Inside Verrex’s Neverending World Tour

Published: 2015-10-29

“Thanks for coming in for this interview.”

“My pleasure.”

“Your technical background and experience are exactly what we need.”

“That’s great.”

“I see you have an M.B.A. from Harvard. Impressive!”


“But more importantly, how good are you at sleeping on airplanes?”

“Well, I, um … What?”

Whether or not that question is actually asked in Verrex Corporation job interviews is difficult to tell. President, CEO and chairman Tom Berry Jr. is at least half joking when he emphasizes the importance of certain employees having that enviable ability, but travel is serious business for an integration firm with a fast-growing global presence representing over 20 percent of its $37 million in 2014 integration and managed services revenues.

“Part of our global strategy is having the ability to travel around the world,” Berry says. “Some people that can’t sleep on an airplane can’t imagine going to Asia three or four times a year. We joke that we’re going to fall asleep on the airplane before takeoff and they’ll have to wake us up when we’re landing. That allows us to hit the ground running without being affected by jetlag.”

There’s a bit more to Verrex‘s global strategy than finding employees who can sleep on planes. That’s one characteristic, albeit a quirky one, in a strategy that’s extremely nuanced and increasingly successful.

Will Travel for Clients

The first thing to know about Verrex’s decision to go global is that it never made a decision to go global. The Mountainside, N.J.-based firm has had a significant global presence for about six years. Do the math and one wonders why that was a good time to expand business globally.

The decision Verrex made and continues to make, says VP of global sales Bill Chamberlin, is to listen to its customers. At that time U.S.-based companies — and about 90 percent of Verrex’s business is in the corporate market — were increasingly opening facilities overseas. They wanted the same level of support and system design that Verrex had provided domestically for their operations abroad, so the integrator set sea to support its clients.

Verrex Corporation
Primary Location: Mountainside, N.J.
Regional Offices: Boston, Houston and Shanghai
Principal: Thomas Berry Jr., president, CEO and chairman
Years in Business: 68
Employees: 130
2014 Total Revenues: $37M (Integration & Managed Services)
Revenues (2015 Projected): $40M (Integration & Managed Services)
Number of Commercial Installs Last Year: 186
Top 3 Markets: Corporate, Higher Education
Top 5 Brands: Samsung, Sharp, Crestron, Extron, Cisco

“Rolling it out in the headwinds of the global recession, we took our lumps,” Berry says. “We lost money. An investment was made heavily in 2010, 2011 and even into 2012.”

The lumps piled up when in 2012 Verrex shuttered its U.K., Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo and Singapore offices as part of a restructuring process.

Verrex continued to recalibrate its global model and “continued to push,” Berry says, “because that’s what our customers needed us to do. While we found it difficult to roll out a global model, it’s what we needed to do. So you stick with it. You persevere. You survive.”

Then the perseverance paid off, as Verrex announced the opening of an office in Shanghai in early 2015. It’s projecting $40 million in 2015 integration and managed services revenues, which is a giant leap for the nearly 70-year-old firm, a perennial Top Corporate Market integrator since the CI Industry Leaders coverage launched in 2012 when it reported $12.75 million.

“We still have our ups and downs, but the reality is that the foundation was put in place,” Berry says. “We’ve been able to execute a global model successfully, profitably and to quiet satisfaction. Two things are always important — we’ve got to make sure the customers are satisfied, and you’re always in the business to make money. I have a responsibility to 130 families. When things are going tough, that’s what keeps you up at night. When things are good you want to make sure everybody benefits.”

Unique Company Culture

Verrex’s global strategy is a hands-on one, as embodied by VP of global sales Chamberlin’s frequent flier miles. His travel peaked when the firm was establishing its global presence six years ago, setting up operations in Europe and Asia.

“Back then I did about 250,000 miles per year,” he recalls. “I was going out to Asia on a monthly basis [and] hitting Europe on an annual basis.”

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Tagged with: Verrex

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