David Kinnaird Departs Avanta to Lead essensys’ U.S. Expansion

Following rapid growth in the U.K., IT company essensys has announced its expansion into the U.S. and appointed David Kinnaird – the former Operations Director of Avanta – as its new U.S. Managing Director. OT caught up with David to learn what he’s got in store for essensys and how his business centre experience is shaping his approach to his new role.

David KinnairdWith impressive growth in the UK and an expanding trophy cabinet, it was only a matter of time before London-based essensys – a leading supplier of IT and automation solutions to the business centre industry – stepped across the pond.

CEO of essensys, Mark Furness, says they have already “met with huge opportunity” in the North American market. So who better to lead the company’s U.S. mission than a former customer?

“I’ve known Mark for a long time,” says David Kinnaird, newly appointed MD of essensys in North America. David is a well-known figure in the UK business centre industry, having started his flexible workspace career in 2001 with MWB Business Exchange and later as Operations Director for Avanta in 2006.

“I’d started speaking to essensys back in 2008 as a potential supplier to Avanta. They were a small business then, but they clearly understood what Avanta needed and worked hard to deliver this.” Avanta finally contracted with essensys in 2012, eventually rolling out the system across their entire portfolio.

“Avanta had 16-17 buildings at the time so it was essensys’ first big contract. We both learned a lot in those first few years.”

Today, Avanta has close to 30 locations to its name. But the company’s acquisition by Regus earlier this year left David in a tricky situation. “I didn’t want to work for such a big company, so as soon as Regus acquired Avanta I started to look around. During the CMA’s investigation I was stuck in a holding pattern and I couldn’t leave until it drew to a close.”

“I didn’t hesitate”

Even so, David took time to evaluate his options with Regus. “Up close, it’s an impressive organisation – the sheer scale is breathtaking, and I liked the talented and genuine people in the UK team. I also had conversations with some other well-respected operators.

“It was then I had a conversation with Mark. As I’d been one of their biggest customers for a long time, he recognised our similar approach. Relationships with suppliers are sometimes difficult, but with essensys this has always been outstanding. That’s because their honest, straightforward ethos allied to technology to make life easier just works so well.”

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“Joining essensys was one of those opportunities that you need to seize with both hands. I didn’t hesitate.”

David is applying his expertise of the business centre sector and his experience as an essensys client to his new role, which spans a broad range of responsibilities including customer experience, new projects, fit-out, facilities management and “everything in-between”.

“There are always things you can learn in different markets, but it’s definitely the experience of the sector that I can use here. It’s what essensys does for its customers and how it supports people in business centres – that’s the important thing.”

However it’s not just business centres that David will be working with. essensys is now catering to a broader range of flexible workspace operators, which – given the increasing popularity of flexible agreements – could include conventional landlords too.

“We’re going to do more beyond the narrow conventional serviced office space and we can deliver to all types of flexible workspace operator. We see the end user of our service as ‘Members’ and we will provide much more through the JEFF interface to deliver services, interaction and information that they need to work effectively in shared space.”

A fresh start

Although it’s an exciting opportunity for David, giving up a company he helped build and moving his family thousands of miles away is a big decision. So what else contributed to his decision?

“Change,” he said simply. “Change is incredibly refreshing. Changing environment and what you do gives you a boost of energy and the ability to start again.

“I loved Avanta, I’d been there a long time, and I loved who I worked with – it was like a family. Had it not been for the acquisition by Regus, I probably wouldn’t have left. But it has happened – and I see it now as a great launch point to pick up whole new challenge in a brand new territory.”

As for life in the U.S., David is already settling in to his new role and enjoying life Stateside.

“It’s a huge, huge marketplace. The opportunities here for essensys are incredible. If you’ve done so well in the UK and built something that’s so unique, and so helpful to the sector, I know that expanding into the U.S. is the right thing to do. We’re already talking to people out on the West Coast now.

“Ultimately I’m just delighted to be working with a business that’s got such clear vision and unity of purpose, and a service that’s so successful. What we’re doing will sell itself just like it has done in the UK.

“I want us to be the trusted partner for the sector in the US, not just another supplier. I know that my perspective as an operator will help to make this happen.”