When Newton Property Management was launched in 2001, it promised a fresh approach to factoring, with full transparency for customers and a culture of nurturing its staff.

Now, 21 years later, the company that was founded by Stephen O’Neill is no longer the new kid on the block, but it has retained its straightforward approach and its innovative spirit along with its philosophy of supporting its people.

Today, as well as its base in Glasgow, Newton Property Management has offices in Inverness and Aberdeen and it employs 50 staff who between them provide factoring services to 29,000 properties across Scotland.

Stephen O’Neill, now chairman, believes that investing in staff has been the key to Newton’s continued strong performance and as well as offering many benefits that help to make office life enjoyable, the company also provides an employee loan scheme and an annual profit sharing bonus.

“We also continually re-invest profits, which allows us to provide flexible solutions to customers” he says.

“In one instance, when some occupiers were unable to meet the cost of roofing repairs, we could provide them with interest-free loans and as part of our Green Vision, we have installed electric vehicle charging points at some of the properties we look after without looking to recoup the cost.

“We have felt very strongly from the outset that it was not enough for the company to do well financially, it also had to be an enjoyable place to work and to do some good in the community as well.”

Kirsten O’Neill, Stephen’s daughter, is People Director, part of a team of young directors who are now taking the company forward, and she says Newton’s reputation has played an important role in staff recruitment during an extended period during which the whole sector has experienced skills shortages.

“It often happens by word of mouth, where people in the business will ask a member of our staff what it is like to work here, and that is one of the most positive ways of recruiting new talent.

“And retention is also important to us, which is why our regular team updates, where we make the company’s performance very clear, are vital, especially during times of uncertainty when people may be worried about their own position. We can reassure them, just as we did during the Pandemic.

“Keeping staff happy and healthy during the last couple of years has been a major concern because they do what can at times be a very difficult job, so it is important that they feel comfortable and supported while they do that.”

The upheavals caused by Covid are now being compounded by the cost of living crisis and Kirsten O’Neill says Newton understands the squeeze on income being experienced by occupiers of some of the priorities that the company manages.

“For quite some time now we have been helping to bring down costs by replacing lighting in common areas with LED bulbs and discussing with tenants when lighting should be switched on and off, or installing motion sensors so that lights are only activated when necessary.

“It is part of our Green Vision initiative, but it also helps to cut costs, especially in a large development where there are large stretches of communal areas.”

However some of these costs could be reduced still further, says Kirsten, if developers actually talked to factors when things were still at the planning stage.

“We are the people who have the relationships with occupiers, so we know what works for them and what doesn’t and what features could have been planned better. And with 29,000 properties on our books, that’s a whole lot of experience and insights that we could be sharing because fixing problems retrospectively is always going to be difficult and to cost more.”

Meanwhile Newton Property Management is continuing to innovate, offering online alternatives to paper billing,  encouraging occupiers to plant trees to help mitigate climate change and setting up Facebook groups to allow residents to communicate easily with one another and with Newton itself.

The fresh approach that led to Newton Property Management being set-up in the first place still underpins the philosophy and activities of this now long-established name in factoring services.