Working with Ashton Wheelans gave us the confidence to take calculated risks in a very uncertain environment
In 2010 one of KPI Rothschild’s buildings made the New York Times – an enduring image of the Christchurch earthquakes.
For the three director/shareholders and 22 buildings – 14 of them red-stickered - the catastrophe was an opportunity to fundamentally rethink and re-engineer their business model. The final insurance payment was received in 2012, allowing the company to buy buildings as replacements, take cash and to fund new builds.
“We had an extremely complicated structure; multiple companies and multiple buildings,” Shaun says. “We were all in our 50s and all wanted more flexibility and independence while still having a shared business as the core. We wanted both the strength of the group and to be stronger and more flexible individually.”
Up stepped Ashton Wheelans’ director Andrew Oorschot and his team to guide them through the process.
“Andrew’s one for the whiteboard, and he worked with us to map out the possibilities - how it could work - and he didn't give up until we had a strategy. He’s been available to us at the drop of a hat since then to help navigate and implement the restructuring – it’s like he’s got a direct stake in our business.”
From an 80/20 ratio of jointly held versus individually held assets, the ratio is now reversed, with an overall portfolio of around 200 tenants.
“We now have the best of both worlds – with the strength of the ‘three musketeers’ being able to work collectively as well as individually and this is bringing creativity back to the core business,” Shaun says.
“This was a major restructure for us and we’re delighted with the way it’s gone. Too often these sorts of things end up with parties not talking to each other, and everyone worse off. Andrew was worth his weight in gold and helped us work our way through the necessary compromises in a professional and seamless manner and, more importantly we’re all still good friends after nearly 20 years in business together.”
Shaun and his partners pioneered the return to the inner city, including redeveloping the well-known entertainment hub, Stranges Lane, in the CBD red zone.
“When I think about it now I sometimes ask myself what the hell we were doing going back in so early. Working with Ashton Wheelans gave us the confidence to take calculated risks in a very uncertain environment, and we’re eternally grateful for that.”