Beloeil, Quebec, and Van Wert, Ohio – In a major industry move, Demers Ambulances, a Quebec-based leader in the design, manufacturing, and distribution of ambulances in Canada, is merging with Braun Industries, Inc., a leader in custom ambulance manufacturing based in Ohio serving customers throughout the U.S.
In a press conference held to announce the merger, Demers and Braun officials emphasized the great synergy between the two manufacturers; both are third-generation family businesses with deeply-rooted family values, a commitment to safety and a passion for their people.
Innovation & Growth
The goal of the merger is to give both brands a larger scale for innovation and growth while continuing to build highly-regarded products for the EMS industry and customizing vehicles to meet the needs of their customers—which has been a hallmark of both brands. The terms of the merger were not disclosed.
Demers is the oldest continuous ambulance manufacturer in North America, with ambulances in service worldwide. For Demers, the merger helps the company realize its ambition of dramatically increasing its North American market share and compete on a global scale.
“We are very pleased with our progress in strengthening our presence and pursuing growth,” said Alain Brunelle, CEO of Demers Ambulances. “Partnering with Braun provides us the right opportunity to better serve and service our customers, strengthen our employee base, and enhance our capacity to operate and innovate in a competitive, global industry. Together, we look forward to growing the combined company and to meeting the industry’s needs with even better products and service excellence. Our joint goal is to build the best and safest ambulances in the market.”
Braun is a family-owned company that has been manufacturing custom, high-quality ambulances since 1972. For Braun, the merger provides an increased capacity to drive product enhancements, improve product value, and to better serve more customers across the U.S.
“The timing is right to partner with Demers Ambulances, a company that shares our values, spirit of innovation and commitment to quality and customers,” said Kim Braun, President of Braun. “As the family contemplated many growth plans for a successful future, joining another successful brand that creates value for our workforce and customers, was top of mind. With this merger, our employees, customers and dealers stand to benefit from over 100 years of combined experience.”
Braun Industries ambulances
Kim Braun will continue to lead the Braun brands and related operations, based in Van Wert, Ohio. Both companies will retain their own brands, identities, facilities and employees.
The combined company will be led by Alain Brunelle, President of Demers Ambulance, who will become the CEO for the merged companies. Brunelle states that “The goal is for us to become one great company!”
From Competitors to Colleagues
Under the new arrangement, Demers and Braun Type 1 and Type 3 ambulances will continue to be built in their respective plants in Beloeil, Canada and Van Wert, Ohio.
Over the coming months, production of Demers Type 2 vans destined for the U.S. market will be transferred from Plattsburgh, N.Y. to Van Wert, Ohio. Type 2 ambulances destined for the Canadian and international markets will continue to be built in the Beloeil, Canada facility.
Braun Industries facility in Van Wert, Ohio
Demers Ambulances facility in Beloeil, Quebec, Canada
Brunelle pointed out that by producing the Type 2 ambulances in Van Wert, the combined companies can take advantage of learning from one another and enhancing workflow and processes. It will also allow them the benefits of a bigger company, such as increased flexibility in workforce management and scheduling, and buying power for chassis and other materials.
“Our increased scale will provide for greater opportunities, leading to improved quality and delivery, all of which is a plus for the customer,” noted Braun.
Brunelle and Braun both stressed that managers, engineers and manufacturing staff will not be reduced under the merger but, instead, increased to help the companies grow and deliver more ambulances to more customers. Brunelle added that “this merger is about growing the business and enhancing our products, not about reducing staff.”
The merger was made possible by Clearspring Capital Partners, a Canadian private equity firm focused on growing mid-market companies, who led the transaction alongside Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), a global, long-term institutional investor.
Brunelle says, “We are doubling down on our business and are pleased that our partners, including our financial investors, Clearspring Capital Partners, are all focused on one, unified mission. There is tremendous value from our independent brands that we will continue, and we will integrate best practices offered by both manufacturing facilities that will ensure the safest and highest quality ambulances for our customers.”
With respect to the future, Demers Ambulances and Braun Industries management teams will meet to identify features and technology that can best serve the new entity’s customers.
Response from customers and employees alike has been overwhelmingly positive. “Last week we were competitors,” Brunelle said. “This week we are colleagues.” Both Brunelle and Braun also stressed that the “DNA” of both companies, their products and their employees will not change.
Assembly lines at Braun Industries, left, and Demers Ambulances, right
As part of its commitment to building the safest products they possibly can, in June of 2016, Braun completed rollover and side-impact tests on one of their vehicles.