From making the tea to owning the company: how the owner of Coversure has led it to 40 years of success
When Stuart Wilson applied for an apprenticeship at Colne’s Coversure back in 1988, never could he imagine he’d one day own the insurance company.
But that’s exactly what happened at the age of 24, after joining the business as a teenager and being tasked with making the tea, among other junior jobs.
Stuart was at school when he told his careers advisor he wanted to work in an office as he didn’t think he had the skills for a hand’s on role like engineering. He was interviewed for an apprenticeship and was offered the job at the then Pendle Assurance Services on the same day.
“I was still at school when they offered me the job. I worked four days in the office and then spent a day at Nelson and Colne College doing business studies. The original founders and owners Roy and James were good to me and clearly saw something in me. By 18 they had told me I could buy the business from then when the time came for them to retire,” Stuart said.
And that’s exactly what happened a few years later in 1996 when Stuart was 24. They agreed he could pay them every month, as the banks wouldn’t lend such a large amount to Stuart when he was still so young. The rest is history.
“Roy has sadly passed away, but James lives in Barnoldswick and is now 80. I still thank him when I see him for giving me the opportunity,” he added.
A staple of Colne’s high street
Pendle Assurance Services re-branded as Coversure in 2004 to allow the business to have the buying power of a bigger brand, keeping prices low for their customers.
Over the years it has been located on Linden Road and at Norway House, before moving to Market Street in 1990, where it remains today.
The arrival of the internet and huge call centre operators meant some people looking for policies such as home and car insurance moved online. However, Coversure still has a loyal customer base, particularly from the older generations who want to speak face to face to the same person every time.
“Being on the high street sets us apart. It would be easy for me to move everything online and over the phone, but people value the fact we’re a team of three [Jamie and Steve are account managers] and that you can pop in. Our biggest clients are actually businesses now. Business insurance is complex and owners like that consistency of speaking through the intricacies with the same person,” Stuart explained.
Coversure has many local businesses as clients, including Multicare Mobility, MJ Ellis & Sons Garage, Style Cafe, BG Sports and Empress Mills.
The high street location has other benefits – mainly being next to Tiger Thai and opposite Super Sub!
“Oh we’re always in there getting food! I love that I can nip out and do errands, or pop to the dentist. It’s a great business community here, Wild’s and About Coffee are also favourites of mine, I like eating at Carlo’s too and I’m always across the road at Intelligent Communications getting my tech sorted. Naveed is doing well since moving from the market, it’s always busy,” Stuart said.
With the 40-year milestone around the corner on 1st April, Coversure is certainly here to stay. It’s longest business customer has been with the firm since 1985, whilst the team are proud that they partner with everyone from sole tradesmen to multi-million pound companies.
“It’s great watching clients grow into huge businesses; it’s that local knowledge, relationships and being accessible in person that sets us apart from our competitors. We almost certainly will answer your call within four rings and there are no hoops to jump through to speak to a real person,” Stuart concluded.
Congratulations to Coversure and long may it continue to be a Colne high street staple.