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Canadian company that times Ironman World Championship sold to investment group

Ottawa-based Sportstats is one of the world's largest sports timing companies

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

Over the years I worked at so many events with Marc Roy and Isabelle Fradette that they became close family friends. Our kids played together on the beach when we worked at Run Barbados. Roy and I used to take turns feeding the printer (for finishers certificates – his job) and the fax machine (for press releases – my job) at Ironman Canada in the 90s. Whether it was Roy, Fradette or any of the other Sportstats timers working with me at an event, I knew that we were going to be getting accurate and quick results.

Roy was such a fixture in our lives that our youngest son was still learning to talk when he welcomed Roy to our house with the words (in his best attempt at a French accent): “I am this close to packing my chips and leaving!” (He had heard Roy yell that sentence in frustration at so many events.)

Roy also serves as the course director for Ironman Mont-Tremblant.

Our family watched Roy and Fradette work tirelessly at events across North America as they built the company that is now called Sportstats World and is arguably one of the world’s premier timing companies. Sportstats times all the Ironman events in North America, along with many other major international events.

Roy and Fradette had started working for Sportstats in 1994. The company was then owned by Terry McKinty, and at the end of the year, McKinty offered to sell them the company. They took over in 1995. At first there were 40 events – now there are some weekends in June when the company times that many races. Before the pandemic ground racing to a halt, the company was timing upwards of 1,300 races a year. In 2019 the company timed over two million athletes.

Last week we learned that Sportstats World has completed an “internal sale to an investment group led by its Director of Operations and lead timer, A.J. Mousseau and Grand Rapids-based Carbon River Capital.”

“Selling the company was a big decision, but we know it’s the right decision,” said Roy. “We have poured our hearts and souls into building this business and after thirty years we are proud of what we’ve accomplished and the legacy we’ve created and are excited to see where the new owners will take the business. We have worked with A.J. for the past ten years and are confident in his skills to bring Sportstats to the next level.”

“It’s emotional, but good,” Fradette continued. “It feels like a baby that has grown up and is leaving the house.”

Ironman and Sportstats sign three-year deal

Roy timed his first Ironman race in Penticton in 1997. The company then became a mainstay at Ironman events in North America, and became the official timers for the Ironman World Championship in 2004. Over the years Sportstats expanded well beyond North America, creating offices in Thailand and Singapore.

Roy and Fradette won’t be leaving any time soon – they’ve committed to staying with the company for three years, but anticipate being involved for much longer than that.

“I don’t think it’s in my blood to go away,” Roy said. “I love what I do. It’s nice to step back and not have the pressure of running the company any longer.”

Mousseau has also been timing for a long time – he started a timing company in Grand Rapids, Michigan when he was 18. He started working with Sportstats in 2012.

True North Challenges

When the pandemic shut racing down around the world, Roy, Fradette and Mousseau found themselves scrambling just to keep the company afloat. They came up with the idea to create virtual races and the company they formed, True North Challenges, remains part of the business.

“We survived the pandemic because of the way we came together as a team,” Roy said. We created a virtual run company. We went on Dragon’s Den. We got the funding, and survived the pandemic as a team.”

“During the darkest days of the pandemic, the three of us were on a zoom call wondering ‘what do we do,'” Mousseau remembered. “The pandemic showed us that our team is adaptable.”

The goal now is to use that adaptability and “use that expertise in other aspects of the event industry,” Mousseau continued.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity to continue the legacy that Marc and Isabelle have built and to provide our clients with world-class service,” Mousseau said. “I look forward to building our brand, our services, and finding new and innovative ways for Sportstats to have a positive impact on the endurance sports community.”