Diversified became CI’s 2016 Integrator of the Year in part because they proved to be a bold company unafraid of making major moves that would help it get closer to the goal of building the industry standard.
As chairman and CEO Fred D’Alessandro told us in the hours immediately after Diversified made another major acquisition last week by adding CompView to the family, “It’s never been about being the biggest. [The company’s flurry of acquisitions] has been about being the best.
“Revenue is great, but that’s really not the focus. It’s about the best possible service for our customers,” he says.
Even though Diversified moved into the silver-medal position as the industry’s second-largest integrator behind AVI-SPL, D’Alessandro and CompView CEO Scott Birdsall, who’ll now run Diversified’s western region, say this deal was made to help both companies achieve that goal of unmatched customer service across the U.S. and around the world.
“We both realized we’re so much stronger together,” says D’Alessandro, who began talking to Birdsall and CompView founder PaulWhite about two years ago. “The fact we integrated so well with [Technical Innovation] allowed this to happen.”
Birdsall was amazed that “about 80 percent” of the companies’ culture and philosophies overlapped and that made the decision to sell to Diversified easier for him. The acquisition adds eight offices to the Diversified family, most in the western U.S. but also in Arkansas and Minnesota.
“Clients want a footprint that can be supported in all of their areas,” says Birdsall. “The child is growing up and going to college. This has been a long, educational process.”
D’Alessandro says he’s learned what characteristic and philosophies make for the best acquisitions for Diversified and CompView was right in its wheelhouse.
“We’ve crafted a criteria of what companies would fit and why,” he says. “It’s more about the process than making people believe in the process.” The increased focus on growth through acquisition came because “customers have an appetite for working with a single company globally,” he says. “We’re fulfilling what our customers are asking us to do.”
Speaking of the global view, CompView was one of three founding members of the Global AV Partnership, along with Unified AV and Digitavia last year. Birdsall says he hasn’t talked to the other partners about the future of that organization yet.
“We’ll still use partnerships for the global side,” he says. “The partnership will grow and will have to adapt. Clients want a footprint that can be supported in all of their areas.”
Diversified works with “limited key partners” when it comes to its global outreach, says D’Alessandro.
“Where we go in the future is just being discussed,” he says.
D’Alessandro is proud of Diversified’s ability to assimilate companies as large as Technical Innovation into its family, and he says that comes from a willingness to try new things if they help the business and its customers.
“We look and listen to the other side and we’re willing to adopt their systems and policies if we think they’re better than what we’re doing,” he says.