March 2, 2007

Merger Creates Cleanup Giant

Woodhouse Contracting Ltd. in Kitchener has merged with Edenvale Restoration Specialists Ltd. of Abbotsford, B.C., to create the biggest independent disaster restoration company in Canada.

Standing beside a stack of industrial fans used in site restorations after fires are Bill Bradley (left) and Dan Loosemore, both senior managers with the Kitchener-based Woodhouse division of the new EW Disaster Kleenup Canada L.P.

Woodhouse Contracting Ltd. of Kitchener now part of EW Disaster Kleenup Canada

Toronto-based private equity company Torquest Partners recently acquired majority ownership of the newly created entity, EW Disaster Kleenup Canada L.P., which takes its initials from Edenvale and Woodhouse.

The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Ken Woodhouse, who remains president of the Woodhouse division of EW Disaster Kleenup Canada, based in Kitchener, said the limited partnership arrangement won't result in any significant changes for the 410 people who are employed by the two companies in Ontario and on the west coast.

"We have retooled our management group in order to allow for future growth in this area, but that is growth we were anticipating in any case," Woodhouse said.

The arrangement gives Woodhouse Contracting and Edenvale a greater ability to expand and potentially develop a national footprint in the disaster restoration business, Woodhouse said.

TorQuest brings "a lot of very good corporate connections" into the partnership, he said.

It also brings the capital. "If we, in fact, do more acquisitions, they would be in a position to finance those," Woodhouse said.

Edenvale and Woodhouse Contracting were already the two biggest independent companies within Disaster Kleenup International Canada Ltd., a national network of restoration contractor businesses that work through insurance companies to clean up following floods, fires and other disasters.

In addition to Kitchener, Woodhouse operates in Stratford, Brantford, Guelph, Hamilton, Orangeville and Mississauga. The company also is looking at expanding into St. Catherines in the near future, Woodhouse said.

Edenvale operates in Abbotsford, Burnaby, Chilliwack and Surrey, B.C.

Bill Bradley, customer and corporate relations manager at Woodhouse Contracting, said the organization's size provides benefits in dealing with major insurers.

Large insurers that operate coast to coast want consistent service from restoration companies so it makes sense to deal with a company that operates in a large area, he said.

The scale of the organization means the company has the people and equipment to respond to disasters of all sizes, said Dan Loosemore, sales and marketing manager.

"Reacting quickly and with a large task force is what distinguishes Woodhouse," he said.

Source: rsimone@therecord.com