Carousel: Growing MSP, Network VAR Expects More M&A in 2011
On Monday, we told you about Carousel Industries’ acquisition of OmniPresence, a video conferencing expert. Carousel has acquired seven small tech businesses since 2009 — each worth anywhere from $5 million to 25 million — and has grown steadily since its founding in 1992. I caught up with Carousel Industries CEO Jeff Gardner to talk growth strategy, acquisitions, software development and to learn about the overall strategy that has brought the company so much success over the last two decades despite Gardner’s own admission that Carousel is “not great at marketing.”
Carousel’s success has much to do with its reputation within the industry. Over the last two decades, the company has earned certification/partner status with Avaya, Juniper Networks, Extreme Networks, EMC, Polycom and Microsoft. Credit can also be attributed to the time and thought the company puts into its acquisitions. To begin with, Carousel is not interested in acquiring what Gardner calls “project companies” — ones that need a new direction before they can become valuable partners. Instead, Carousel pursues acquisitions after determining how much each side will benefit from the merger.
“We try to acquire companies that make geographic and technical sense and will help us offer more services to our clients. We also want to help the acquired companies generate more revenue themselves,” said Gardner, who called the Acquisition of OmniPresence a win-win situation. “We’ve been partnering with them for about a year and a half and we see an opportunity to increase revenue on both ends.”
Without a doubt, said Gardner, Carousel’s best asset is its group of technicians that have helped the company grow from a single Rhode Island-headquartered cabling company in the early 1990’s to a technology solutions provider with more than 23 offices in the United States that offers over 65 different programs, including data infrastructure, unified communications and speech applications. “Companies are attracted to us because we are a single-point company with a lot of different services,” he said.
Another main reason for Carousel’s steady growth is its focus on customer retention. Mainly through surveys, the company solicits regular feedback from its over 5,000 clients about which services are working for them, which are not and which they would like to see added to Carousel’s service. Most recently, said Gardner, Carousel contracted an outside firm to conduct phone interviews with 50 of the company’s top clients like Bank of America, Travelers, Revlon and CBS.
In 2011, Gardner expects to see the same steady 25 percent to 30 percent growth that it has enjoyed every year, on average, since its founding. And its most loyal client base, said Gardner, will be the key. “They give us the greatest opportunity for growth,” said Gardner. “We need to show them all of the services we provide and everything we can do for them.”
Don’t expect Carousel to stop its acquisition-trend just yet. The company is already searching around for potential companies to acquire within the security space, as it falls into its plan to develop storage and virtualization in the coming year. We’ll keep an eye on which small business Carousel targets next and update you as the company continues its growth and expands its services.
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