Why I Joined MechCan Inc.

Kaylie Chamberlin
Director of Business Development, Kaylie Chamberlin

If asked 15 years ago where I would be today, I would have told you I would be doing anything but working in the Plumbing & HVAC industry. As the offspring of two hard-working entrepreneurs who spent much of their careers in the skilled trades, the last thing I wanted to do was follow in my parents’ footsteps. Fast forward to today and I would tell the younger version of myself to be more open minded and that a career in the trades would be ripe with opportunity.

If you are new here, allow me to introduce myself. I joined the MechCan team in March 2023 as the Director of Business Development. Despite the misgivings of my younger self, I have been in the Plumbing & HVAC industry since day one. My family owned and operated a well established and thriving Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning company in rural Ontario. I spent my evenings with my family around the dinner table listening to endless conversations about what happened at the shop each day and learning the intricacies of running a skilled trades business.

Prior to joining MechCan, I was a Territory Manager for Daikin Comfort Technologies where I spent my time supporting HVAC company owner-operators, fostering long-lasting relationships, and introducing new products and ideas to my contractor network. Before that, I worked “at the Kitchen Table” as a Home Comfort Advisor with Francis Home Environment in Ottawa, ON. Through these two positions, I very quickly learned the important role the trades play in our everyday lives.

I met with the co-founders of MechCan, Spencer Ross and Arty Phillips in the Fall of 2022. Their vision is clear – they provide owner-operators of trades businesses a path to retirement that honours their legacy, protects their employees, ensures top-notch service for customers, and maintains a “family business feel” while providing the resources of a scaled organization. It was almost as if an alarm was sounding when they explained their acquisition model to me. MechCan is offering the very solution that could have changed the trajectory of my family business many years ago when my parents were ready to retire. At that time, neither my brothers nor I had the means to give my parents the retirement they deserved by taking over the day-to-day grind of running the family business. With no credible option to pass the business to the next generation, my parents sold to a buyer without experience in the industry who was unable to carry on fully what my parents had built. The mission of MechCan really hit home for me and I thought to myself, now this is something I can really get behind!

MechCan offers a differentiated, partnership-based approach to contractors. In the case of my family company, this would have been a winning strategy to ease my brothers or I into the company as a shareholder over a predetermined period, as well as transition my parents into a comfortable and happy retirement. Most importantly, the legacy of the company brand would have been preserved, the existing employees’ jobs would have been safe and secure, and the opportunity to scale the business with the help of MechCan’s shared services would have ensured a sustainable and profitable future.

What I really like about MechCan’s partnership-based model is that it works for the retiring owner-operator and provides an ownership opportunity to the next generation. These up-and-coming leaders may not have the wherewithal, risk appetite or M&A experience to purchase a profitable skilled trades business. Now that I am six months into my new role with MechCan, what I have learned from the inside is that we really view these transactions as partnerships. We work with owners to tailor a solution that fits their needs and ensure future generations are involved in the process, where applicable.

In a recent conversation with a second-generation owner-operator, I asked him what excited him most about MechCan’s model. His response was simple “My name is on this building and these trucks. The sale of the family business can’t be undone. You’re offering a solution to better the future for both my son and I that didn’t exist when I bought this company from my dad 20 years ago.”

In speaking with contractors, I hear the same comments consistently:

  • I don’t have a succession plan.
  • I don’t want to sell to someone and see the company I’ve built destroyed overnight.
  • I’m loyal to my community and don’t want to sell to a big company that won’t treat my customers well.
  • I’m not ready to sail off into the sunset yet, but I’d love to take a step back.
  • I want my son/daughter/service manager to take over, but they don’t have the money to buy me out.
  • If someone walked through that door and offered me a few million dollars, I would sell tomorrow.

If you have had any of these thoughts yourself, I encourage you to give me a call at (613) 292-0958 or e-mail me at kc@mechcan.ca. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss how a thoughtfully tailored transaction with MechCan could be a great option for you. Chances are, we have a solution you have not even thought of yet.