Members of Loewen Family Buy Back Company from VKRJuly 2nd, 2013 by DWM Magazine
Loewen, of Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada, announced today that it has been acquired by a group of investors including original shareholders Charles Loewen and Clyde Loewen, along with new investors Al Babiuk, president and CEO, members of management and other private investors. Charles Loewen will assume the role of chairman of the board and Clyde Loewen will be rejoining the executive management group.
The company was owned by the Loewen family until July 2010 when it was acquired by VKR Holding A/S of Denmark.
“A review by VKR of its portfolio strategy for North America led to a decision to divest of Loewen, as well as Gienow Windows and Doors of Calgary, Alberta,” said a statement issued today. (VKR divested Gienow to Ply Gem in April. )
DWM magazine spoke to Babiuk today about the changes.
DWM: Tell me a little more about why VKR made this decision:
Babiuk: When VKR acquired Loewen they had just acquired Gienow and their strategy was to expand into the North American market with brands such as doors and windows. They later revisited that strategy to diversify and that meant they had to find alternative ownership for those companies [Gienow and Loewen].
DWM: When we talked to you back in 2010 about the sale to VKR you said the company was looking for a transition plan, so why get back in? Why not sell to someone else: Was that considered?
Babiuk: Back in 2010, the Loewen family group consisted of more of the original shareholders who had been in place for a number of years and they were looking for transition as a whole and VKR looked best at the time. Members of the previous group included more family members than just Charles and Clyde, and that sale did allow other shareholders to exit. The current ownership group, including Charles, Clyde, myself and several others, put together a bid as part of a process that VKR was managing. We were one of several alternatives and ultimately we were chosen.
DWM: Back in 2010, you said it had to be the right company to sell to. Do you still think VKR was the right company? You also said your reason back then was to grow in North America. Did that happen and you can now continue that growth?
Babiuk: Everyone has been in participating in the recession over the last four to five years. The industry has been fairly conservative looking for the market to recover which it is now doing. With VKR’s strategy it looked like it would create an opportunity for growth and allow us to bundle some strategy [due to their ownership of Gienow]. When VKR decided to make this change it meant we needed to look at alternatives. We didn’t know the strategy would change and neither did they. It is important to note that they will continue to own VELUX—a major player in North America in the roof window market. When circumstances changed they acted responsibly and went through a thorough process to see what the best exit was and the best result for the company.
DWM: What were the thoughts of the family going through this and considering getting back in to the business?
Babiuk: When VKR bought us back in 2010, Charles and Clyde were still part of the group and were very involved. But it was a major change for them not being owners. They adapted well but fate being what it is and presenting the opportunity to get back in with a new group looking to grow was the ideal situation to come back in and get involved. All parties were known to each other and there is cohesion of thinking, etc. That’s why it all came together.
DWM: Is there anything else you would like to add about today’s acquisition news?
Babiuk: Our plan now is to continue to focus on the areas of the market we have been successful in—architectural and the custom building segment. We will be supporting our dealers who have been very loyal. There are also great opportunities in the Canadian market as well as we are long established here. We have added new staff in Canada and have established new showrooms here in Canada. We feel very positive and are in a good position as the U.S. continues to recover.