By Mike Williscraft
After 40 years of building not only modular units but their family run company, the McNeils have sold the the Canadian portion of their business.
The new owner of NRB Canada Inc. is Calgary based Horizon North Logistics Inc. The purchase price was $16.5 million.
The sale comes as the company, located on the South Service Road just west of Christie Street in Grimsby, prepared to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
The company was started by Bob and Jean McNeil and, in recent years, has been run by their sons Bob Jr. and Craig.
While the company has had a host of suitors over the years, the McNeils never entered any discussions with the intention of selling.
In this case, everything worked out on a philosophical level, giving them confidence a sale would be a positive move forward for the NRB.
“They wanted a presence in Ontario, a beach head, as they called it,” said Craig.
“We have had companies call looking to buy us every week for years but we never wanted to sell just because of numbers,” added Bob Jr..
“We have a lot of common interests with Horizon. This will be more like a merger. Growth of the company will accelerate with the new owners. We’re complementary. Everything we do, they don’t and everything they do, we don’t.”
The sale of the Grimsby location will not affect NRB’s operation based in New Holland, Pa.
The strength of North
Horizon’s game is their development of varied markets – hotels, multi-family, and seniors’
residences, said Bob Jr..
“They will help get NRB into those markets,” he added.
For Horizon North’s president Rod Graham, the acquisition of NRB will allow his company to grow as well.
“The integration of these two companies means the unification of products and expertise that lead the way in Canada’s modular construction industry,” said Graham, in a press release, adding the diverse labour pool in the area and the proximity to major transportation routes are key components of their plans.
For the Grimsby location’s 140 employees, that is good news said Bob Jr..
“This will bring added opportunities for the employees,” said Bob, adding he believes Grimsby will be the Ontario base of operations.
“They may look to create a satellite plant somewhere within a 45 minute drive, but everything will be run from here. This company won’t be moving from Grimsby for the foreseeable future.”
And it is that harmonized thinking which convinced the McNeils a sale to Horizon was the right move.
“Horizon North’s expertise in wood-frame modular structures will expand to eastern Canada, providing solutions for affordable social, student, senior and First Nations housing, in addition to hotels, commercial space and single and multi-family homes,” said Joseph Kiss, president of Horizon North’s Modular Solutions business
“At the same time, NRB Canada’s expertise in steel-frame non-combustible modular structures will be available to projects in western Canada, including facilities for health care, recreation, and education purposes, as well as retail, hospitality and utilities structures.”
While 2019 will mark 40 years for NRB, it will also mark the end of the ride for the McNeils.
“We left a good legacy. You don’t really realize it when you’re doing it, but we have been a strong supporter of the community, we always erred on the side of the customer and we tried hard to meet all our commitments,” said Bob Jr..
“NRB has a name in the industry second to none, which is pretty cool. This company has surpassed even the wildest expectation that started with our parents.”
The sale took effect April 1, 2019.