When Two Become One: Equipment Ontario

Beverly Written by Beverly Leavitt November 25, 2021 Member Updates

Equipment Ontario leadership team standing in front of a tractor shaking hands.

If there’s a trend we’ve seen more and more of, it’s smaller dealer groups merging to form amalgamated powerhouses. 

As of December 1, 2021, Stoltz Sales and Service and Hub International will join the ranks as one of Ontario’s largest CaseIH dealerships under the new name of Equipment Ontario. 

Where One Door Closes... 

“About a year ago, the Hub organization and we started to chat,” says Marlin Stoltz of Stoltz Sales and Service. The timing is no coincidence either; with the retirement of Richards Equipment in Stouffville and Church Equipment in Barrie, we needed to come up with a strategy to cover the space between us and tackling it together made logical sense.      

Greg Snodden of Hub International chimes in, “there has been lots of discussion about how we’re going to grow and prepare for succession. We decided that [Stoltz] would be a good fit since we have similar mindsets and cultures.

It’s a way for us to maintain the integrity and culture as a merger rather than an acquisition.”

As two separate entities, Stoltz’s and Hub International own three and two CaseIH dealerships, respectively. Once they merge their five locations, they plan on opening a sixth to fill the gap in the middle. 

Until then, they continue to service the entire area with mobile service vehicles and on-farm parts delivery.  

Making a Merger Work

A mere two hours apart, Marlin says, “we are very much two peas in a pod. Over the 40+ years that we have each been in business, we have established a good working relationship."

Joining two dealerships (and two families) with four decades of experience under their belts is bound to come with some hurdles, but Greg and Marlin are prepared. 

“We’ve tried to figure out what the objections might be and, hopefully, we have the plans together to deal with them. We’ve gotten that advice from people who have gone through this before,” shared Marlin. 

Managing external expectations with their internal obligations, Greg says, “we’re still meeting weekly to work through processes and identify best practices at each location so we can adopt the ones that make the most sense going forward. 

It’s all been very calm and level-headed—we’re very accepting of each other’s opinions, and we seem to be able to resolve the decision-making process without confrontation. Though every time we converse, we talk about ‘us’ and ‘them,’ and going forward, it will be ‘we,’ and we need to adopt that mindset.”

Relationships First

For some, the term “merger” may set off alarm bells ringing warnings of downsizing and removing redundancies. However, holding true to their cultural promises, Equipment Ontario will be keeping their entire staff and even bringing on new positions. 

“We discussed the rollout for our employee group and customer base before we did it, and I think that we have had a very controlled approach. We didn’t leave anything to the imagination to set their minds at ease,” says Greg. He continues, “we did this to secure their employment, not to put it at risk. We made a decision to control our future and theirs.”

Marlin adds, “our business is relationship-based. Our customers may have a relationship with a particular salesperson, but now they will have access to a larger equipment pool. We will have a larger breadth of knowledge and talent to draw from, so when someone runs into a challenge, they can check with the four other branches to see if they’ve experienced it before.”

Think a merger may be in your future? 

The resounding advice from both Marlin and Greg amounts to: “the easiest way is to pick a like-minded group to work with. Before you get too immersed, make sure that their culture and priorities are similar. It makes it easier to get what you want out of the new organization.”