W. Man. equipment dealer to join ‘consolidator’ chain

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A pair of farm equipment dealerships in western Manitoba are set to become the latest links in a Prairiewide chain of equipment outlets by next month.

Rocky Mountain Equipment, a Calgary-based "consolidator" of 39 equipment dealers across the Prairies, mostly handling Case IH, New Holland and Case Construction brands, said Friday it will buy Murray’s Farm Supplies, including its dealerships at Shoal Lake and Russell, Man., for an undisclosed sum.

Unusual for an RME acquisition, Murray’s, which booked about $15 million in revenue in its most recent full fiscal year, is not a Case IH or New Holland dealer.

Murray’s bills itself as a "shortline specialist" handling product lines including Bourgault, MacDon, Farm King, Kubota, Schulte, Meridian, Vermeer, Salford, Sakundiak, Meridian, Highline, Kuhn Knight and Bourgault Tillage Tools.

Murray’s has operated at Shoal Lake, about 110 km northwest of Brandon, since 1984 and opened a new store in 2007 at Russell, about 75 km northwest of Shoal Lake, employing 14 full-time staff between the two outlets.

Murray’s Shoal Lake operation shifted to a new store on the Yellowhead Highway in 2003 after it "outgrew" its site in the community’s downtown.

"By acquiring these stores, Rocky is expanding the availability of key product lines to our customers, and complementing the existing Case IH dealers we operate in the region," RME CEO Matt Campbell said in a release.

The RME chain already includes a Case IH dealership at Shoal Lake, which came to RME in its takeover of Miller Farm Equipment in 2008.

The chain’s other Manitoba outlets include Case IH/Kubota dealerships at Brandon and Dauphin and Case IH dealerships at Winkler, Neepawa, Killarney and Boissevain. RME also owns four Case IH shops, also former Miller dealerships, just over the provincial border in eastern Saskatchewan.

RME, the biggest independently-owned Case ag/construction dealer chain in Canada and second biggest in the world, said it expects to close the friendly deal for Murray’s effective Feb. 1, by buying 100 per cent of the shares in Murray’s parent company, MJ Solomon Ltd.

Publicly-traded RME in 2012 resumed actively buying new links in its dealer chain, after it said it would "slow down on acquisitions" in fiscal 2011. The company booked $23.2 million in profit on $802.8 million in revenues from new and used equipment, parts and service in 2011.