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Wajax’s Robust Q4 Results Set the Stage for 2024 Growth

The Canadian economy struggled in 2023, causing many companies to close their doors. Wajax, one of Canada’s longest-standing and most diversified industrial products and services providers, was not one of those companies. While others struggled to find their footing amidst high interest rates, inflation, and a tight labor market, Wajax stayed strong, ending the year with a solid financial performance that set the stage for continued growth in 2024.

“Our management team established a strong set of priorities for the year that acknowledged the economy’s key concerns, then focused on executing against those priorities,” explains Wajax CEO Iggy Domagalski. “As a result, we were not only able to gain ground, but also strengthen a foundation that will support growth for many years to come.”

Wajax has been the driving force behind Canada’s industrial landscape for over a century, serving a broad range of customers in diverse sectors of the Canadian economy by providing sales, parts, and services through an integrated nationwide distribution system. As the company’s CEO, Domagalski brings a passion for creating and growing businesses, nurturing leadership, and building communities.

“We create meaningful connections with our customers, taking the time to understand their needs and providing solutions that empower them to succeed,” says Domagalski. “That approach sets us apart and is central to what allowed us to succeed in a tough market where many others did not.”

Posting encouraging numbers in Q4 of 2023

Many key growth indicators showed an increase for Wajax in 2023, with basic earnings per share charting an impressive 19.1 percent increase, climbing to $3.88. Revenue increased to $542.6 million, representing a 0.2 percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2023, and its adjusted EBITDA achieved a significant 12.1 percent increase.

The company’s backlog, while showing a slight decrease for the final quarter of 2023, grew by 18.2 percent year-over-year — an increase that promises to support healthy performance in the near term as Wajax moves into 2024. Gross profit margin increased annually as well, indicating an excellent efficiency and product mix.

Growth in demand for engineered repair services (ERS) is a factor that Domagalski cites as key to Wajax’s recent strong performance.

“Our ERS platform is unrivaled in the industry,” Domagalski says. “It offers on-site, in-house, and in-the-field repair and maintenance services that allow our customers’ operations to run at peak performance. Regardless of the area where our customers are facing challenges, whether with hydraulics, electromechanical, or elsewhere, we can help them to develop and deploy reliable solutions.”

Strong ERS sales contributed heavily to a 15 percent increase in Wajax’s business in Eastern Canada during the last quarter of 2023. Overall, ERS sales increased by 43 percent over the same quarter last year.

Strengthening its position as a people-first company

Domagalski is quick to credit Wajax’s success with the stellar performance of the more than 3,200 people who make up the company.

“Our people are the heart of Wajax,” Domagalski says. “They are the ones who bring the resolve and the expertise needed to solve the complex issues we face internally and our customers face externally. Our strategy is to continue to invest in them so that we can continue to have the skills we need to get through whatever the future brings.”

One of Wajax’s core values is developing the potential and expertise of its employees, and the company strives to provide a dynamic and supportive environment that invests in initiatives that drive continuous learning and personal growth. Wajax made a major investment in its people in 2023 by hiring a Chief People Officer in a move designed to solidify its status as a people-first company.

“We made great progress in becoming people-first in 2023, including fleshing out our purpose and values and pushing them throughout the organization,” Domagalski shares. “We’re seeing the qualities that are most important to us lived out by our people on the front lines — and it is making a difference. Our job application levels have gone up and our attrition levels have gone down. Overall, we are seeing better quality people interested in joining Wajax, and those who are already a part of the team sticking around longer and being more productive.”

Pursuing more growth in 2024

Experts have yet to declare that Canada is out of the woods when it comes to its economy. Analysts expect any overall growth will be “sluggish.” Wajax, however, is moving into the year with a different expectation. As it showed in 2023, it knows how to grow even when facing economic headwinds.

“Wajax’s purpose statement is empowering people to build a better tomorrow, which we strive to achieve by living our values and delivering an exceptional experience to our people, customers, suppliers, and the communities we serve,” Domagalski says. “By living our purpose and values, we will continue to build a people-first company that is strong, resilient, and profitable.”

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