Until recently, Paul Antle had been living two parallel lives: businessman and would-be member of the House of Assembly.
The provincial election on Nov. 30 didn’t go his way, but he did gain the benefit of more time for business interests.
“You know what? One door closes, three more open,” he said, speaking with The Telegram Monday.
“I’ve got a couple of deals humming in the background. I’ll pursue those and see if they are ones I want to take on and bring in under my umbrella,” he said.
“That’s just what entrepreneurs do. I don’t sit still.”
Antle has already taken a hard look at existing holdings, including West Mountain Environmental Corp., where he served as president and CEO for the past eight years.
The environmental services company specializes in treating hazardous and non-hazardous waste, offering approaches such as the use of a patented technology started in this province. The approach rids waste from both contaminated soil and industrial sludge, without any burning required. And the company says the process can produce reusable oil and natural gas.
As of Jan. 1, the reins of West Mountain Environmental are with Tim Mahoney, a longtime company consultant. Antle remains chairman of the board of directors, acting in an advisory role.
At the same time, he has picked up an additional 888,000 common shares (having already control of 6.4 million shares), saying the purchase is about confidence in the future.
“I believe in the company,” Antle said. “There was an opportunity for a big chunk of stock that was up for sale and I said yes, I’m buying in. I’m already fully invested — at one point in time I had 50 per cent, and then after a number of transactions I was down to about 20 and, most recently, with an investment from our Chinese partners I’m down to about 12 (per cent). I think this puts me back up to about 14 1/2 per cent of the public company.”
Antle was named one of the top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada for a fifth time in 2015 and inducted into the Atlantic Business Hall of Fame, in part for his work in establishing West Mountain Environmental projects in China.
In 2014, former prime minister Jean Chretien presented him with the Business Excellence Award from the Canada-China Business Council.
“It’s a great opportunity there,” he said of the Asian market, noting there were cases where a single cleanup contract — while taking more time to establish — eclipsed the company’s dealings in North America.
The potential for the future is backed, Antle said, by signed licences for the company’s technology in Southeast Asia, coming project bids and a board that includes two billionaire shareholders.
Sen. George Furey was a board member as well, until his appointment as Speaker of the Senate of Canada. It led him to resign from his board position, due to time constraints.
As for Antle, the move with West Mountain Environmental is akin to steps taken in six other operating companies — where he developed teams to take on day-to-day operations.
As for his newfound free time?
“I’m not going to fill it up immediately, because I want to do an environmental scan and see what’s out there and see what tweaks my interest,” he said.