Q&A: Cadet Manufacturing execs discuss agreement to sell company

Cadet Q&A

Cadet Manufacturing, a Vancouver-based heating products company, this week announced an agreement to sell the company to Glen Dimplex Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of electrical heating products, for an undisclosed amount.

The sale to Glen Dimplex, which is headquartered in Ireland, will be effective at closing later this fall. Cadet will retain its name, maintain its headquarters and employees in Vancouver and continue to be overseen by the existing management team.

We sat down with Dick Anderson, Cadet founder/CEO, and Hutch Johnson, company president, to discuss the decision to sell the company and what it means for the future of Cadet Manufacturing.

Q: What led you to determine it was time to sell the company?

Anderson: I have always felt that Cadet had a bright future with or without me. Being a pioneer and an entrepreneur, [building the company] has been fun, but it has also been a challenge – though a very rewarding one and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My family came to me about a year ago after I had given them a year’s notice; I asked them if they wanted to continue on [owning the company]. At the end of the day, their comment back to me was, “No, we think you’d better take the next step.”

Q: Why didn’t your family want to continue owning the company?

Anderson: There’s just two in the family that would have an interest – my daughter, but she’s retired now, and her son, but he has his own successful business, well established in the Seattle area.

Anyone who steps into my shoes really has to put the suitcase in the back of the car and not take it out of there, if you will. So their decision was that it just makes sense to put [the sale] together. This was the right thing to do. There are no losers here. If there is anyone with a tear in their eye, it would probably be me.

Q: So how difficult was it to ultimately make this decision, given that you founded Cadet in 1957?

Anderson: I had to ask myself many questions: Is this what I want to do? Then you say, what’s best for my employees? What’s best for the industry? What’s best for the family? What’s best for the customer? After all of these years, we have millions of heaters out there in the marketplace across the nation, and I came to the conclusion that the right thing to do now is to move on to the next chapter.

The decision [to sell] was actually pretty easy to make. They (Glen Dimplex Group) are the best in the world. They take the company, they leave it alone. They do anything they can to help make it grow.

Johnson: To follow up on what Dick (Anderson) said, a couple of years ago he (Anderson) asked me about a 15-year business plan. I looked at him and said I don’t know if I’ll be around in 15 years. He said that it wasn’t about us, it’s about the company. He really wanted to provide a future for the company after we’re gone and wanted a partner that would keep the company, needed the U.S. production and needed the talented people. This is a perfect solution.

Q: Looking ahead, how will being owned by Glen Dimplex Group strengthen Cadet?

Johnson: There are many other Glen Dimplex products we can bring into this market, so for us it will give us a bigger basket of products to sell… They have some innovative products that will fit right into some of the new codes and regulations in the United States for electrical heating.

Besides that, they have a global electric heat strategy and vision. It’s not just limited to the Northwest or even North America – It’s global. They’re looking at a bigger picture, so they can help us with our overall strategy.