Strone is on an expansion binge. Based in Oakville, Ontario, the emergency solution company has made three acquisitions in the last year, including a Montreal office — their second location outside of Ontario. Co-CEO Steve Blinco believes it's the most efficient growth strategy for the company that recently landed on Deloitte's Top 50 Best Managed Companies list.
"The only way we can grow into other areas in Canada is to acquire companies that are in our industry," says Steve. "Otherwise, to try and grow organically into another province would be a really slow growth process and really challenging."
Becoming larger allows Strone to streamline spending.
"When you're on your own as a sole proprietor, sometimes you can't afford to hire the people you need to help you build up your weaker areas," explains Steve. "When you can departmentalize areas, you can gain much more focus on aspects of your business and usually reduce your administrative costs."
Founded by Steve and his brother Neil Blinco, the 26 year-old company currently has 18 offices. Originally they focused on fire and water remediation and restoration, odor removal and document drying. But with their recent expansion, Strone now offers oil spill remediation, asbestos abatement, demolition, disposal and hazardous waste response. In some ways, the expansion is a reaction to industry demands.
"The overhead requirements for our business are pretty heavy — the insurance companies are demanding more and more of us every year," says Steve. "Becoming a bigger company can reduce your overhead by using technology and advances in reporting methods."
Web-based proprietary software and in-house programmers keep the centrally managed offices connected, ensuring consistency. Even at a cost of $150,000 a year, Steve says it's a money-saver. "We've invested over a million dollars, easily, in terms of development time. But in terms of what it's saved us overall in manpower, in reporting, in maintaining clients, because of the turnaround and the real time data we're able to provide, it's paid for itself a number of times over."
With those systems in place, it is easier for the company to incorporate new offices into its processes, which positions Strone nicely for the future. Especially since insured perils like oil spills, cleanups and remediation work show no sign of abating.
"We've been consistently around a $30 million business for the last three or four years. We'll be closer to $50 million this year. We're not really setting any particular time frame, but we'd like to grow to at least $100 million company in terms of business sales."
by YouInc Columnist Tiffany Burns