Newsmaker: The man who merges - Cedric Frederick Chief executive, Adepta

Anita Pati

- Proud of running his social care charity like a business.

Cedric Frederick believes in the power of names. He refers not just to his own, which "makes people do a double take", but also to his charity's new title, Adepta. The rebranded identity replaces the old name, PentaHact, from today.

"We tested about 50 different names, both internally and externally," he says. "Adepta resonated with the majority. We'd struggled for years with the big H in the middle of the old name."

Frederick hopes Adepta, a play on the words adept and adapt, will capture the organisation's malleability. The changes it has undergone in the past six years alone have been remarkable by any standards. In 2000, it was known as Penta and had a staff of 90 and an annual turnover of £2m; today, Adepta has 900 staff and a £21m turnover.

Adepta provides care to people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health problems across south-east England. As a contract service provider, its growth has come both through winning competitive tenders and by means of mergers - it has been involved in mergers three times under Frederick's stewardship, earning him a reputation, at least in the social care sector, for being the man who merges.

He is proud of this reputation. He attributes the organisation's success to risk-taking in an era when mergers were unfashionable. "We had to be willing to take risks, go for new business and have the drive to go for it," he says. "Every merger is hard work. When I first took over Penta in 1996, we were six months away from going bust. Working with exceptional people has taken us from a situation where we were on our knees to one where we are robust and respected."

Frederick's vision stretches beyond his own charity - he has plenty of ideas for the wider sector too. One of his concerns, for example, is recruitment and retention among low-paid voluntary sector carers. His solution is simple: give the jobs key worker status so those doing them can get more affordable housing. He is working with sector colleagues such as Turning Point's Victor Adebowale and Mencap's Jo Williams to lobby the Government on the issue.

Frederick is unashamed of running Adepta like a business and believes that social enterprise and public service delivery contracts are the future for social care charities. "Organisations like ours struggle with the same things as businesses do - cash flow and balance sheets," he says. "We have a charitable purpose and are not-for-profit, but we are also not-for-loss."

The words motivation and vision crop up frequently in conversation with Frederick. A glance around his office reveals eclectic sources of inspiration - a bust of Buddha rests below a poster of Martin Luther King, and on another wall hangs a Rothko print.

The 6ft 6in former England basketball player says his professional sporting years in the 1980s prepared him for leadership. "What you learn in the sporting arena you carry into how you manage," he says. "You learn to compete and set yourself goals."

His parents, who migrated to England from Grenada in the 1950s, instilled in him the need to work harder than his white British neighbours. "When I was 13, my father told me that being as good as the next person was not good enough," he says.

Frederick is keen for his employees to find their own inspiration. Soon staff will have motivational statements flashing up as screen savers on their computers.

But for all the talk of business and management, Frederick's values are rooted in the voluntary sector. "I've never been tempted to work for private companies," he says. "There's something unique about our sector that's uplifting - it keeps people wanting to contribute."

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