GE Security acquired Edwards in 2005. GE’s goal was for double digit growth and it was clear that in a number of locations in Canada, that simply wasn’t going to happen. So the value of twelve fire service and sales locations in low growth areas cross Canada became questionable. In addition to this, the nature of sprinkler work and its industrial environment with what they perceived as a low level of technology was also less attractive to GE.
Jim McCoubrey, General Manager for GE Security Canada, made the decision to assemble a small group of interested employees and make a bid to GE to purchase the Troy Sprinkler business along with the 12 Fire Sales and Service operations in Canadian non-metropolitan areas bringing with it 400 employees. It would be the first ever GE Security Strategic Partnership formed in Canada!
Initially this small team had to overcome financing hurdles because the major lenders on Bay St. had a hard time fitting this carve out business into the typical models they used to value businesses. With little time left from the close date, we overcame that by working with a local bank on main street Owen Sound that recognized and understood the value that the experienced team brought to the business.
The amount of resource put toward responding to numerous detailed legal document requests put forward by the GE Security legal team, the bank, the federal and provincial governments, the Insurance companies, the Bonding company, etc. were daunting. Our small team worked long hours and took on many additional responsibilities to come together and build the necessary information to close the deal. Many times Jim was close to the final step only to learn that GE required yet another unexpected document or explanation or money. Attempting a carve out such as this, from such a significant player as GE was not for the faint of heart.
Additional challenges were encountered when promises by GE Security to support our initial payroll, operating system setup, and shared head office space for a period of time did not come through. In one critical example the team was told by GE that they would not do the weekly payroll for over 250 of our hourly employees, the team came together and worked around the clock to quickly source and implement a solution to pay our people. Overcoming numerous challenges and delays immediately drove home the benefit of being a small privately owned entity that could come together, brainstorm, and go away with the solution with each member of the team playing a part!
We may not have been a huge team but we knew the business and we were nimble on our feet. With a lot of sweat and a few tears we closed the deal without missing a step with our customers; meeting our go live date with all plans in place. In the press release Jim stated that “This is a win-win situation for all involved, it’s an optimum way to achieve strategic growth……We have the most experienced team in our industry and see great growth opportunity in the Canadian market and we are a preferred Partner with GE Security, one of the most well-known names in the Security and Life Safety industry in Canada”. On the GE side of things, A. Louis Parker, president and CEO, GE Security added “This strategic partnership -- the first for GE Security in Canada -- is good news for GE, for Troy Sprinkler Limited and -- most importantly -- for our customers," "GE is committed to growing its security business and this puts our businesses on a solid foundation for long-term success while ensuring Canadian customers will continue to be the beneficiaries of GE Security's leading portfolio of security and life safety products”.
GE Security sold their remaining piece of the business to UTC in 2010 and that entity became known as Chubb Edwards and carried on the strategic partner relationship with Troy until 2015 when it became evident that the new Chubb Edwards strategy and Troy’s business plan did not align. We embarked on a major change in Fire Alarm Supplier by partnering with Tyco and representing the Simplex brand of products. This allowed us to now participate in 100% of the service market in Canada rather than defined areas which was the agreement with Chubb Edwards, and this change continues to fuel our service growth today. Some have asked us in the past ten years, how did we manage it all? Jim’s never wavering commitment to see the deal through, the team work that existed because of the confidence held in each other’s ability, and our ability to network and draw upon many other experts we had come to know in our lengthy careers all contributed to our ability to move forward successfully. Added to that was the confidence our customers had in our people in all areas of the country where we had been conducting business since the 60’s and 70’s. It was clear that we were going to be continuing to work with the same trusted team of experts they had come to rely on, so the name change was irrelevant in most markets when the faces were all the same.
Where are we today? Well Troy is an all Canadian company that is 100% employee owned. In the beginning 45 employees invested their money in this dream; today we have 100 employees invested and growing yearly. In the 10 years of business our population has grown by 75% to 650 employees in 35 locations across the country. Our business profile has changed significantly from just 35% of our sales coming from service to 60% today. We have become one of the most recognizable players in life safety for the large national accounts in all areas of building management and marine. Today we are continuing to grow our business by taking the positive experiences we had as part of large multinational corporations; combining that with the entrepreneurial spirit that comes with having shareholders in each branch of an all employee owned business. We make decisions quickly and respond to market changing trends without the challenges of large corporate entities with its bureaucratic matrix management.
Our customers and our employees are key to our success. Involving employees in the ownership and empowering them to make the right decision for their customers and markets continues to work favourably toward our success. The competitors will always be there and sometimes the economy doesn’t perform the way we expect, but at Troy we keep doing what we do well and are never be satisfied with status quo.
Troy Life & Fire Safety Ltd is a privately owned Canadian company that offers a comprehensive lineup of fire alarm, fire suppression, communications, nurse call and security products, backed by coast-to-coast service and a talent team exceeding 650. An authorized distributor of the Simplex line from Tyco Fire Protection Products, Troy provides life safety and property protection for any application.