BID Group is a one-stop shop for companies in the forestry sector
BID Group has climbed up the Top 100 in recent years, powered by a flurry of acquisitions
BID Group made its Top 100 debut last year, at No. 87. The company has proven that wasn’t a fluke. This time around, BID—a turnkey supplier to the wood-processing industry—moves all the way up to 70th. Its 75-percent revenue jump, to $700 million, is the fourth-highest such gain on our list.
What’s the secret to BID’s recent success? Well, though the company was launched in 1983 by the family of chair emeritus Brian Fehr and became known for providing a wide range of services to the forest products industry, 2006 marks the beginning of its steady rise. That’s when BID turned toward strategic acquisitions aimed at diversifying its offerings, starting with DelTech Manufacturing, a Prince George–headquartered specialist in forestry energy solutions. Such takeovers have only become more of a priority in the past 10 years.
It’s fun to imagine Fehr and president and CEO Alistair Cook as players on a Monopoly board gobbling up properties—you’d have to imagine they’d be the wheelbarrow, right?—but things are a little more complicated.
The company prides itself on smart, timely moves. One of those (and probably the biggest in its history, though privately held BID doesn’t disclose deal terms) was the takeover of Comact, a Quebec-based designer and manufacturer of wood-processing equipment, in 2013. There have been a host of acquisitions since, including three purchases last year alone.
Steven Hofer, senior vice-president, operations, describes BID as a very lean organization. “Unlike others, we really don’t have a structured corporate office,” says Hofer, who works out of Bellingham, Washington. “Basically, our geographic footprint is wherever you see trees grow.”
To that end, the company has regional offices in Prince George (where it’s incorporated), Washington State, Montreal and South Carolina. Hofer estimates that about 35 percent of BID’s 1,800 employees are in the U.S. A couple of hundred ply their trade in B.C., with the balance in Quebec.
Courtesy of BID GroupThat flexibility of location is a positive, but it also comes with hurdles, especially for a business that’s constantly buying new brands. “When you go through such a period of rapid growth and expansion, the real challenge and opportunity is around how well we have integrated our acquisitions,” Hofer says.
“So we spend a lot of time developing that front-end integration plan to ensure that when we do an acquisition, we have a plan of how we’re going to integrate it into our company. It’s not just the equipment. It’s the people, it’s the systems, it’s the technology.” As a result, the company can “hit the ground running right away, versus trying to figure out what we’re going to do with the asset,” Hofer explains.
That’s made a big difference in the way BID operates, but also in how it’s seen from the outside. “We’re now known as the go-to provider for system controls and optimization, and our turnkey solution offering is a major differentiator between BID and any of our competitors,” says Hofer of the services the company provides for the forestry industry,
which include engineering, project management, installation, startup and after-sales support.
It’s no secret that many B.C. wood products companies have gone through tough times in the province lately, mostly thanks to wildfires and the mountain pine beetle. “You can see it in the financial results of West Fraser and Canfor and Interfor that running sawmills in B.C. is a difficult business today,” Hofer says. Still, BID keeps moving the needle. Or, rather, the wheelbarrow.