Ottawa-based Craft&Crew Corp. has acquired web development and maintenance agency Fenix Solutions following a period of expansion.
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Ottawa-based Craft&Crew Corp. has acquired web development and maintenance agency Fenix Solutions following a period of expansion that has seen the team grow to more than 50 employees. Craft&Crew Corp. is a network of marketing and media agencies that includes Craft&Crew, a website production agency; media buying and planning brokerage Media Propulsion Laboratory; and video production agency Simple Story Videos. Fenix will continue to operate as an independent agency while providing a “depth of expertise” that “perfectly complements” the other Craft&Crew services, said Craft&Crew CEO Dave Hale, one of this year’s Forty Under 40 recipients. The acquisition will also support the growth of Fenix’s service offerings, he added. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Existing clients of Fenix will have access to Craft&Crew’s website production process, user experience strategy, user interface design and digital marketing services, while clients of Craft&Crew will benefit from Fenix’s expertise with Drupal, an open-source CMS or content management system, as well as website support and maintenance programs. The deal has been a long time coming, Hale told OBJ, describing how he joked to Fenix CEO Jennifer MacKinnon over dinner eight years ago about wanting to know if she ever wished to sell Fenix. “I was half-serious and definitely couldn't have afforded it at the time," said Hale. “Fast forward and, in 2021, she called to say she was considering selling the business.” Craft&Crew’s website production agency relies on web design and individual projects for 80 per cent of revenue, while maintenance and support is responsible for 20 per cent. “It was just a model we had never really cracked and the amount we were outsourcing kept growing and growing and growing,” Hale said. “But what really got us excited was that, with Fenix, 80 per cent of revenue is maintenance and 20 (per cent) is building. So we are getting this Drupal capability, but also maybe more important is the ability to have a really robust web offering.” Looking ahead, Hale said he and the team need a “cooldown period” from the intense growth of the last year, which included the acquisitions of Media Propulsion Laboratory and Simple Story Videos. “There are lots of plans for the future but, if I’m being honest, this last 12-month period has really kicked my ass, so this vacation is very important,” he said from a holiday in Switzerland. “For the future, it's about tightening up, looking at the moves we made. We grew from 19 to 52 people in 10 months. For a services company with no external funding or investors, that's difficult to manage and the last months have been a ‘hold-on-for-dear-life’ kind of situation. “What we’re trying to create is unique for Ottawa. We want to prove you can create a marketing agency network out of Ottawa and a still relatively small Canadian company can compete at a pretty global level,” Hale continued. “We’re proud of what we're creating and we've proved to ourselves that despite the headaches and stress we can get a lot done.” MacKinnon, a recipient of the Forty Under 40 and Established Entrepreneur awards and Ottawa’s Businesswoman of the Year in 2021, said she has “the utmost respect” for Hale, the Craft&Crew team and their “impressive” vision. “Dave (Hale) is a trailblazer and a force of nature,” MacKinnon said. “His natural leadership, passion for building and growing businesses and procuring and developing a world-class team are key reasons why this acquisition was the right fit for both of us.”