When Diversified sent shock waves through the industry last month by acquiring Technical Innovation in one of the largest deals in industry history, there was a lot of talk about what they’d do next.
It didn’t take long to answer that question, since Diversified added The Systems Group in a much smaller, but certainly no less important, move that positions the growing parent company to expand its design service offerings and move more fully into higher education, entertainment and top-level corporate verticals.
“We’ve known each other for at least the last 15 years, and I’ve always viewed The Systems Group as best in class,” says Diversified chairman and CEO Fred D’Alessandro. “We’ve partnered on some projects and competed on others and there’s no doubt The Systems Group is a first-class competitor.”
D’Alessandro and The Systems Group principals Christopher Mehos and Scott Griffin started talking a couple of years ago about expanding their partnership or working together in new ways, but got a bit more serious about merging shortly after the National Association of Broadcasters show last April.
“We’ve been looking to grow and expand our reach into new markets over the years,” says Griffin, who will serve as an senior VP for Diversified along with Mehos. “There’s always been a mutual respect [with Diversified]. We weren’t sure if it’d be an expanded partnership or something more.”
The deal means The Systems Group’s customers now have access to the capabilities of not only Diversified but Technical Innovation, says D’Alessandro. That means the new company can offer those clients unified communications, managed services, command and control and remote monitoring, among other enhancements to their integration needs.
The Systems Group has prided itself on “expanding beyond typical silos for production,” says Griffin, meaning its emphasis on design creates solutions other integrators can’t offer. That “methodical approach to design” has made The Systems Group a $30 million firm with about 50 full-time workers.
Although Diversified and The Systems Group went head-to-head on a few projects, acquiring them was less about wiping out a local threat than improving Diversified.
“We’re not looking to take out our competitors,” says D’Alessandro. “Our clients need competitors to be able to judge us. Competition makes us work to be better.”
As with most deals, cultural concerns were critical for both sides.
“That was certainly something we were very concerned about in finding the right partner,” says Griffin.
D’Alessandro says he’s happy with the two recent additions to the Diversified family and doesn’t have any plans to add a third company to its 2016 acquisitions any time soon. This isn’t about being the biggest integrator in the industry, he says. He stresses the importance of service and consistency of service as key tenets of Diversified’s approach.
“Our vision is to create the best organization by bringing in the best talent possible. It’s not about the numbers or the size,” says D’Alessandro. “We have an opportunity to integrate three companies as one and get it right the first time, rather than trying to integrate one, then add in the other one a few months later. We’re focusing on integration and making sure our customers are feeling the quality and the results.”