Most established business owners will be faced with challenges around succession planning – when and how to transition a business is often a difficult decision. Luckily for the owners of GlassMasters, a Calgary-based auto glass repair company, their plan to sell a portion of the company as a part of their eventual exit strategy aligned perfectly with a partnership with private equity group, The Western Investment Company of Canada Ltd (“Western”).
Thanks to a singular focus on auto glass and top-notch customer service, GlassMasters has emerged as one of Alberta’s top providers of windshields and windshield repair services. Knowing there was still room to expand the successful business, GlassMasters’ owners wanted to retain some ownership of the business and continue to run the day-to-day operations for the foreseeable future. This strategy was an ideal fit for Western, and in November 2016 it acquired 50.1% ownership of GlassMasters, with the remaining shares split between the existing owner and management and ATB Capital.
“We’re very excited to partner with GlassMasters as our first equity investment. They have built a successful company, and like many business owners, wanted to find partners to support a long-term succession plan,” says Rick Moore, CFO, Western. He explains that its role will be mainly financial and strategic. “GlassMasters has a great business model that can easily be scaled to new locations and regions, and we will be helping to achieve this type of expansion.”
Western strongly believes in their long-term, relationship-based investment approach. “We’re not the typical private equity firm in that way – we want to create lasting relationships beyond three to seven years. Owners that have spent time and energy building great businesses don’t want to just sell it to anyone, they want to know the business will be nurtured – including its staff and clients,” shares Rick. “In many cases, owners also want to continue their involvement in the business until they decide to retire or move on to new ventures.” Currently, there is a lack of equity investors willing to take this approach, and Western believes it can fill that gap for companies like GlassMasters.
First West Capital shares this same partner-oriented philosophy, so when Western was contemplating subordinated debt financing to complete the acquisition, they decided to work with First West Capital’s Regional Director, Southern Alberta, Adil Lalani. “We were introduced to Adil though our strategic advisor who recommended we connect with First West Capital, who have a reputation for responsive and collaborative financial solutions,” Rick says. “We identified with First West Capital’s process, and liked that Adil is a regional provider who understands the Alberta market.”
Rick continues, “The deal was very time sensitive, and Adil was amenable to our needs. I was impressed with his ability to work seamlessly with our other stakeholders – I doubt the process would have gone so smoothly with anyone else.”
“The deal was very time sensitive, and Adil was amenable to our needs. I was impressed with his ability to work seamlessly with our other stakeholders – I doubt the process would have gone so smoothly with anyone else.”
“Rick and his team at Western share key values with First West Capital, particularly around cultivating long-term partnerships. They have acquired a strong, established business with significant growth potential and we are excited to have been chosen as a key financial partner in this transaction,” says Adil.
With a successful acquisition completed, GlassMasters looks forward to expansion plans that include the opening of new locations in Alberta and beyond. Western anticipates acquiring more businesses like GlassMasters, and helping owners with succession planning and growth, “We had a great experience completing this transaction with First West Capital and look forward to working with Adil again as we grow our portfolio.”