IMI's boss eyes acquisitions, IPO in bid to fulfil growth expectations

Rudi Asseer
Rudi Asseer is the president and CEO of Ottawa-based IMI. File photo

With his Ottawa-based firm poised to play a central role in fitting up Amazon’s massive new fulfilment centre that’s now under construction in Barrhaven, Rudi Asseer has a lot on his plate as 2020 draws to a close.

At nearly three million square feet, the e-commerce giant’s new warehouse will be the largest industrial building in the National Capital Region once it’s completed. But Asseer, the president and CEO of mechanical installation company IMI, had a much bigger number on his mind Wednesday afternoon: 100 million ​– as in the dollar amount of total revenue he believes the company will bring in over the next 12 months.

IMI works with global powerhouses such as Amazon, Walmart and Under Armour to install technology such as robotics and conveyor systems that automates the shipping and fulfilment process. The local company’s team of technicians puts the pieces in place to ensure that a customer’s online purchase gets off the shelf and onto a truck in a manner of minutes.

“We’re building the hubs of distribution centres that are getting products to people around the world,” Asseer said. “That’s a really cool thing.” 

Asseer, who joined IMI four years ago, has steered the enterprise to new heights as skyrocketing e-commerce sales have triggered a flurry of new warehouse construction. 

$90M-plus in revenues

When the pandemic hit, IMI’s services were suddenly in greater demand than ever before. The company is on pace to bring in more than $90 million in revenue in 2020, the highest total in its 22-year history, and Asseer predicts 2021 will see it crest the symbolic $100-million mark.

IMI says it’s the largest mechanical installation company in North America, providing about 2,500 workers to dozens of job sites each year. In addition to its Ottawa headquarters, where it employs about 50 people, the company has operations in Grand Rapids, Mich., Nashville and California.

But Asseer isn’t content with what he calls IMI’s “steady” pattern of organic growth over the past few years. 

M&A push

Under the CEO’s guidance, the firm is set to embark on an aggressive M&A effort that will see it target “like-minded” partners that offer complementary services such as project management and facility maintenance. Asseer says IMI is already in talks with three potential acquisition targets and hopes to close its first deal in the first quarter of 2021. 

But buying companies requires a hefty financial warchest. To that end, the former Forty Under 40 recipient says he plans to take IMI public down the road as a means of raising fresh capital, although he wouldn’t provide a specific timeframe. 

“Our biggest constraints are liquidity,” Asseer said. “I think that going the IPO route will certainly help us grow.” 

In the meantime, Asseer and the folks at IMI have plenty of work to keep them busy.

“There’s a massive effort around the modernization of distribution facilities,” he said. “If you’re not modernizing your facility, you're not going to be able to keep up to the people that are clicking. Our sales pitch has always been, ‘You build it and we will install it.’”