Van Ameyde McAusland have wind in their sales as renewables drive growth

Van Ameyde McAuslands has seen huge growth this year – and it is overwhelmingly being powered by renewable energy.

The firm has been working with wind turbine and blade manufacturer, Vestas, since 2016 When Vestas first became a client, Van Ameyde McAusland which is part of the Van Ameyde Group and affiliated with loss adjusters Woodgate & Clark, had a turnover of £1.8 million. That has been boosted by an additional million annually, and McAuslands is now turning over more than £3m per year. Vestas is a major part of that success, providing 30% of the overall turnover.

Betting on wind power makes sense. The UK got 20% of its power from wind in 2019 and this is only set to grow. The UK government recently announced its target of powering every home in the country with offshore wind by 2030. That brought targets up from 30GW to 40GW.

Wind farms in the UK generated a record on December 18, when a blustery day saw them contribute more than 40% of the energy mix.

As of December 2020, the UK has 8,638 onshore turbines and 2,292 offshore turbines, though it is offshore wind which is set to benefit from a £160 million package to boost capacity in the coming years.

Managing the ship transport requirements of wind renewables is now the fastest-growing part of McAusland’s business. The McAuslands team assists clients with onboarding components which are very large; the wind turbine blades are larger than the Eiffel Tower. The team is responsible for risk management to ensure turbines are properly handled and stored. Many shipping companies lack staff who have experience in this highly skilled role.

It is a long way from the beginnings of the business, which was founded in Hull in 1888 to serve the shipping industry as marine surveyors. More than 130 years on, the company still has many of the same clients, continuing to work on behalf of shipowners and third-party insurers.

While once shipowners had clubbed together to insure vessels against damage, liability rules changed 150 years ago, and mutual insurance companies or clubs stepped in to provide third-party insurance for shipowners. McAuslands was appointed on behalf of those clubs to investigate incidents and determine liability.

Today, 75% of McAusland’s business is focused on investigations when something goes wrong, and the rest is risk management.

The Energy Estuary

McAuslands has mainly been working with onshore wind until now, but is expanding into offshore wind. This is the sector where most growth is expected, with The Humber a focus for much of this growth. The Humber, known in the industry as the energy estuary, is one of the areas set to benefit from the government’s cash injection.

“McAuslands is seeking to develop its offshore credentials as a means of growth, as renewables becomes the major part of our business mix,” said McAuslands Managing Director Albert Weatherill.

While McAuslands initially provided UK services for renewables companies, they soon expanded into Ireland, Turkey, Norway, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

“A company that was born in Hull is now going global through our work with Vestas,” Albert said.

Next year will be a busy year, starting with assisting Vestas to build Europe’s biggest onshore windfarm in Scotland as surveyors.

“For the Scotland site we will oversee the safe handling of all the components, and move them to the lay-down area,” Albert explained. “Occasionally, some components need to be moved from one ship onto another ship to get to the site, and we will oversee the transfer.”

Meanwhile, the core investigations business continues to grow. Brexit could well provide a boost to that part of the business, as shipping delays create problems such as for perishable goods, and clients wish to ascertain liability. If there is any damage, the loss adjusters can expect to be busy.

McAuslands, which has always done tariff free business across Europe, is not affected by restrictions due to Brexit, whatever the outcome of the negotiations.

“We are confident about our prospects in 2021 and beyond,” said Albert who added: “We began life in the 19th Century with an interest in the winds that powered sailing ships, and now, in the 21st Century, wind is once again the driving force behind our business growth.

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