Arrivals + Departures has announced a new ownership structure it says will enable it to remain independently owned and operated for “years to come,” with founder Paul LeBlanc selling his majority stake to longtime leaders Mike Bevacqua (from left in main picture), Martin Delaney and Daniel Tolensky.
The three become operating partners in the agency, which has grown to 60 employees across its offices in Toronto and Halifax. Delaney serves as president and chief strategist in Halifax, with Bevacqua as president in Toronto, and Tolensky as chief financial and operating officer, also based in Toronto.
The three have amassed more than 40 years of combined experience with the agency, with Delaney joining in 2003, followed by Bevacqua—who helped open the Toronto office—in 2008, and Tolensky in 2009.
“This was a difficult decision for Paul,” said Bevacqua of LeBlanc’s decision to sell his ownership stake in the agency he launched more than 20 years ago as Extreme Group. “It was his baby, and he had a lot of skin in the game and love for the business.
“We were the ones that were driving the day-to-day and it just made sense for us to take it over and for Paul to go out and do what he does really well, which is build businesses.”
LeBlanc created the agency in Halifax in 1997, but has not been involved in day-to-day operations since 2012. “I am deeply proud of Mike, Martin and Daniel, who have been instrumental in so many ways to the success of the agency,” he said in a release.
The past five years have been eventful for the agency’s three principals, including the acquisition of Blammo Worldwide and BlueBand Digital, and the subsequent rebrand of Extreme Group to Arrivals + Departures in 2016.
Bevacqua said the new ownership structure is aimed at securing Arrivals + Departures’ future independence “in a market where there’s room for great independent agencies.” Discussions about the three partners acquiring outright ownership of the agency have been ongoing for some time, but were paused when the pandemic hit.
“We were sorting it out, but then we said ‘Let’s just take a break and see what the world brings,'” said Bevacqua. Asked why now for the deal to be completed, he said that the agency has been experiencing solid growth and momentum.
“We believe in what we’re building and we believe in the independent agency,” he said. “We believe in having control of our destiny, and we believe in clients having more access to us and getting the benefit of our structure, and we also believe there’s room for better independent shops.”
He said that the agency has developed a “scrappy” mentality over the years that clients have responded to positively, providing the encouragement necessary for the three partners to make what he described as the biggest purchase of their lives. “We wouldn’t have taken this leap if we didn’t see the potential,” he said. “We may not be the most known folks in the business, but that fuels our fire.”