Morris Industries gets new ownership and investment

Saskatoon-based Morris Industries has undergone a change in ownership, with private investors injecting new capital into the farm equipment manufacturer.

Ben Voss, together with Calgary-based Avrio Capital and Lamont Brown Group, have acquired a majority stake in the business from outgoing CEO Casey Davis. Voss, who’s served as president since 2015, has also replaced Davis as CEO.

The ownership change “marks a significant commitment to growth and re-investment in the company,” says a company news release.

“We’re excited and pleased for our customers and employees. It’s great because they can carry on expecting the same great things from the company, and we get to keep all of our innovation and production local,” says Voss, who also owns a grain farm near Spiritwood, Sask.

In the interview below, Voss says Morris has managed to maintain steady output through the recent downturn in the manufacturing industry due to its diversified markets around the world.

“This ownership change is giving us the backbone and strength to continue that. The goals and objectives of myself and our partners are to focus on growth,” he says.

Voss says Morris chose to seek internal funding rather than pursue an acquisition by another manufacturer.

“Going out to the market, with the consolidations that have occurred, just didn’t fit with what we were hoping for in terms of (Casey’s) objectives and mine. We knew there would be potential side effects of that that might not be the best for our customers or employees, so this was a win-win. We didn’t even test that, to be honest,” he says.

Although the amounts invested by Avrio and Lamont Brown are undisclosed, Morris says Avrio’s contribution is one of its largest in 15 years of investing in agriculture and food.

“We are delighted to have attracted Avrio to lead the recapitalization of our company,” says Voss. “Their depth of food and agriculture expertise and track record will be essential to re-invigorating the innovation and farmer-inspired creativity that has underpinned Morris since its inception.”

Davis, who organized the acquisition of Morris from Wendy Morris in 2007, is staying as a minority shareholder, director and advisor.

“This sale is a great opportunity for this Western Canadian success story to continue,” he says. “There are existing and evolving market opportunities that will continue to allow Morris to grow.”

Steven Leakos, the lead partner in Avrio, and Keith Brown, founder and chair of Lamont Brown Group, will also sit on Morris’ board of directors.

Morris has around 300,000 square feet of manufacturing space in facilities located at Yorkton, Sask., Saskatoon, Sask., and Minnedosa, Man.

Related: Feds Announce $4.1 Million for Morris Industries & Canadian Presence at Agritechnica ’17

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