A Welsh firm with a U.S. headquarters in metro Atlanta since 2021 was praised this week for its role in boosting business ties with its home country.
Wales Economy Minister Vaughan Gething visited Moneypenny’s operations in Gwinnett County on a tour aimed at highlighting Welsh ties with the Southeast U.S.
Moneypenny, which provides outsourced call answering, live chat and personalized digital communications services, has its North American headquarters in Duluth, an amenity-packed space designed to mirror its award-winning home base in the northern Welsh city of Wrexham.
With initial capacity for 225 workers, the space was designed to absorb Moneypenny’s local hires as well as teams from companies the private-equity-backed firm acquired in 2020: VoiceNation and Ninja Number.
During the pandemic, clients’ call volumes were up 30 percent and demand for live chat more than doubled, the company said in March 2021, a few months after announcing that it would invest in the new Atlanta office. Now, the company has 250 people working here on a hybrid basis.
While growing in the U.S., Moneypenny has sought to bring a taste of its U.K. community to its adoptive home.
Most recently, team members traveled to Chapel Hill, N.C., to watch the Wrexham AFC soccer club face off against Chelsea FC, the English Premier League club, while both were in the U.S. on different tours.
Wrexham AFC is trying to claw its way back from the doldrums of British football and is the subject of “Welcome to Wrexham,” an FX documentary series showing how Hollywood duo Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney are seeking to revive the team and transform the community. The actors purchased one of the oldest athletic clubs in the world without any prior sports ownership experience.
Understandably, Wrexham fell to Chelsea 5-0 in the North Carolina match, but not before assuaging the homesickness of some Welsh Moneypenny employees who have moved to the Southeast U.S. to help grow the company’s operations here.
Moneypenny itself is now feeling more settled in the U.S., seven years after making the decision to move across the pond.
U.S. operations account for more than a quarter of revenues, a proportion its investors at ECI Partners said would grow as a result of its third and latest acquisition: the August 2022 purchase of Denver-based AlphaPage.
Group CEO Joanna Swash, who has visited metro Atlanta, was invited to the coronation of King Charles III, the former Prince of Wales, in May. She attended the historic event as Moneypenny offices on both sides of the Atlantic held parties to mark the occasion.
After touring the Moneypenny offices this week, Mr. Gething, the Welsh economy minister, said in a statement that the company is a “testament to the strength of our Welsh business community.”
Richard Culberson, the new CEO Moneypenny North America, said the visit honored the ongoing work of the more than 1,200 people the company employs between its American and Welsh offices.
“It was excellent to discuss the shared commitment we have to innovation, collaboration and growth. It serves as a reminder of the rich heritage and global reach of Welsh businesses, as well as the promising opportunities that exist for Welsh companies seeking to expand their presence here in the U.S.,” Mr. Culberson said in a statement.
A broader agenda
Wales operates one of six offices in the United States out of the British Consulate General in Atlanta. It’s run by Erica Stevens, head of the southern U.S. for the Welsh government.
In a LinkedIn post, Ms. Stevens said the economy minister toured Moneypenny after a visit with Airbus’s site development from Mobile, Ala. (The plane manufacturer makes wings at a factory in northern Wales that employs 6,000 people.)
Mr. Gething then joined a luncheon with the Progressive Policy Institute and sat down in Atlanta with British Consul General Rachel Galloway and Deputy Consul General Colin Gray.
He later traveled to Birmingham, Ala., where he signed a friendship agreement and unveiled a plaque commemorating a donation of trees for the occasion. While there, he met with Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and visited a business incubator for local startups.
The minister was keen to promote complementary sectors like TV and film, semiconductors, renewable energy and advanced manufacturing, according to an outline of his objectives published in advance of the trip.
Wales hasn’t been shy about kicking in public funds to jumpstart private-sector growth, an approach reflected in the recent sale of a government-owned film studio to Great Point Studios, which also has a production facility in Atlanta.
Since last year, 14 U.S. companies have invested in Wales, often with promises of government help. That applies to KLA Corp., a semiconductor equipment company based in California putting a $100 million facility in Newport, along with Rocket Science, which is hiring 50 at a new Cardiff studio with support from Creative Wales.
“Our international strategy is offering targeted support to exploit the growth potential of these sectors so that more people can plan ambitious futures in Wales,” Mr. Gething said in a statement.
The U.S. is the largest investor in Wales, with some 320 American companies employing nearly 50,000 people there.
Wales exported $4 billion to the U.S. last year, making it the top destination for Welsh goods.
Traditionally a stronghold for heavy industries like coal mining and steel production, the country of 3.1 million has for many years sought to stem blue-collar job losses even as the U.K. economy tilts increasingly toward knowledge work and services.
This week the U.K. government announced a £500 million grant to fuel a £1.25 billion in automation at the Tata Steel plant in Wales, a move designed to cut emissions drastically.
Mr. Gething issued a statement expressing concern that labor unions nor the Welsh government were consulted, saying that he would fight to minimize impacts to workers.
The minister emphasized that environmental goals should be pursued along with consideration for short-term impacts to workers during the clean-energy transition.
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