Ackroo moves HQ to Hamilton amid tight Ottawa talent market

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One of Ottawa’s publicly traded companies has shifted its headquarters from the capital after it struggled to find the talent it needed to grow locally.

Ackroo (TSX-V:AKR), which develops customer loyalty solutions for brands such as Husky Energy and Landmark Cinemas, now calls Hamilton home after an official move at the end of 2019. CEO Steve Levely confirmed the move in an email to OBJ Monday.

The company has largely consolidated its Ottawa and Montreal offices in its new Hamilton HQ, Levely said.

Four employees work for Ackroo now in Ottawa – compared with 20 at its apex – with plans to formally close the local office at the end of January. Ackroo employs 25 people in Hamilton as the company gradually relocated and replaced employees with Steeltown talent over the past few years. Levely added there is “lots more hiring ahead of us.”

Finding the necessary talent it needed to grow was the company’s primary issue in Ottawa, Levely wrote in his email.

Polls suggest most Ottawa business leaders agree with Levely’s assessment. Seventy per cent of respondents to the 2019 Ottawa Business Growth Survey said attracting and retaining skilled workers is one of the top five issues facing their companies.

Sweetening the deal, Ackroo also received a $500,000 loan from the Southern Ontario Fund for Investment in Innovation (SOFII) to make the move, Levely said.

“Lots of reasons for the change and although I personally love Ottawa and my time there this was best for all,” he wrote.

The past few years have seen Ackroo grow both organically and through a series of acquisitions. The company hit $5.2 million in annual revenues in 2019, up 18 per cent year-over-year.