THE partners of the first new home-grown commercial property company in Milton Keynes in over a decade are determinedly philosophical about the shock way its creation became necessary, writes business editor David Tooley.
Louch Shacklock and Partners LLP was formed on May 1 after the partners of long-established Douglas Duff took the decision to close the respected company with 14 redundancies on Friday April 27.
The circumstances under which Douglas Duff, with offices in Milton Keynes and Bedford, ceased trading are under investigation.
“Our professional livelihood was put in danger by actions outside our control,” said one of the five Louch Shacklock partners, Jonathan Whittle.
“But there was no way we were going to lose what we had built up over 20 years.
“We had to move quickly and decisively.” Although the end of Douglas Duff was a shock, he declined to dwell on it, prefering to see the circumstances as a ‘springboard’ to better things.
David Louch and Robert Shacklock, who are both respected names in the national commercial property scene, were joined by Jonathan Whittle, Tina Attwood and Graham Young in forming the new RICS-regulated firm.
Getting jobs with other firms may have crossed their minds but not for long.
Mr Young said: “These are people I trust and want to work with. We’re a great team. I don’t want to go anywhere else.
“The real excitement for me is being part of a fresh brand. We’re the first new commercial property agency in Milton Keynes, created by Milton Keynes people, in 15 to 20 years.
“We will be built around the modern, digital age, designed to be different and we have the opportunity to stand out from the crowd.”
The team has something like 70 years’ experience in solving commercial property problems in and around Milton Keynes and they are keen to provide a fresh, new face around the town.
In just a few days they used their contacts to sort out the lease of premises in Warren Yard, Warren Park, from Secklow Properties and had a base of 200 clients deciding to keep their business with the new firm, including Milton Keynes Parks Trust.
The partners of Louch Shacklock were taken aback by the positive reaction of clients and suppliers to the news of Douglas Duff’s untimely demise and how everyone rallied round to help.
Even other commercial property agents helped, by giving the new company’s phone number to Douglas Duff clients. It’s been such a humbling experience that they don’t refer to other property companies as ‘competitors’ but as ‘joint agents’.
It isn’t dimming the team’s enthusiasm to compete for business, though.
The team, which handles lettings for key locations around Milton Keynes including Phoenix House, Elder House and Altius House in central Milton Keynes, is preparing to get its new logo and name up in lights.
They are also researching innovations in digital marketing and ways of highlighting and promoting commercial property.
And it’s clear that the team feel the experience of standing in the rubble of Douglas Duff and wondering where to go next has had a deep personal effect.
Mr Whittle said: “Problems always come along in life and in business, it’s not the nature of the problems that’s important, it’s how you deal with them that matters.”
And partner Tina Attwood added: “You can’t predict how people behave but I think you can respond positively to other people’s actions.
“Now a negative situation has been turned into an opportunity. It isn’t one which I would have chosen but it is now one which I relish.”
> Contact Louch Shacklock on www.louchshacklock.com or 01908 224760.