Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New owner for lumber stores

McMunn & Yates to purchase McDiarmid

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A Dauphin-based company has agreed to acquire McDiarmid Lumber's assets.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

A Dauphin-based company has agreed to acquire McDiarmid Lumber's assets. Photo Store

McMunn & Yates Building Supplies, the Dauphin-based independent lumber and hardware store that has provided a Manitoba-owned retail presence in small-town Manitoba since the early '70s, has agreed to acquire most of the assets of the struggling McDiarmid Lumber Ltd.

The agreement includes all of McDiarmid's store locations except the Nairn Avenue location in Winnipeg and stores in Yorkton, Sask., and Sioux Lookout, Ont.

McMunn & Yates has also agreed to buy McDiarmid's contracting and farm and commercial divisions as well as Superior Truss. Its ready-to-move home division is not part of the agreement.

The deal is said to valued at around $30 million.

McDiarmid has been struggling for the past couple of years. The business challenges prompted a messy family dispute between original owner Tom Matthews and his son-in-law Vince Ryz, who had been running the business for the past five years.

The dispute ended up in court with family members suing each other. Ryz stepped down earlier this year and Matthews injected some additional capital and installed restructuring specialist Richard Hutchings to run the business and negotiate a deal.

Hutchings said his prime marching order was the preservation of as many jobs as possible.

"I think we've done a fair job salvaging most of the jobs," Hutchings said. "We had lots of offers. McMunn & Yates was not necessarily the top price but it represented the best opportunity for our employees. It will get those locations back on track."

McDiarmid has about 400 employees.

Jason Yates, the CEO of McMunn & Yates, was unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon. The deal is scheduled to close in early June.

McMunn & Yates, which used to be called McMunn & Yates Do-It Centres, started with one store in Dauphin. Through acquisitions and new store construction it now has 16 locations, mostly in small-town Manitoba -- from Thompson and Flin Flon in the north to Roblin and Russell in western Manitoba to Steinbach in the south. It also has stores in Yorkton and Kamsack, Sask., and a store in Charleswood it acquired in 1988.

While McMunn & Yates has been growing steadily, McDiarmid had been heading in the other direction. McDiarmid closed stores in Brandon, Portage la Prairie and Prince Albert, Sask., last year as well as a distribution centre in Elie and a ready-to-move homes distribution operation in North Battleford, Sask. Its Western Window and Door division was shut down in March.

It has scheduled an auction of surplus trucks and other equipment from its discontinued operations for early June.

Hutchings said McDiarmid will continue to operate the ready-to-move homes division that has sites in Headingley and Yorkton, Sask., and is in negotiation with individual interested parties for the stores in Yorkton, Sioux Lookout and Nairn Avenue. Matthews owns the Nairn location, which will continue as a clearance centre.

A statement of claim was filed in Manitoba court last fall by Matthews against Ryz. In dispute was who actually controlled the company -- Ryz, who orchestrated a disputed share issue last fall, or Matthews. Ryz hung on to his posts for a couple of months after being publicly lambasted by his father-in-law in a sworn affidavit. He stepped down earlier this year.

Hutchings said the contracting, farm and commercial and truss divisions have all produced double-digit growth since new management was put in place. However, McDiarmid's retail operations continued to decline this year. Hutchings said poor spring weather was at least partially to blame.

"But I think that's ready to pick up," Hutchings said.

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 22, 2013 B6

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Updated on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 7:17 AM CDT: replaces photo, adds fact box

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