CREO | Montminy & Co.'s Joel Montminy Discusses Produce and the Compass and Pacific Union International Merger
As Pacific Union’s exclusive financial advisor, CREO | Montminy & Co. oversaw the interests of the nation’s fifth largest real estate brokerage—and California’s largest private brokerage—throughout the transaction. I spoke with Joel Montminy, CREO | Montminy & Co.’s President and CEO, and a familiar face to ANUK readers, to learn more about the transaction, the parallels between the real estate and food industries, and CREO | Montminy & Co.’s extensive dealings in the produce industry—including oversight of the Total Produce-Progressive Produce transaction that saw the former company acquire a 65 percent stake in the latter in early-2016.
“I think of the parallels between this transaction and the Amazon/Whole Foods deal. Compass represents the best of breed in data and technology to support real estate brokerage services and Pacific Union is California’s market leader on the street,” Joel told me, remarking that, just as Whole Foods opted to partner with Amazon and pair complementary yet disparate businesses, Compass’s partnership with Pacific Union represents a similar trend in real estate. “We’re seeing similar consolidation, investment in new technology platforms, and hyper focus on customer efficiency transform the food industry.”
The acquisition of Pacific Union will see Compass’s combined operations grow to encompass more that 6,400 employees representing $28 billion in annual sales volume, as of 2017, bringing together one of the West Coast’s most successful premier real estate companies under the wing of one of the industry’s most dynamic technology companies.
Joel tells me that like grocery and real estate industries, produce is seeing a trend toward consolidation—with large companies looking to invest in smaller companies and use their leverage to grow both businesses at once.
“There are some parallels in produce, too, insofar as you’re seeing large international produce companies, with platforms that smaller, less diversified companies can leverage, picking up businesses. That’s what happened when Progressive Produce partnered with Total Produce—though that was less about technology and more about a distribution platform.”
Pacific Union, founded in 1975, was acquired by CEO Mark A. McLaughlin in 2009. Since then, McLaughlin has grown the company from $2.1 billion in sales volume to $14.1 billion in 2017, according to a Compass press release announcing the merger. Pacific Union has over 50 offices and nearly 1,700 real estate professionals throughout California.
Joel elaborated. “Compass is a Softbank-backed technology company that operates in the real estate brokerage business. Pacific Union and Compass had a complementary culture; both businesses were very entrepreneurial and highly-
In addition to its expertise in real estate and technology, CREO | Montminy & Co. specializes in investment transactions throughout all aspects of the food industry. The Los Angeles-based boutique investment firm has advised over 100 companies in the food industry—including nearly two dozen in produce.