Making a sound investment

ROVIS owner Bill Kenney with Bizerba slicer

ROVIS owner Bill Kenney with Bizerba slicer ready for return to local Metro’s deli

Bill Kenney’s friends told him not to buy a business.  But he did. And that worked out so well he bought another, three years later.

Bill, you see, had just retired after 35 years in scientific instrument sales, much of it on the road, covering accounts in Canada and the New England states. At 66, he wasn’t about to “sit home and read newspapers.”

“My friends thought I should just take it easy, but that wasn’t my modus operandi,” he recalls.

“I retired on Thursday, flying in from Boston,” he continues. “Driving down Riverside Drive (Ottawa) early the next week, I saw the Sunbelt Business Brokers sign and went in.”

Local broker Olga Nadjakova became his guide to locating and buying the business that met his needs.

I went to seminars and looked at franchises first, says Bill.  “But what I wanted was an established business that was locally owned.”

Olga connected Bill with ROVIS and it fit the bill.

“I knew nothing about the food service equipment repair,” says Bill. “But I was attracted to the business—it’s relatively recession-proof. Equipment still breaks. And companies may delay the repair but eventually they get it fixed.”

Bill saw the business as a sound investment—much less risky than the stock market.

Under the ROVIS umbrella

It was a major learning curve, at his age, he admits.  The workings of commercial-sized meat saws, scales, hot cases, baking ovens, bread-slicers and the like were new to him, but the ROVIS employees were all licensed and experienced.

And Bill was well versed in sales and customer service. His experience in his previous career was in fact much like running his own business, he says.  “We dealt with the service department, we dealt with the finance department, the application people… to solve the customer’s problems on site.“

ROVIS covers grocery stores for four major chains from Maniwaki to Pembroke, Cornwall to Belleville.  “I go out sometimes, as an extra pair of hands, or to help with customers,” Bill mentions.  “I like meeting people.”

His employees service most of the equipment on site, but sometimes use the small shop in the back of the ROVIS office on Capella Court.  This office will now serve as the umbrella for Bill’s new acquisition—David’s Restaurant Service.

Bill was not looking for another business but he was keen to hear more when Sunbelt Ottawa office owner Greg Kells called with “the perfect acquisition.”

David’s was providing for restaurants what ROVIS provides for grocery stores, says Greg, also president of Sunbelt Canada. “The company had a great employee and happy clients in an area that was compatible with what ROVIS was already offering.  I could see the synergies with Bill’s operation.”

Greg and the lawyer he recommended, Jay Humphrey, were of great help in getting the deal done, says Bill.

Under the ROVIS umbrella, David’s immediately gains a centralized service, with accountant, bookkeeper and software.

ROVIS gains a much larger client base—without additional expense.

And does Bill, now 69, plan to slow his pace?

“I like getting paid every week,” Bill smiles.

“I fit in times for golf and hockey.  And I’m working towards reducing my work week.”


We asked Bill to share with other potential new buyers what he has learned about buying a business. These are some of his tips:

  • Have all your money in place. Prepare for additional expenses that you might not have budgeted for.  Keep the closing date in mind. The sale probably will not close on the date originally agreed upon.
  • Get the purchase process started asap but prepare for delays. The seller can drag their heels, have trouble finding documents etc. to meet the closing date.
  • Maintain a good relationship with the seller. There is a good chance that you will need their input shortly after the sale closes.

2 responses to “Making a sound investment

  1. That Bizerba slicer looks like one real mean machine, nice and shiny too. Also it’s great to read of Bill taking a leap to run his own business and thrive, despite friends and family saying other wise.

  2. Pingback: Buyers give their TIPS on buying a business | The Real Deal

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