Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Conviron's first acquisition B.C.'s Argus

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AFTER nearly a half-century in business, a Winnipeg manufacturer and exporter has completed its first acquisition.

Controlled Environments Ltd. (Conviron), the world's largest designer and supplier of plant-growth chambers and growth rooms for the agricultural research industry, announced Wednesday it has acquired White Rock, B.C.-based Argus Control Systems Ltd. for an undisclosed sum.

Argus is the North American leader in the design and supply of advanced automated monitoring and control systems for greenhouses and other commercial horticultural applications, as well as for the aquaculture and biotechnology industries.

Conviron president and CEO Steve Kroft said the acquisition will enable both companies to grow their sales in North America and abroad. Argus will operate as an independent business unit under its own name.

"In the last six or seven years, we have seen considerable growth, but it's all been organic growth," Kroft said of Conviron, in business since 1964. "This is our first acquisition, so it's very meaningful for us in that respect."

He wouldn't say how much Conviron's sales are expected to increase as a result of the deal.

"Suffice it to say that the acquisition will lead to revenue growth for both Argus and Conviron's core business, and that it will be material."

Kroft said the deal makes Conviron the only company in the world that can offer research centres a "stem-to-stern" controlled-environment solution.

"With our new relationship, we will be able to supply integrated control systems that will enable clients to manage their entire facility -- from tissue culture and plant-growth chambers to greenhouses and building systems -- all on a single platform," added Bill Mukanik, Conviron's vice-president of client services.

Kroft said it will also enable Conviron to make new inroads into the horticulture, acquaculture and biotechnology markets, where Argus has a significant presence.

And Argus can use Conviron's international distribution network to expand its sales beyond North America into overseas markets.

"Their system is well-suited to the export market. It's a robust system, it's very reliable and it's easy to install," Kroft said. "And they're also able to do a lot of service work remotely from their facility (in White Rock)."

Kroft and Argus co-founder Alec Mackenzie said Argus and Conviron have had a business relationship for about 15 years, with Conviron occasionally incorporating Argus's monitoring and control system into its controlled-environment packages.

Mackenzie said he and his wife, Marlene, who is president of the company, will remain with the firm in the short term to ensure a smooth transition. And once the transition is complete, they will continue to provide consulting and mentoring services to the new management team.

"We're very happy with the outcome here," he said.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 4, 2013 A16

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