consultants with whom we work like the fact that we are here too - they can easily “pop in” to see us (and vice-versa) which makes for better team-working. Our clients and projects are predominantly based in London and the South-east.
What they do? We provide cost management services – it is our core skill and what we are best at – in sectors including commercial, residential, leisure, education and culture. Most of our experience is working with large established clients and consultants however we also enjoy sharing our expertise, supporting and guiding new clients and practices.
How has your business changed over the past year? Obviously our projects, client base and staff numbers have grown but perhaps more important is what has not changed over the last year and sticking to our original business strategy: to work with good clients and good architects, to forge long-term relationships and enjoy repeat business, to deliver an excellent partner-led service and ultimately to have fun along the way.
Highlight of the past 12 months? Our very first project (no. 000001), a new build development for Urban & Civic completed on site in 2013 and won a BCO Regional Award. It was a rewarding end to a great project and sets a benchmark for the type of developments we want to be involved in.
Most challenging aspect of the last 12 months? Maintaining the standards we are setting!
Southview - Founded March 2012
Who? Tony Llewellyn.
Where based? London.
What they do? Team Coaching, facilitation and behavioural change consultancy.
How has your business changed over the past year? More consulting work, and team coaching for project teams.
Highlight of the past 12 months? Completing my Masters in Coaching and Behavioural Change.
Most challenging aspect of the last 12 months? Slow decision making.
Core Five - Founded May 2012
Who? Founded by five former DL partners – Chris Amesbury, James Clark, Gerard Cook, Barry Hayden and Steve Pickersgill who were joined by three other former DL partners – Joseph Blythe, Gavin Travica and Alan Wall this year. Currently 36 strong and recruiting.
Where based? Blackfriars Road, London but planning their next move to larger premises later this year.
What? The first post takeover start up comprising senior Equity Partners and Heads of five sectors/geographies Core Five are arguably the pace setters in the new breed of ‘life after DL’ businesses. Competing in a number of arena’s, they constantly find themselves competing against the old major established practices. Having set the bar for others to aspire to, they are continuing to develop their team, systems and approach to ensure they stay ahead of the chasing pack. Core Five increased turnover by 400% last year, but will not chase turnover at the expense of quality. They are looking to develop a profitable sustainable and long term business. Principal specialisms and areas of focus include commercial, residential, corporate real estate, retail, culture, and tall buildings. Principal geographies are London, the South-east and the Nordics.
What they say? “Our clients and team are key and providing the best possible service is at the forefront of what we do. We are investing in the areas that clients value and ensure project success. We are not afraid of change, as ‘to improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often’”.
Random fact? Core Five’s five-a-side team has conceded 110 goals (so far) in its inaugural season. The summer transfer window is therefore likely to see significant activity in order to strengthen the defence before the next season kicks off!
Implementar - Founded May 2012
Who? Founded in May 2012 by former DL hotels and resorts partners Ian Memmott and Alasdair Maclean with new director appointment, ex DL hotels and resorts associate, Hossein Azemoudeh.
Where based? Fitzroy Square, London.
What they do? The firm offer cost, project and development management services in hotels, resorts and mixed use leisure destinations worldwide.
How has your business changed over the past year? The biggest change over the last year has been an increased number of prestige appointments on UK based schemes to complement our international portfolio. We have now firmly established ourselves as a leading “go to” practice in the hospitality and leisure sector of the market
Highlight of the past 12 months? The growth of our business with a varied profile of clients and projects in The Baltics, KSA, UAE, Qatar, Russia, Kazakhstan, Spain, Caribbean and the UK.
Most challenging aspect of the last 12 months? and also the most rewarding is managing the diverse requirements of our international client base.
Atorus - Founded May 2012
Who? Atorus Consult Ltd - Erland Rendall
Where based? Located in Durham, England but effectively in clients offices.
What they do? Business consultancy with the mantra of “making smarter work”. Providing third party strategic review, facilitation and strategic planning around business improvement and change. The changes in individual businesses either forced or planned have been as a consequence of succession planning, recovery from five years of financial crisis and difficult trading, investment decisions, prioritising, competition, new methods of working e.g. BIM/IPD, service development and innovation etc. Other area of work has included personnel development, coaching and personal development.
How has the business changed over the past year? Having initially undertaken construction consultancy work in London at the start of the year, opportunities arose in Edinburgh as well as the North-East of England to work with clients develop their people and business. In the latter stages of the year, an opportunity arose to work with Currie & Brown in the Middle-East, who had gone through a significant period of change, following their acquisition by Dar. This resulted in relocating to the United Arab Emirates.
Highlight of the past 12 months? Being contacted in April’13, by a former client of mine (from Davis Langdon) from Edinburgh, to come and provide urgent support and assistance for their complete Estate. Ten years on from that previous engagement, it was a terrific compliment to be both remembered and respected and be invited to re-engage with a terrific client and team. Their portfolio extended across the whole of Scotland and was a pleasure to work with them and a undertake a range of capital and on-going operational project work in addition to restructuring and aligning their property team.
Most challenging aspect of the last 12 months? Rapid transition from initially working with Nick Schumann to being on my own combined with the needs and demands of the market for immediate impact services. This was in contrast to medium to long-term strategic change and improvement projects where investment and confidence in the market recovery was still low. I’m pleased to say that this is now changing this year and business horizons and thinking are continuing to extend beyond immediate results to more fundamental and strategic planning and execution.
Quantex Qatar - Founded July 2012
Who? Founded by former partners Simon Trafford and Neil Hamilton.
Where based? Doha, Qatar.
What they do? Quantity surveying and project management – an independent, local, ‘Grade A’ registered consultant.
How has your business changed over the past year? Staff numbers have doubled and turnover has doubled too over the past 12 months – looking to do the same in the next year and grow the business to 50+ staff by the end of 2015.
Highlight of the past 12 months? Major projects being awarded in Qatar such as the rail, metro and World Cup 2022 projects and the ‘trickle-down effect’ across the industry as other works have started to be awarded from both private and government clients.
Most challenging aspect of the last 12 months? Establishing the brand as a serious competitor in Qatar to the ‘big name QS companies’ and founding director Simon Trafford leaving the business due to personal reasons.
Time | Quantum Expert Forensics Ltd - Founded October 2012
Who? Christopher Ennis and David Halford.
Where based? Austin Friars, City of London.
What they do? Independent quantum and delay analysis expert advice to the construction and engineering industries, acting as expert witness, adjudicator, mediator or arbitrator.
How has your business changed over the past year? Larger appointments and deploying bigger teams.
Highlight of the past 12 months? Exceeding our first year’s predicted turnover.
Most challenging aspect of the last 12 months? Chasing slow payers.
Tempus Delay Analysis - Founded November 2012
Who? Tempus Delay Analysis.
Where based? Fleet Street, London.
What they do? Forensic analysis of construction delays. Dispute resolution and expert witness work.
How has your business changed over the past year? We didn’t think it was possible to get busier but we have. However, in order to maintain our traditional high level of partner involvement and quality of end product, we have continued to maintain a compact team rather than give in to the urge to grow too fast.
Highlight of the past 12 months? Continuing to attract the sort of blue chip clients and marquee projects that we did when we were in the Davis Langdon stable.
Most challenging aspect of the last 12 months? Politely declining new offers of work when there is simply no space in the diary.
Schumann Consult - Founded January 2013
Who? Founded by Nick Schumann and his son Mark Schumann.
Where based? London, Manchester, Dubai, Australia and South Africa.
What they do? Specification consulting and design management.
How has your business changed over the past year? Turnover grown 400% and numbers staff increased from five to 13 plus teams in Australia and South Africa.
Highlights of the past 12 months? Securing commissions with both old and new architectural clients in UK and middle east. Wlcoming talented individuals to the business all of whom own shares. Opening new offices overseas. Developing a very successful relationship with Rider Levett Bucknall.
Most challenging aspect of the last 12 months? Maintaining quality and client satisfaction during a period of significant growth.
REAL Consulting - Founded January 2013
Who? REAL Consulting LLP. Stephen Brown (former DL equity Partner), Mark Baxter (former DL Partner), Alex Walker, Alan Hepburn, Mark Howard, Dale Bunting, Maurice Land (former Lovewell Blake accountants, senior Partner)
Where based? Norwich.
What they do? Project management, cost management including employers agent/contract administration.
How has your business changed over the past year? Established in January 2013, with three members the team has now grown to 7. A successful first year with turn over growing and client base expanding but still focused on the local market place.
Highlight of the past 12 months? Achieving recognition from existing and new clients and consultants that we are still the ‘go to’ team, locally. Being able to deliver a REAL quality service, by experienced people without the need for huge overhead support.
Most challenging aspect of the last 12 months? Not forgetting the need to continue to celebrate successes and take some time out, as the business and workload grows. Settling on a new local pub to call ‘home’ in a city with many great pubs.
Alinea Consulting - Founded May 2013
Who? alinea consulting LLP.
Where based? 30-34 New Bridge Street, London EC4.
What they do? Cost consultancy.
How has your business changed over the past year? We have grown to 38 people in 12 months and are continuing to recruit to reflect our future pipeline of work. We have recruited key people in the areas of research, MEP, facades cost consultancy and BIM; all complementing our core purpose of service excellence. All of this means there is now a search for a larger office and a queue to play table tennis!
Highlight of the past 12 months? The level of interest in our business and positive reaction from previous clients and colleagues. We are also particularly proud of creating of a fantastic team of people with a like-minded passion for what we do and how we do it, whilst having fun together!
Most challenging aspect of the last 12 months? Staying on top of the welcome gifts and birthday cards! Making tea and coffee has also become more of a negotiation, particularly the washing-up bit!
MBW Cost Consultants did not respond to Building’s request for comment