Indigenous-owned company purchases Prince Albert Photocopier Ltd.

Pictured left to right: Geoff Gay, CEO of Athabasca Basin Development; Gary Merasty, CEO of Peter Ballantyne Group of Companies; Dan Fenton, founder of Prince Albert Photocopier; Kevin Aebig, CEO of Optek Solutions; Ron Hyggen, CEO of Kistaki Management -- Submitted photo

An Indigenous-owned investment company says their new acquisition of a Prince Albert business is a “step towards increased Indigenous participation” in the local economy.

IT Services company Optek Solutions LP has announced the recent acquisition of Prince Albert Photocopier Ltd (PAP) in a move that CEO Kevin Aebig describes as “historical”.

“It seems kind of like blowing things out of proportion, but in my mind it was a very important first step to work together,” Aebig said. “It’s gone extremely well, their experience and capabilities within each of their organizations has been a huge asset as we’ve grown.”

Optek was started by Athabasca Basin Development, Peter Ballantyne Group of Companies and Kevin Aebig in 2021. Kitsaki Management joined ownership in June of 2022 as part of the deal to acquire PAP. The company provides IT services, support and solutions to organizations of all sizes across the province.

According to Aebig, Optek started out as business analysis and eventually turned into a conversation between the different organizations that expressed interest in working together. 

“As these conversations progressed, it turned into something that was feasible, that actually had some legs,” he said.

Aebig said the opportunity to acquire PAP has opened up doors for Optek.

“It was important for us because our ownership groups are established in the north of Saskatchewan and it made sense for us to look at moving into that area of business,” said Aebig. “Because PAP has been around for quite some time, their experience and history made them a very good fit. As the conversations kind of proceeded, it was found that there were a lot of synergies between the two companies.”

PAP is a full-service IT solutions business and long-standing Ricoh Canada dealer serving the central and northern Saskatchewan market and is considered the market share leader in the area. PAP collaborates with customers of all sizes and complexities to help determine their physical and digital infrastructure requirements to optimize their operations and simplify the management of their IT systems.

“As a group, we are very excited to work together to acquire PAP and build on the excellent foundation established nearly 30 years ago by Dan Fenton and Carolyn Fenton,” said Geoff Gay, CEO of Athabasca Basin Development and a representative of the ownership group. “As investors, when we looked at PAP, we all saw a successful, established business and we look forward to supporting the company as it continues to provide excellent service to their customers.”

Dan Fenton, founding principle of PAPS, plans to stay on during the company’s transition.

“Athabasca Basin Development, Kitsaki Management, and Peter Ballantyne Group of Companies are three very successful Indigenous-owned investment groups based here in Saskatchewan that collectively own over 35 businesses, including an IT Services company whose leader has decades of experience in IT,” said Fenton. “Carolyn and I felt this was the right group to take good care of the company and help take it to the next level.”

PAP currently has 16 employees and will be headed by Aebig once the transition is complete. 

“This is a very exciting opportunity for everyone,” said Aebig. “PAP is a solid, established business with a strong track record of providing service to a huge geographical area.

“PAP is a growing company in a growing sector and the focus for all of us is in taking care of customers and employees and continuing the spirit of the legacy that was established. I look forward to working with Dan and the employees to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible.”