Some business owners can’t get enough of businesses in Orillia and area, 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 2008-2014. He is now the CEO of WLTH on Coldwater St. East.
When McLean decided he wanted to take on another business in his hometown, he knew where he had to go: the Orillia Area 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 into some new business opportunities here that I could sink my teeth into. Originally, I was looking to expand one of my own businesses, and I reached out to the CDC for some funding opportunities, but nothing seemed to make sense there in terms of expanding. Then I was introduced to Carol Benedetti and the BizLink program.”
McLean went on to explain that he had looked into buying some local businesses on his own, prior to finding out about BizLink, but nothing came to fruition. “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 clarified.
But when McLean started working with BizLink, those dead ends miraculously disappeared. “I was able to reach out to a number of companies. I made an offer on a couple of companies which I didn’t get. I went through the process, probably when all is said and done, for about a year and a half. That process really helped me to narrow down what I was looking for, what size, what types of industries,” said McLean.
McLean was looking for a lower-middle market business in Orillia, a business too big for a single operator, but not big enough that a private equity group would want to buy it. A couple of potential deals fell through, but then Benedetti introduced McLean to Bob Wink and Windmill Garden Centre, in December 2021.
“We had a quick phone call as Bob lives in B.C. in the winter, and within the first 20 minutes I knew this would be the right opportunity for both of us,” enthused McLean. Wink had been actively looking for a buyer through BizLink, and with Benedetti’s connection to McLean, everything fell into place.
“I got off the phone and said to my wife, I think this is the business we are going to buy,” mused McLean.
The buy went through very quickly, as both Wink and McLean decided it made sense to push it through to be a done deal for the 2022 season, which started in April. This is a very quick turnaround to sell a business, but the pair and BizLink made it happen.
McLean and his wife Megan are now the proud owners of Windmill Garden Centre and Landscaping.
Windmill sponsored See You on the Patio this year, contributing $10,000 towards the popular summer program, in order to keep it running in 2022. “I am a firm believer in supporting the community, and that was a great opportunity to do just that,’ said McLean.
Wink is there in an advisory role for the couple, for the first two years, to help smooth the transition, a step that Benedetti always encourages, if possible. Many long-time employees at Windmill are also helping McLean, and he is doing what he can to make sure the transition has been a good one, making small changes, including in branding and the website, but nothing too drastic. “We bought a business that was already successful, and we want to stay true to the principles of quality that built this company.” said McLean. “Bigger changes and expansion plans may come in the future.”
“The employees have been great, and I enjoy learning more about landscaping, and seeing the finished result. Landscaping makes a stunning difference, and to have that actual endpoint is something I really enjoy about these projects. And of course, Bob has been a huge resource and help,’” said McLean.
“The staff at the CDC are just wonderful. My wife and I have used the Orillia Area CDC across multiple programs, in multiple companies that we have had, and we have had wonderful experiences each time. It really is a hidden gem amongst business owners. For a small community, the CDC packs a lot of punch,” said McLean.
Congratulations BizLink, on another successful business transition. For more information about BizLink, and other programs by the Orillia Area Community Development Corp. (CDC), go to orilliacdc.com or contact 705-325-4903 x 101.
To learn more about Windmill Garden Centre & Landscaping, visit windmillgardencentre.ca or call (705) 323-9463.
*Special thanks to the project funder, The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). OTF is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded $108 million to 629 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.