As we close the book on 2020 it goes without saying that it’s been a year like no other, but we’re not going to spend too much time looking back.

That’s not really who we are: we’re much more interested in moving forward at pace. Because of that, this year has been just like every other in lots of ways: we’ve stayed ambitious, we’ve remained optimistic, and we’ve focused on our goals. That’s simply due to the culture we’ve built at United Capital, so those things never go away. What 2020 has done, is proved to us that we were already on the right track, and that sticking to our plan works for us, no matter what might threaten to throw us off course.

Bringing our growth plans forward to meet the moment

In January 2020, I shared our vision for the upcoming year, in which I explained that United Capital was aiming to acquire companies that would lead to a group revenue of £300 million over the coming 3 years. At the time this seemed reasonable to us: stretching and exciting, but feasible.

Despite setting ambitious targets, the lock-down months would prove we hadn’t been ambitious enough. When the world changed back in March, the floodgates suddenly opened. Business owners were contacting us daily to see if selling to us might offer them a way out of the almost-impossible conditions they found themselves operating in.

Cut to October, we realised we were looking at potential acquisitions worth a combined £13 billion. Now that’s an incredible figure, and we’re not going to do all those deals for a variety of reasons; however, the sheer potential in our pipeline again made us bring our ambitious plans forward. By October we had upped our 3-5 year target to £500 million.

We always knew we’d work towards £500 million in group revenue, but the changing circumstances made it possible to get there faster – and we will.

There’s no lack of confidence at United Capital

In May, during lockdown, we sealed the deal to bring Saltire Facilities Management into the group; it’s a great company full of people focused on getting things right for their customers. Expanding the group at such a low point for the building services industry was a brilliant boost to all involved, and in retrospect, the space and time that we gained during lockdown meant we could get the deal over the line with absolute focus.

We had other successes too; McGill won a number of contracts in the lockdown months. This meant we could plan out multiple projects and jobs for the post-lockdown period, and prepare for that upswing by updating IT systems and back office processes while we had capacity; crucially, our healthy pipeline of work meant we could assure our workers that their jobs were safe.

We managed these things because we stayed focused on winning contracts and growing the United Capital group. We didn’t give in to the lack of confidence affecting the industry; we continued to tender for projects and frameworks which demonstrated we’re around for the long haul; we kept expanding the group because that’s the best way to bring stability and strength to an industry which was fragmented long before Coronavirus came along.

The right people give us the power of flexibility

We’re of the firm belief that we don’t need lots of people – instead, we need the right people, who are highly effective, expert in their role, and ready to join our hard work culture. Staying lean means we can be agile and pivot should a new opportunity present itself, and that light structure is exactly why we’ve been so rapidly successful.  We’re determinedly ambitious and have no time to waste: our decisions are made quickly, and turned into action immediately by our expert team.

For us, 2020 was a year of growth despite difficulty and finding opportunities where there seemed to be few. It’s been rewarding to see our strategy play out under the most difficult conditions, and know for sure that we had got it right all along. Expanding our goals to meet the moment, staying confident during difficult times, and leading an agile but expert team have been the standout factors for United Capital’s success in 2020. We’re already moving ahead with our plans for early 2021, and our pipeline is incredibly healthy. Keep an eye on United Capital in 2021 – we’re going to have plenty of good news to share.