In 2015, Jordan Fraser and his business partner Trevor Bevan purchased a Charlottetown based company, United Janitorial, through Confederation M&A. Prior to this, Jordan founded a tech company called BamText and Trevor was involved with the family business.
Jordan and Trevor have since purchased Atlantic Mat Exchange and Drakes Clean Up Systems, both businesses complement United Janitorial very nicely. These businesses have grown from a combined staff of about 25 at acquisition to over 80 staff today. Most recently, Jordan and Trevor along with their business partner, Chris Welton, purchased MacArthur’s Appliances and Mattress Gallery in Charlottetown. Confederation M&A had the opportunity to represent Jordan, Trevor and Chris for the purchase with several of these businesses.
Confederation M&A partner, Trisha Mossey sat down with Jordan to discuss their decision to purchase existing businesses and why they feel hiring an M&A Advisor is really key to getting a deal done.
Trisha: You’ve grown an impressive business portfolio over the last five-six years. Could you tell us a little bit about your businesses?
Jordan: We are the owners of United Janitorial, Atlantic Mat Exchange, Drakes Clean Up Systems and MacArthur’s Appliances and Mattress Gallery. All of our companies are based out of Prince Edward Island, but these companies do service parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
Trisha: You and Trevor were both involved in other businesses and then decided to explore purchasing an existing business. You approached Confederation M&A and ultimately ended up being the successful purchasers of United Janitorial in 2015 – can you shed some light on your decision to explore purchasing an existing business?
Jordan: It’s damn hard to start a new business – that’s what it really comes down to.
In 2013, I was involved in a start-up called BamText as a first-time entrepreneur. At the time, I had little reputation in the business community and I quickly realized that it is very difficult to start a business from scratch. Although BamText flourished into a great company, Trevor and I really wanted to grow our business portfolios. We felt that we could grow our business portfolio faster by purchasing existing companies. We noticed that a lot of local business owners were approaching retirement age. This sparked our interest in meeting with Wayne Carew of Confederation M&A in 2013.
Trisha: Can you tell us about your first experiences with Confederation M&A and your first purchase – United Janitorial?
Jordan: Our experience was excellent. We were ‘young’ buyers, in our late 20s. When we first met with Wayne in 2013, despite us being young, he gave us time to explain what we were looking for and treated us as very serious buyers. Prior to United Janitorial, we had actually offered on another business which did not pan out. From that experience, we were familiar with the process that we would have to go through to purchase a business. We kept in touch with Wayne and we were presented with the opportunity to purchase United Janitorial. The transition of the company went almost seamless, everything was as we expected and planned for. I really don’t believe any of the deals would have come together without working with an M&A Advisor. Confederation M&A taught us the process and how to professionally make an offer on a business. This guidance was really beneficial to us.
Trisha: Most people are likely not aware that after you purchased United Janitorial, you engaged Confederation M&A on a buy-side arrangement to purchase multiple businesses. Why did you decide to engage Confederation M&A from a buy-side? What are the advantages to having buy-side representation versus a DIY process?
Jordan: That’s right, we have engaged Confederation M&A on a buy-side arrangement to purchase Drakes Clean Up Systems and MacArthur’s Appliances and Mattress Gallery. The DIY process was very awkward for us. We tried this in 2013, prior to reaching out to Wayne. Trevor and I asked a business owner to meet with us and we told him we wanted to buy his business. I don’t think this business owner took us seriously and the whole process was flawed. We had no formal offer, no formal process and no business valuation. It can also be difficult for owners to share details with strangers. We parted ways with the business owner on good terms but the DIY experience was not good for us. In our minds, Confederation M&A is looked at as a local leader in mergers and acquisitions. Rather than two guys approaching a business owner to say they want to buy his/her business we wanted professional representation. The same way that if you go to court, you get a lawyer. If you have issues with CRA, you call your accountant. We wanted a professional M&A Advisor to help us. I really do believe our deals would not have come together if it wasn’t for an M&A Advisor, like you, in the middle of the buyer and seller. You act as a sounding board for both sides where you can take the emotions out of both sides and find solutions to get a deal done.
Trisha: You have had success in keeping the exiting owner as part of your team going forward. How has that impacted transitions and how have your managed those relationships in a transition?
Jordan: We have had lots of success working with the exiting business owners. What’s really important is to understand that in the majority of situations, this process is a really big deal for the exiting owner. To hand over the business they’ve created and grown for 30+ years to someone else is often very emotional. I haven’t been on that side, so I don’t even have a full grasp on it. Trevor and I have chosen to include the exiting owners in our conversations about the future. We value their input and we don’t want to surprise them with any potential changes - communication is key.
Trisha: In August 2021, there was an article in AllAtlantic on your businesses about a potential expansion into Halifax in the near future – can you elaborate on any of these potential plans?
Jordan: It has been something that we have been eyeing up for a couple years now. We want to continue our growth. It’s a market that is very close and much larger than Charlottetown/PEI. We want to take some of the great things we have done on PEI and mirror that in Halifax and Moncton.
Trisha: It’s been about five months since your purchase of MacArthur’s Appliances and Mattress Gallery – how has the transition been thus far?
Jordan: It’s been great. We are very happy with how things are going. The entire team at MacArthur’s have been very supportive of us. MacArthur’s Appliances had a great team and we are happy we were able to keep these employees and add a few more. Carman (the prior owner) is wrapping up his transition with us in the next month or so – he has been very supportive of us.
Trisha: After successfully going through the process, what advice would you have for anyone considering a buy-side engagement?
Jordan: I would say it’s a really good move. It’s difficult to represent yourself without having an M&A Advisor as a ‘filter’ in between the buyers and the sellers. Both parties will need their representation on either side and a sounding board in the centre, without it, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Trisha: Any final thoughts?
Jordan: We very much enjoy working with you and the whole team. Hopefully, we will have many more opportunities to work together in the future – we have always had a great experience.