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Merchants Fleet CEO to Retire in May

Published Wednesday Mar 13, 2024

Author Matthew J. Mowry

Brendan P. Keegan, chairman, CEO and president of Merchants Fleet, a fleet management company in Hooksett, announced he will retire from his leadership role on May 17 after more than 15 years with the company.

Keegan will remain Merchants Fleet’s third-largest shareholder. Brad Burgess, senior vice president of sales and marketing, and Kirk Hoffman, CFO, will serve as interim co-CEOs.

“Brendan has been a visionary leader, driving significant growth and has positioned Merchants Fleet at the forefront of the fleet management industry,” says Olof Bergqvist Merchants’ board member, and a partner at Bain Capital, an investment firm which acquired Merchants Fleet in 2022.  “His passion, energy, and commitment to excellence have left an indelible mark on the company.”

Under Keegan’s leadership, Merchants Fleet has grown to become the fourth largest fleet management services provider in the country with over $2 billion in assets under management and 175,000 managed commercial fleet units across North America. Keegan was instrumental in securing the partnership with Bain Capital in 2020, which initially invested $50 million in the company before acquiring it two years later. Keegan led the company’s move toward electrification of commercial fleets and securing reservations of 40,000 electric vehicles.

During the last five years Merchants has raised around $7 billion of capital, of which, Keegan notes, more than 75% has come from the biggest banks in Asia, Europe and Canada.

“We’ve grown from $500 million [assets under management] to $2.5 billion in five years. We’ve gone from being family owned to being privately owned and we have created a huge amount of jobs here in New Hampshire,” Keegan told Business NH Magazine in the January issue where he was profiled as one of the magazine’s 40 Influential Leaders.

Keegan, who was named Business NH Magazine’s 2021 Business Leader of the Year, was initially the company’s largest client, starting in 2009, before joining the board of directors and later serving as the chair of the compensation committee. In 2017, Keegan stepped in as a strategic advisor and interim CEO, and in 2018, he was named as the company’s third CEO.

At a recent dinner Keegan held for members of the media and influencers in NH and Boston, he says he was ready for change after a 33-year career (23 of which he served as a CEO for various organizations). He compares it to a car. “If you look under the carriage,” after 33 years, “you would be pretty worn,” he jokes.

When Bain Investments acquired Merchants, Keegan agreed to a two-year transition period before he would retire. He decided May 17 would be his last day as that is the day he graduated from college and is the anniversary of his first date with his wife.

He reflects on growing up in a family of six in a 900-squre-foot house in Nashua and sharing a room with his older sister who had Down Syndrome. He credits his optimism and resiliency to his sister. “She never had a bad day in her life,” he says.

Keegan says he lives by the mantra to have “the courage to fail and the faith to succeed.” He explains his vision for the future is “to instill fearless leadership in everyone.” He says retirement will allow him to focus on his goal is to create “one million fearless leaders,” through his newsletter, books, and coaching. He is writing a new book, “Dare to Disrupt,” that he expects to publish in November that will focus on eight pillars of transformation.

Keegan says he grew up in a family where volunteering and giving back to the community was an expectation. That inspired him and his wife to launch the Keegan Family Courage & Faith Foundation, setting a goal of giving $10 million toward youth education and athletic programs as well as efforts to assist at-risk youth. He says he will continue to focus on those efforts.

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