The Scene, Thomas Carroll’s business and lifestyle magazine, caught up with co-founder Evan Thomas to find out if today’s Thomas Carroll lives up to the 1972 vision.
“It all started in the late summer of 1972,” says Evan. “Terry Carroll and I were approached by the Directors of Western Brokers Limited on Churchill Way with an offer to purchase their commercial account, valued then at £7,000.” It was an offer they couldn’t refuse, he continues: “We jumped at the idea of starting out on our own, my father lent us the deposit and Thomas Carroll was born.”
With considerable help from their wives, Delma and Anne, Evan and Terry began looking for Thomas Carroll’s first home and signed a lease for 3 rooms on the second floor at Queens Chambers, Queens Arcade.
“Once we got our first place we were on a roll,” says Evan: “In our first year we’d increased the income to £12,600. We were even able to take a bonus of £1,570 each – that was a small fortune in those days!”
Fortunately for Thomas Carroll many insurers were closing their direct accounts with clients, who had received a discount for acting as their agent. As Evan explains: “We had close ties with many insurance inspectors who offered us this business. We gladly accepted this windfall, and insurers were relieved that their clients would now be looked after by qualified, local brokers.”
The years to follow saw Thomas Carroll grow dramatically with the opening of Piccadilly Square, Caerphilly after the purchase of Morgan Roberts Limited. But sadly in 1977, Terry passed away following an earlier diagnosis of cancer, and Thomas Carroll was shaken to the core. Evan remembers: “Delma and the children had lost the person closest to them, and Anne and I had lost a true friend.”
But thanks to the support from Delma, Anne and the loyal staff, the business battled on. “Terry was greatly missed by everyone in the insurance industry,” Evan says: “I missed his expertise, particularly in the life and pensions field, he was a great salesman.”
Shortly after, Thomas Carroll decided to leave the office in Queens Arcade and concentrate on Caerphilly. But then the need for an office in North Cardiff knocked on our door when Eagle Star gifted them with a major account. So to retain and expand on the local business, they opened an office in Llanishen.
It was now 1982 and technology was beginning to take off, which thankfully had started to filter into the insurance broking field. Thomas Carroll embraced this new era and signed a contract with Misys Software which improved its efficiency overnight – enabling them to expand more quickly.
And it didn’t stop there. Over the next 10 years Thomas Carroll acquired more than 15 small to medium accounts of local brokers wanting to retire, or where circumstances had changed. Evan says: “This showed that our peers trusted us to look after the interests of their clients.”
There have been many great moments in the Thomas Carroll journey. Evan recalls some of the ones that stand out. “In 1983, after a number of ‘supreme’ chicken lunches – as we called them – in the Piccadilly Pub, we persuaded former Chairman John Moore to join us then as a Director. It was the transfer deal of the century!”
Another milestone was purchasing Pendragon House, the Caerphilly headquarters, in 1997. Evan explains: “This was a significant financial commitment and represented our ambitions for the future. We went on to extend the building, first to accommodate the commercial insurance team from Cardiff, and then later on to diversify into a Group with subsidiary companies.”
Thomas Carroll have always been passionate about the local community and have supported Tŷ Hafan’s Children’s Hospice since they opened their doors in 1999. “We fundraised before the bricks were laid”, says Evan: “It’s been a real highlight supporting and watching the wonderful work they do over the years.”
Also, unlike other brokers, Thomas Carroll has remained independent throughout the years. “We created an independent growth strategy and it paid off.”
So was it all worth it? “It’s been a fantastic journey. When we look back, John and I could never have imagined that in 2017 we would be celebrating 45 years of service to the business community in South Wales and beyond” says Evan. “And it’s all thanks to the dedication and expertise of so many members of the now famous, Thomas Carroll team!”
With the business growing from strength to strength, Evan says, “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the business doubled in size in the next 10 years!”