Matthew Lewis bought his first company in 2012 at the age of 32. He still owns it, along with three other companies, including one in the U.K.
Unlike other equity investment firms, Lewis’ company, Braidy Corp., doesn’t believe in the “buy, squeeze and flip” model. “Buy, hold and grow” is his motto – one that appears to be paying dividends.
“We started with revenues of several million dollars and it is now grown approximately five and a half times that,” Lewis said.
Born in Alberta and raised in the Lower Mainland, Lewis earned a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Victoria and then went to work for Roynat Capital, a small merchant bank subsidiary of Scotiabank, starting as an intern and working his way up to associate director.
It was his job to find companies that needed financing. In 2012, he decided to strike off on his own and bought his first business – TrendTex Fabrics in Port Coquitlam.
“I mortgaged my house to buy my first company,” said Lewis, who is married with three young children.
In 2016, he bought Richmond-based Custom Paper, followed by Menzies Metal Products in Surrey.
This year, he acquired a company in the U.K. that is in the same business as TrendTex Fabrics, and has integrated the two companies to realize $1 million in increased profits from economies of scale and operational efficiencies.
Typically, in a succession, a founder can sell his business to a competitor or a private equity firm. In either case, the business may get cut up or changed in ways that can negatively affect employees, customers and the founder’s legacy.
Lewis may make some minor changes to the business to improve profitability, but for the most part he tries not to overfix something that isn’t broken.
“It doesn’t align with me to just buy, squeeze and flip,” he said. “You’re not actually creating any value. You’re just being transactional – cutting up pieces and profiting for a short-term gain. That doesn’t feel like long-term value creation. That doesn’t really jibe with who I am.”
Where you live now: South Surrey
Highest level of education: Bachelor of commerce degree, University of Victoria
Currently reading: Principles by Ray Dalio and The Berenstain Bears
Currently listening to: Dallas Smith and Dean Brody
When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: Professional skier
Profession you would most like to try: F1 team owner
Toughest business or professional decision: Leaving the certainty of a corporate career for the uncertainty of business ownership
Advice you would give the younger you: Purposefully listen to the founders and managers of each business you acquire. You will gain a deeper understanding of their legacy, the business they have built and the future opportunities
What’s left to do: In the immediate future, it’s five days on the warship HMCS Calgary for the Canadian Leaders at Sea program. More generally, it’s continuing to acquire great companies and managing them for long-term growth
Join us to celebrate the 2019 Forty under 40 Awards on January 30, 2020, at the Westin Bayshore. For tickets and event information visit https://www.biv.com/forty-under-40