PROFIT_Lori_Van_Opstal Photograph by KC Armstrong

It often takes years to find the right buyer for your company. In Lori Van Opstal’s case, it took little more than a day last summer.

Van Opstal hadn’t been looking long to sell her 14-year-old employment agency for truck drivers, Cambridge, Ont.-based Your Advantage Staffing Consultants Inc. But upon learning that a larger rival—Protrans Personnel of Mississauga, Ont.—was looking to expand and admired her firm, she contacted a senior Protrans manager and planted the acquisition seed: Your Advantage would expand Protrans’ market and help it diversify.

Protrans’ CEO called two hours later, and presented a preliminary agreement the following day. A few months later, on November 24, the sale was final. “What took a bit of negotiation was ensuring that all my staff would keep their jobs and have their tenure recognized,” says Van Opstal, who prides herself on building a company that behaves like a happy, close-knit family.

Now, Van Opstal is mostly free to enjoy all the fruits of her entrepreneurial labour. (She’s also the majority shareholder in a trucking company stateside.) Running a successful business, she says, had opened doors to sit on the boards of various community organizations, which she plans to continue. She also hopes to write two books: one on building a niche business; the other on her grandmother’s childhood in a First Nations residential school.

Although Your Advantage was Van Opstal’s baby, she’s certain that she won’t regret its sale. “Their company was like a reflection of my company—they acted like me, talked like me and had the same spirit and integrity,” she says. “The CEO sat down with me and said, ‘Lori, you’ve built an outstanding organization here. I promise I will take good care of it.”’

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