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Momentous merger

Dec 08, 2016
On Friday, 14 October 2016, Abels Moving Services, Gerson Relocation and Momentous Relocation merged under common ownership led by Paul Evans. Phil Pertoldi remains with the new company as chairman of Abels Moving Services. Steve Jordan spoke to Paul to find out more.

The fact that Paul Evans keeps on surprising the industry should come as no surprise to anyone. Indeed he estimates that he has bought and sold around twenty five companies in as many years including, famously, Trans Euro (which he founded, as a truck driver, with Richard Levine) and Interdean, so the unexpected should really be the expected where he is concerned. Yet, when the announcement came out, on the eve of IAM in New Orleans, there was little talk of anything else in the bar of the Hyatt hotel that evening. Spot-on timing!

Paul admits to have been on the lookout for acquisitions to help grow his company. Gerson Relocation and Abels Moving Services came along at the right time. “Momentous was growing well anyway, but was still very small,” Paul explained. “We’d grown from £1.6m [turnover] to £4.5m in a little over two years.” But for Paul, who has never suffered from patience where business is concerned, this wasn’t quick enough. “With these two acquisitions we should hopefully reach around number ten in the UK league table of top moving companies.” It seems for him, market leadership is more of a habit that an ambition.

So why Gerson and Abels? Well, they came as a pair as Abels owned Gerson. Also the companies both have independently scrupulous images and exceptionally strong market presence.

In 1988 Abels became the first removal company to be awarded the Royal Warrant - ‘By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen’ - that has been renewed again this year. It is a largely family-run business; a highly acclaimed specialist in residential and international moving services; is a leader in commercial moving and new furniture distribution; and has a reputation for delivering exemplary service.

Gerson Relocation was the first moving company in the UK to receive ‘The Queen’s Award for Export Achievement’; moved Margaret Thatcher both into and out of No 10 Downing Street; has a global reputation for high-quality moving and relocation services; and has contributed greatly, over many years, to both lead and support the success and professionalism of the industry as a whole.

“We are very excited about the future of the new group, given the enormous strengths and reputation of the three brands and the combined experience,” said Paul. “We are delighted that Phil Pertoldi will remain with the Group and I know he is excited about working with us to maintain the quality-driven ethos of all three companies, while making sure we adapt and grow to meet the changing expectations and needs of all our clients.”

There are clear synergies for the three brands working together. “We will be able to work more efficiently, bring in best practice for all three companies and take advantage of all the opportunities our new structure offers,” said Paul. “We will also be working to optimise our IT systems.” There will be operational benefits too, not least because all three companies are members of Harmony, of which Phil Pertoldi is the chairman.

“When the family were considering the next strategic development for its brands, of which we felt we were custodians not owners, I recalled a recent conversation I’d had with Paul whom I’ve known since the 1970s, about the possibility of working together sometime in the future,” said Phil. “Now we are!”

Michael Gerson, ex-chairman of Gerson Relocation, and past president of both BAR and FIDI, was clearly delighted to hear of the merger. "Congratulations, it’s really exciting news to hear and fantastic for the industry,” he said. “I wish the company every success."

History suggests that the marriage between these three iconic brands will be a success. So, what’s next? Of course Paul isn’t saying but those who know him well won’t be expecting this to be the end of the story. On the contrary, they will be expecting the unexpected. They are unlikely to be disappointed.

Photo: (Left to right) Phil Pertoldi and Paul Evans.

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