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Glacier buys into Iron Solutions

Glacier Ventures International, owners of this web site and several of Canada’s major farm publications, has bought an equity stake in online farm equipment marketing company Iron Solutions.

Specific terms of Vancouver-based Glacier’s investment weren’t disclosed, other than its joint purchase of a 90 per cent stake in Iron Solutions in partnership with New York software investment firm StarVest Partners, Spring Mountain Capital (also of New York) and Philadelphia’s Dublin Capital Partners, for a total investment of US$15 million.

StarVest’s stake alone is worth US$8.5 million, that company said in a release.

Current investors in St. Louis, Mo.-based Iron Solutions, which also runs offices at Saskatoon and Outlook, Sask., will keep a 10 per cent stake in the company and its core management group will continue to operate it.

Glacier’s Farm Business Communications division, publishers of Country Guide, Canadian Cattlemen, Grainews, the Manitoba Co-operator and Alberta Farmer Express, had signed a development agreement with Iron Solutions earlier this year for a one-stop combined print and web-based advertising option for ag equipment dealers in Western Canada.

Iron Solutions last year also formed a strategic alliance with NetSuite, one of StarVest’s portfolio companies, to integrate NetSuite’s “lead-to-quote” order management capability with Iron Solutions’ data and online products, to deliver expanded offerings to ag equipment dealers and manufacturers across the U.S.

StarVest, for its part, said this deal marks its expansion from investment in the “software-as-a-service” industry to the “data-as-a-service” industry. “Iron Solutions is a perfect example of the tremendous value generated when data is coupled with technology,” general partner Larry Bettino said in StarVest’s release.

Iron Solutions provides market data for over 4,000 North American farm, outdoor power and construction equipment dealers and auctioneers as well as banks, other lenders, insurers and government agencies.

Iron Solutions and Winnipeg-based Farm Business Communications said in January that their development agreement calls for beta-testing of a new system this year with five dealerships. The system would allow dealers to enter equipment for sale into Iron Solutions’ Iron Search system, setting up an online equipment listing as well as print advertising for Farm Business Communications’ retail advertising papers, The Big Dealer and Wheel and Deal.

The two companies said they expect to be able to offer the service to all dealers in Western Canada by the end of this year and aim to set up a similar service in Eastern Canada.

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