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Family-owned Mesa Crest Water Co. sold to Liberty Utilities after years of negotiations

Family-owned Mesa Crest Water Co. sold to Liberty Utilities after years of negotiations
Family-operated La Cañada Flintridge water retailer Mesa Crest Water Co. has been sold to Liberty Utilities (Park Water) Corp., according to Mesa Crest officials. (Getty Images)

On Monday, ownership of the family-operated La Cañada Flintridge water retailer Mesa Crest Water Co. was transferred to Liberty Utilities (Park Water) Corp., following years of negotiations over a purchase agreement, according to Mesa Crest officials.

The agency was incorporated in 1956 by Matthew P. Flynn and eventually handed down to his son F. Patrick Flynn and later grandsons Timothy and Thomas Flynn, who jointly negotiated this week’s acquisition.

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The privately held company currently provides imported water to 706 local residential customers and the La Cañada Flintridge Country Club.

Four years ago, the brothers began looking for a larger company to take over the business, citing strict state water regulations and the rising costs of infrastructure improvements as primary reasons for selling.

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“It’s hard for any small, individually owned utility in California to do the necessary capital improvements that are required on an annual basis with a small clientele,” Timothy Flynn, president and chief executive of Mesa Crest, said Monday.

“It’s just too much for us to handle as a two-man operation,” he added.

Liberty Utilities provides regulated water, wastewater, natural gas, electricity and other utility services to more than 750,000 customers nationwide as a subsidiary of Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp., according to Chris Alario, president of Liberty Utilities California.

Three years ago, the Flynns accepted Liberty’s bid to acquire Mesa Crest’s assets.

The La Cañada retailer will be consolidated into Park Water Co., a subsidiary of Liberty Utilities, whose regional headquarters is based in the city of Downey.

Already, customers are receiving mail inserts and notices regarding the ownership change.

Alario said that while the Mesa Crest’s infrastructure is in good working order and has no deficiencies, his company will consider and apply the same replacement-and-renewal process it would for any system of advanced age.

With the possible exception of increases in purchased water costs trickling down from wholesaler Foothill Municipal Water District, a formal rate change is not up for consideration by the California Public Utilities Commission until Liberty files its next general rate case in 2022, according to Alario.

“There are a couple of costs that are not within our control,” he said of the La Cañada area. “[But] my gut feeling is we’re not really forecasting a rate shock up there.”

Under the purchase agreement, Timothy and Thomas Flynn have been hired to full-time positions with Liberty and will work in operations capacities.

Timothy Flynn said it was important for his family to ensure the business was placed into capable hands.

“We’ve run a tight ship and a good company for 63 years, but I could see the writing on the wall,” he said, calling the acquisition bittersweet but necessary. “The Flynns’ concern has always been to make sure the customer is taken care of.”

For more information, visit libertyutilities.com or call (562) 923-0711.

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