American-born chief executive Henry Engelhardt, who set up his business with chief operating officer David Stevens, talks about the success of the business Admiral Insurance and of being headquartered in Cardiff.
Henry you have lived and worked in the US, France, as well as London. So how would you rate Cardiff?
Cardiff is a good place to work. It doesn’t have the pace of London or Chicago, but that’s part of what makes it special.
For a medium-sized city, there’s a lot going on yet it has the good things that come with living in a small town, like being able to get from place to place. I tell people from London and Chicago that a traffic jam in Cardiff means an extra light, not the whole of the weekend.
You chose the city centre for Admiral’s new 200,000 sq ft headquarters building in Cardiff – why is it so important to be located in the heart of the capital?
Staff like working in the city centre. They have access to all the shops, restaurants and amenities during their lunch break or after work. In addition, you get the best of all the transport links: buses, trains, bikes, car or walking… so we get lots of people who can come and work for us.
Admiral’s Cardiff workforce is drawn from across the Cardiff city-region. How good are they and the region’s wider workforce?
We’re very pleased with the quality of our staff. There’s a good sense of customer service and people are naturally friendly and helpful. Our customers across the UK respond well when they realise they are talking with someone in Wales.
What advice would you give to a company relocating to Cardiff from overseas or the south-east of England?
You risk losing your executives to Wales. They call this the ‘graveyard of executives’ for a reason. Once people get used to the lifestyle here they don’t really want to move anywhere else.
If you were looking to impress a first time visitor to Cardiff where would you take them?
A Six Nations’ rugby match. The atmosphere is fantastic and the location of the Millennium Stadium right in the middle of the city is unique. It’s also great for us to see the Admiral logo on the Welsh players’ jerseys!
From a start-up in Cardiff 20 years ago to a FTSE 100 business with a global workforce of nearly 7,000 with 5,000 in South Wales. That’s pretty spectacular. Is there any reason why another start-up today in Cardiff couldn’t achieve the same level of success?
There’s no fundamental reason why global businesses cannot be created in Cardiff. However, that doesn’t mean the area isn’t without its challenges to create an environment that makes it more likely for global businesses to be created here and that includes things like air and ground transport links and executive housing.