A leading Ottawa-based outdoor property maintenance company is joining forces with a Calgary landscaping and construction firm in a bid to stretch its operations from coast to coast.
The P. Munro Group – which offers services such as snowplowing, paving and heavy equipment rentals and has a sister company, John Sweeping, that provides street sweeping and water truck service – said this week it has merged with Alberta-based Urban Life Solutions.
Toronto’s Signal Hill Equity Partners was the lead investor in the transaction and will take a controlling interest in the combined company. Financial terms were not disclosed.
ULS chief executive Steve Wheatcroft will become CEO of the combined firm and continue to work out of the company’s Calgary office, which will become its western headquarters. Munro Group founder Paul Munro and partner Kirby Shantz will oversee the firm’s eastern Canadian operations from the Ottawa office on Belgreen Drive.
With a combined 600-plus employees and clients in more than 80 locations in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec, the new entity – which will be branded as Urban Life Solutions – is already one of the country’s largest outdoor maintenance companies.
But Munro, who founded his company in 1998 and acquired John Sweeping six years ago, says he and his new partners have much loftier goals.
“The whole idea behind this is to create Canada’s elite outdoor service provider,” he told OBJ on Tuesday. “We’re all very focused. It’s kind of exciting to be on the ground floor to build a company that’s going to go right across Canada.”
Now at about 180 employees, the Munro Group and John Sweeping serve a diverse range of government and private-sector clients that includes SNC Lavalin and Public Works and Procurement Canada. The firm’s reach currently extends as far north as Sudbury, and the company also provides services across the river in Gatineau.
“We’re one of those companies that, if you’re in property management, you know of us,” Munro said, adding the firm has posted annual revenue growth of at least 10-15 per cent over the past few years.
Munro said his No. 1 priority is to keep expanding the company’s footprint in Canada’s two most populous provinces. Asked if he sees further expansion into other provinces as a possibility down the road, he replied, “Everything is on the table. We want to strategically grow.”
Munro said Signal Hill executives originally approached him nearly a year ago about a potential merger with ULS. He initially dismissed the Toronto firm’s overtures.
“We’re a very strong company, so I wasn’t even interested,” he explained. “But once I got to meet the ULS crew, that’s what kind of motivated me to sit down and talk to them and try and get this deal done.”
“We do a lot of things the same way and we have a lot of challenges that are exactly the same. You could see the passion on their side as well as on our side that we wanted to do more than just service our local clients. We want to take this across Canada.”