Who we are !
Since September of 2000, Westburne has been a part of the Rexel family. Rexel is based in France and operates in four geographical areas and in 37 countries. Rexel's over 28,000 employees work in over 2,100 branches. With 2011 sales of over 12.7bn Euros, we are one of the largest electrical distributors in the world.
But where did Westburne come from? Like many other companies in Canada, Westburne's roots can be traced back to the oil industry in Alberta. The name Westburne first appeared in 1959 when John Scrymgeour and his partners merged Commonwealth Petroleum Ltd. and General Petroleum of Canada to create the Westburne Oil Company Limited based in Calgary, Alberta. Mr. Scrymgeour ran the company well into the 1980's before his retirement. Known as a friend to employees he was a great benefactor to the arts. "The Westburne Collection" he began in 1975 would come to be known as one of Canada's great corporate art collections. The collection toured Canada in 1983. At its height the collection consisted of over 155 works by Canadian painters. Today many of these works can still be seen at a variety of our branches across Canada. In 1999, the Main Gallery of the Dalhousie University Art Gallery was named the "Scrymgeour Gallery". Mr. Scymgeour died in 2003.
It wasn't until 1963 when its first tentative venture into Canadian wholesale distribution began with the acquisition of Saillant, a large plumbing distributor in Quebec. It was during this acquisition that Westburne's name evolved to United Westburne Industries Limited. Westburne was now an oil drilling contractor and a distributor of plumbing products! Over the decade more plumbing distributors were acquired.
The early 1970's began Westburne's move into the electrical side of the distribution market. Companies across Canada were acquired. A partial list includes names like The Lighting Centre, Alberta Electric and Central Electric. In Ontario acquisitions included MacDonald Electric, Haldane Electric and Hussey Electric. Amesco Ltd. was acquired in Manitoba and Van Horne Electric in BC. By mid decade Westburne had established itself as a national plumbing and electrical distributor. The decade was caped when Nedco and Zentronics were acquired from Northern Electric. Now Westburne not only covered the entire nation but was a major force in most markets!
While this growth was going on, the oil drilling business of Westburne continued. The drilling group had a presence all over the globe including the Middle East, Far East, North Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, Canada and the North Sea. But the distribution business kept growing and finally in 1988 the oil drilling component of Westburne was sold to Nabors Industries. All of Westburne's energy was now focused on the plumbing, electrical and electronics distribution business.
Growth of the distribution business continued during the 1980s. Ruddy Electric Ontario was acquired in 1988. HVAC distribution was added with the acquisition of Frontier and others. Then for the first time Westburne began to make acquisitions into the United States. In 1987, Westburne began its first experience with foreign ownership when controlling interest was taken by Dumez Inc. of France.
Dumez continued ownership in Westburne until 1996 when the company's name was changed to Westburne Inc. and control of the company was again Canadian based with its stock listed on the TSX. In the '90s acquisitions continued all over North America. From humble beginnings Westburne now had over 5,500 employees serving more than 150,000 customers from 521 branch locations.
In 2001 after the acquisition by Rexel, all non electrical parts of the business were sold to Wolseley Investment of Great Britain. Westburne was now solely an electrical distributor participating in the commercial, institutional, Government and residential markets across Canada.
Today Rexel is a publically traded company trading on the Paris Bourse symbol RXL. Westburne Canada is a part of Rexel Canada Electrical Inc.