Polar Will Grow with Buyout

January 1, 2008

With new financial backing from a U.S. private equity firm, Polar Window of Canada is aiming to grow both inside and outside its bases in Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton.

In a deal that closed just before the end of the year, Cleveland, Ohio-based leveraged buyout firm The Riverside Company acquired Polar for an undisclosed sum. Polar’s strong regional brand, growth potential and management team sparked the acquisition, according to Loren Schlachet, Riverside’s managing partner.

The Polar team will focus on growing organically but may also consider strategic acquisitions, says Bill Medd, president. “We’re striving to become the best-known window and door manufacturer in Canada,” he says.

The 31-year-old company sells vinyl window and doors under the Ray-O-Max brand name. Selling directly to homeowners, it operates five manufacturing facilities in Winnipeg as well as sales and installation facilities in Edmonton and Calgary. Polar has about 180 employees on its roster.

Medd expects the company’s most fertile ground for growth is in Edmonton and Calgary, where the combined volume equals that of its Winnipeg operation. “Anybody who knows Alberta understands there are huge opportunities out there,” he notes.

The Riverside Company specializes in companies valued less than $100 million and currently has 62 companies in its portfolio with combined annual sales of about US $3 billion. “We will work with [Polar] to leverage its unique relationship-selling and referral accomplishments and grow revenue in Polar’s established markets,” says Schlachet. “At the same time, we’ll be looking for the right add-on opportunities to expand into other geographies.”