Investment and Divestment in Railway Firm: Case of Caltrax and Vada

Vada Capital divested of their longest held portfolio company in 2017. The story of growth and partnership is one we are extremely proud of and welcome you to learn more about in the following video and news article.
Caltrax Railway Inc.

In 2002 PDS Railcar Services was in receivership. Vada Capital, with management acquired the assets and Caltrax Railway Inc. was created.

Caltrax is an independently owned railcar repair facility in Western Canada. Vada’s work with the company is just one example of how Vada works with and for their partnerships. When Vada was considering acquisition, Jeff Robson, President of Vada Capital, saw an opportunity.

“It was apparent that there was competition in the field Caltrax worked in,” says Jeff Robson, CEO and President of Vada, “But often the competition didn’t have a strong base in Canada, so Caltrax could fill that niche area of need.”

Vada bought Caltrax out of receivership and during 2005-06, Vada sourced individuals who would improve the management of Caltrax. Al Tymensen and Derek Kissick joined Caltrax as Vice President of Finance and Executive Vice President Operations respectively.

“Vada is amazing for support if you’re struggling as a company,” says Tymensen,  “If you do the right things, and are going through tough times, Vada will support you, but they will also keep you accountable when things are doing well.”

Tymensen believes that Vada, under Jeff Robson’s leadership, has a great ability to encourage high performance while being understanding and supportive. For Tymensen, this is what makes Vada stand out as a private equity firm. In addition, Robson has a clear focus on the people involved in Vada’s partnerships. Human capital is a key component of Vada’s operations and Robson personally describes himself as ‘an average investor with great people skills.’ It is these skills that allow him to find the best people to support the initiatives and objectives within a partnership.

Over the course of a 15-year relationship with Caltrax, the team of Robson, Tymensen and Kissick brought Caltrax to a new level. In 2012 the company was administering around 600 – 800 repairs a year. By 2017 this number had nearly doubled to 1200 – 1400 repairs a year. It was at this point that Caltrax began exploring their options and the deal with CAD Industries came into the picture.

Tymensen comments on the process of the Caltrax sale, “Vada didn’t need to sell but chose to help Caltrax meet their goals. Vada had a team well versed in buying and selling, which helped to keep an even keel for people in Caltrax who hadn’t gone through it before.”

The expertise Vada contributed to the sale process meant that Caltrax was able to explore their options and find the best possible outcome for the acquisition. Vada protected both the managers and employees, informing interested parties that the people were priority and needed to be considered.

“I learned so much about accountability, development, and maintenance of good leadership,” says Kissick, “Define the vision and then support the people you have built the team around.”

In 2017 the sale was finalized and Caltrax became a part of CAD Industries. The team at Caltrax is still connected with Vada and both companies maintain a strong relationship.  Caltrax management agrees that working with Vada was and is a supportive experience, with accountability and a people-first mentality being the integral components for a long-lasting, successful pa

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