Dan McMurtrie, CEO of VESTA Modular, knew firsthand the tremendous potential for modular buildings in the marketplace, and he always wanted to take a chance on building something himself. Prior to joining Simon Group Holdings (SGH), Dan practiced law and became an in-house counsel for Champion Home Builders, Co. in Troy, MI. Shortly after joining Champion, the company was acquired by private equity investors and Dan assumed a role as Vice President and General Manager of the company’s commercial modular division – Champion Commercial Structures. At Champion, Dan’s group specialized in modular construction of hotels, single-family developments and workforce housing solutions in North America.
Dan was first introduced to Sam Simon, Founder & Chairman, in 2014 when Sam was looking for a new Chief Strategy Officer. Dan was intrigued by SGH and was captivated by Sam’s willingness to support new and innovative businesses. After a brief conversation, the basis of VESTA Modular was put in motion as Sam and Dan set out to create this new modular company. Though Dan had been in discussions with another investment firm out of New York, he found Sam to be what he was looking for – straightforward, sincere and a strong leader. In fact, Dan was ready to start the business five minutes after meeting Sam. He outlined a proposal and business plan to Sam and the SGH team, who endorsed it and signed on to begin doing business together.
VESTA Modular was established in November 2014 with two people and has now grown to 20 employees. The company owns and leases modular buildings nationwide to schools as modular classrooms, to companies like Lockheed Martin that need overflow office space or construction companies that need on-site offices, and as employee housing in oil-field boom areas like North Dakota and Texas.
VESTA is also able to create “man camps” to house employees in even the most remote areas of Washington’s Cascade Mountains and far-flung corners of Alaska. In addition to leasing, VESTA sells the units, which accounts for 50 percent of its business. It provides modular hotel room units to large hotel chains, which are assembled to build a fully functioning hotel building remarkably quickly and efficiently.
Like all SGH companies, VESTA is always seeking ways to enhance and grow their operations. In February 2017, VESTA purchased a bankrupt modular company, MSpace, which was headquartered in Salt Lake City, at a 363 Bankruptcy auction. MSpace was ten times larger than VESTA and this transaction significantly expanded VESTA’s footprint. This acquisition also gave VESTA the ability to sell unused modular inventory online giving an additional source of revenue. It’s an excellent example of how VESTA continuously seeks new ways to grow through acquisitions and synergies between SGH companies, including expanding into different countries.
From a start-up, venture-capital standpoint, Dan and VESTA received important back-office support, administrative help, health-insurance benefits, shared services (HR, IT) and continued strategic advisory guidance from Sam and the team at SGH. SGH helps provide due diligence and financing on new transactions. As VESTA grows, it is taking over more things internally, but from the start, the SGH team was – and continues to be – very helpful. Sam sits on the company’s board and is very involved with the business with Dan. All the investors meet quarterly to provide oversight.
As is typical with Sam and the SGH team, once you are under the SGH umbrella, you are part of the family of companies. Respect is mutual, and advice is always available. Cross-channel opportunities are always encouraged when it comes to helping other companies and team members within the investment portfolio.
Like all SGH companies, VESTA’s team works hard at giving back and helping communities in need with temporary housing and supplies. “Our business specializes in responding to emergency needs such as natural disasters, so we are unfortunately familiar with the challenges faced in these situations. We are continually blown away by the way Michigan businesses and agencies have step up to support those affected by catastrophic storms.”
VESTA a perfect example of how SGH provides vision, decisive action and cross-discipline thinking to investors and the companies it acquires. It fulfills Sam Simon’s philosophy and objectives that are based on all identifying the right people to work with, putting everything you have into making it work and delivering results and a successful outcome.
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