History of maxill inc.

maxill inc. is a consumer and professional dental products company that was started and still maintains its head office in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada.  The founding year of the company was 1987. The company founder was John Shaw. The founder of maxill linked up with a couple of previous Oral-B sales executives in 1988. Nick Belviso, Greg King and John worked closely together for over 12 years in growing the maxill retail \ store side of the business.

maxill is primarily a “dental products company” as all of its products revolve around and are centered upon dentists and dental professionals or the consumer end use of dental products. The company has several core product categories that have allowed it to grow simultaneously in multiple directions within its main area of operations which are all dentistry and health care related. A diverse product line allows the company to market many of these similar dentist centered products throughout other horizontal distribution channels such as medical, hospital, military, police, EMS and veterinary etc..

What does the word “maxill” mean?

The word “maxill” comes from common dental terms such as; maxillary or maxilla. A “maxillofacial surgeon” is probably the most commonly used and related dental word that in some way ties the name of the company to the field of dentistry.

A “Flipped” Business Model

It is well known that many great businesses started out selling one type of product but ended up building the greatness of the company on a product they tripped over accidently along the way.  Nintendo started out as playing cards. Avon sold books. Wrigley sold baking powder. 3M sold mining supplies.  etc.

While maxill still sells today many of the products it sold 30 years ago, the “business model” of the company it currently employs was not even contemplated in the early years of the company.

maxill’s early years were 100% reliant on sales of toothbrushes and dental floss to stores such as food, drug and mass market retailers   As sales of the company grew, so did the requirement for investment capital to fund the expansions. Much of that investment capital came from dentists and dental professionals in the London and St. Thomas area. With this exposure to the “professional side” of toothbrushes and dental floss, maxill started to develop and market products for dental professionals based upon information from these early investors.

In the 1990’s, retailers consolidated. Fewer retailers meant more power being focused into fewer and fewer hands. These larger retailers started hammering and demanding money and terms from smaller companies such as maxill. Category Captains and store brand private labels were introduced more and more into retail. maxill did participate in producing Private Label dental products for some retailers but found the private label contracts to be money losing propositions at the very best. Despite the fact that maxill sales were exceptional, oral care Category Captains were recommending to Big Box retail to remove maxill products from the shelves in order to raise prices and cut down on consumer selection.

By 1997, the shift was in full swing for maxill to be out of retail and fully invested into the professional dental market. This decision not only saved the company from possible eventual extinction, but being pushed in this direction is mainly why the company is so successful today.

Note: maxill sells more toothbrushes and floss each year than the one previous. Much of it now online.  Who needs retail?

Initial Ownership Structure and Subsequent Financing of maxill

maxill has historically relied upon debt financing as the preferred financing vehicle to grow the business.

The first financiers of the company were the founder himself along with Larry Shaw, Morris Shaw and Dennie Shaw. All relatives of the founder.

The family members were gradually replaced by some monies received from “going public” as well as by many dentists from the London area debt financing the next stage of maxill growth.

maxill during its “public years” from 1992 until 2011 was technically an “Amalgamated Company” under the laws of Ontario, Canada.. On September 30th 1992, Ekersval Resources Ltd. ( former exploration company shell ) was amalgamated along with 2 other Ontario companies to form the maxill inc. company structure from 1992 until 2011. 

The London area dentists ( initial angels ) through the mid 1990’s were eventually replaced by the A.L. Klimmek Family Trust and by a private venture capitalist named Eric Sure.  Eric and KFT further backed the company when investment capital was required for equipment and product line expansion from 2000 to 2005.  

In 2006, another major injection of funds and long term financing agreement was finalized with private equity firm SMIC. This was a multifaceted agreement that contained debt, convertible debt and some elements of equity.

The company was taken private in 2011 due to the astronomically high cost of remaining a “reporting issuer”, no following from stock analysts and an overall illiquid market for maxill securities. This is a condition that surrounds thousands of smaller public companies. Not just maxill.   

In 2012, the company ownership is split in varying degrees between John Shaw, SMIC and other Private Equity interests.

The Future – There to Here to Over There

maxill started in 1,200 Square Feet of rented space at 280 Edward Street, Unit #17 in St. Thomas.  The office was 7’ x 13’, divided into 2 small offices. Small. The walls were naked cinder block and the single 8 x 10” shipping door was mostly 3/8” plywood.  A couple of coats of paint on the walls and door was the only insulation effectively.  Yes. It was very cold in the winter time.

1989 saw a move to 33 Laing Blvd. ( St. Thomas ) and the utopian free space of 7,800 Square feet. There was lots of storage space being rented in and around St. Thomas as well.   

2000 saw a further move to 80 Elm Street where the company resides today in over 100,000 Square Feet of Space.

2006 was the year of an Edmonton shipping center being commenced for Western Canadian customer service and logistics.

2010 was the opening of maxill’s own facility in Hong Kong for servicing the local Hong Kong dental professional and hospital market. Hong Kong also serves as an outward distribution point to the Asian region.

2011 is a joint venture in Jiangsu China for the production of oral care products, injection moulding, procurement and logistics within China and the Asian region.  

From 2012 on, maxill has an eight year expansion plan to 2020. The Private Equity interests in maxill focus on 5 and 10  years business horizons rather than what will happen next quarter.

Every year since inception, the company reinvests an abnormal amount of capital back into R&D and product development.  Such compounded investments in many varying product lines it is hoped will continue to pay off in the future as they have so well in the past.  

maxill’s customers are a demanding group that value their time and choose their suppliers and products wisely. The company envisions that the growth trajectory of maxill will further gain speed and additional traction in the years to come.

If you have any questions about maxill, please feel free to contact John directly at: johnshaw@maxill.com