Sale of Viceroy Homes could benefit Mississauga HQ, says president

Daniel Fox, president of privately owned modular house builder Viceroy Homes, faced a two-year hiring freeze and sluggish prospects at his company under its former Russian owners.

But now the company has been sold to a Canadian buyer, making Fox more optimistic about future growth and potential expansion at its Mississauga headquarters on Dundas St. E.

“We’ve basically been languishing in the last couple of years,” Fox told about Viceroy’s previous Russian owners, Open Investments.

“We’ve had some decent performance but it’s not like when you have an ownership group that is prepared to be focused and invest in the business.”

The company, based in eastern Mississauga, was sold by Open Investments last week to Canada Wood Frame Solutions Ltd., a company based in Western Canada owned by finance, wood frame homebuilders with global interests and experience.

Before the recent sale, Viceroy was on the auction block for a year, which Fox said made it very hard to make big decisions.

“It was more business as usual and everything gets put on hold,” he said. “Now that those handcuffs have been lifted off of us, we get to go forward in a more normal, healthy environment.”

Part of that change is the end of a two-year hiring freeze. “Now at the very least, I’m in the position of hiring new employees as opposed to sitting on my hands,” he said.

Fox said the business will continue to be run out of the Mississauga office and will only involve the new owners when it comes to new international contacts. “But it will be us that will deal with them directly and execute any opportunity there.”

In a recent statement, Fox said Canada Wood Frame Solutions “is committed to Viceroy Homes’ growth strategy in the existing core markets of North America and Japan, and their global experience is also uniquely positioned to help us accelerate our recent success in the massive Chinese market.”

A few years ago, Moscow-based real estate company Open Investments offered $4.25 a share for Viceroy. Open had done business with Viceroy wanted to cash in on a potential boom in quality, pre-made housing, which is highly coveted in Russia because of rising personal wealth and the development of mortgage lending.

“We are considering ways of expanding into [the] middle class segment of the out-of-town property market,” Sergey Bachin, general director of Open Investments, said in an interview at the time.

Viceroy is a seasonal business that employs 250 people, with 15 at its head office on Dundas St. E. and about 50 currently at its manufacturing plant in Port Hope, east of Toronto.

The company designs and manufactures modular, panelized, pre-engineered custom home packages for both owners and builder clients and professional contractors.

Its packages include windows, doors and flooring and other materials needed to build a house and are sold across North America and Asia.

Founded in the mid-1950s, the company also operates a manufacturing plant in British Columbia.



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