ORILLIA AREA COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORP
Some business owners can’t get enough of Orillia and area businesses, and Timm McLean is definitely one of them.
McLean has owned a number of businesses in Orillia, including Extreme Rockstar Clothing, which was active from 2008 to 2014. He is now the CEO of WLTH on Coldwater Street.
When McLean decided he wanted to start another business in his hometown, he knew where he had to go: the Orillia Area Community Development Corp. (CDC) and, more specifically, its BizLink program.
“I was playing hockey overseas,” McLean explained. “But when COVID-19 hit, that ended and I decided to look here for new business opportunities that I could sink my teeth into. I was originally looking to grow one of my own businesses and approached the CDC for funding opportunities, but nothing seemed to make sense in terms of expansion. Then I was introduced to Carol Benedetti and the BizLink program.
McLean went on to explain that he considered buying some local businesses himself, before discovering BizLink, but nothing materialized.
“Every time I reached out to someone, things weren’t necessarily ready to go. They weren’t quite ready to sell, they didn’t know how, they didn’t know how to value the business,” he said.
But when McLean started working with BizLink, those dead ends miraculously disappeared.
“I was able to contact several companies. I made an offer on a few companies, which I didn’t get. I went through the process, probably ultimately, for about a year and a half. This process really helped me narrow down what I was looking for, what size, what types of industries,” McLean said.
McLean was looking for a lower-middle-market company in Orillia, one too big for a single operator, but not big enough for a private equity group to buy. A few potential deals fell through, but Benedetti then pitched McLean to Bob Wink and Windmill Garden Centre, in December 2021.
“We had a quick phone call because Bob lives in BC in the winter, and within the first 20 minutes I knew this would be the right opportunity for both of us,” McLean enthused.
Wink was actively looking for a buyer via BizLink, and with Benedetti’s connection to McLean, everything fell into place.
“I hung up the phone and said to my wife, ‘I think that’s the company we’re going to buy,'” McLean said.
The purchase happened very quickly, as Wink and McLean decided it made sense to pass it off as a done deal for the 2022 season, which began in April. This is a very quick turnaround to sell a business, but the pair and BizLink did it.
McLean and his wife, Megan, are now the proud owners of Windmill Garden Center and Landscaping.
Windmill sponsored See You on the Patio this year, contributing $10,000 to the popular summer program, to keep it running in 2022.
“I’m a big believer in community support, and this was a great opportunity to do that,” McLean said.
Wink is there in an advisory role to the couple, for the first two years, to help ease the transition, a step that Benedetti always encourages, if possible.
Many long-time Windmill employees are also helping McLean, and he’s doing what he can to make sure the transition has gone smoothly, making small changes, including in branding and site. Web, but nothing too drastic.
“We bought a business that was already successful and we want to stay true to the quality principles that built this business,” McLean said. “More significant changes and expansion plans may arise in the future.
“The employees have been great and I enjoy learning more about landscaping and seeing the end result. Landscaping makes an amazing difference, and having that actual end point is something I really appreciate in these projects. And, of course, Bob was a tremendous resource and help.
“The CDC staff are just wonderful. My wife and I have used the Orillia Area CDC on several programs, in several businesses we’ve had, and we’ve had wonderful experiences every time. It is truly a hidden gem among business owners. For a small community, the CDC packs a lot of punch.
Congratulations, BizLink, on another successful business transition. For more information about BizLink and other Orillia Area CDC programs, visit orilliacdc.com or contact 705-325-4903, ext. 101.
To learn more about Windmill Garden Center and Landscaping, visit windmillgardencentre.ca or call 705-323-9463.
Special thanks to the funder of the project, the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). OTF is an agency of the Government of Ontario and one of Canada’s premier granting foundations. OTF awarded $108 million to 629 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.