Connect NZ on acquisition trail

Connect NZ on acquisition trail

IT, document, voice and multimedia integrator Connect NZ is in acquisition mode as part of an aggressive three-year growth plan.

The privately owned company expects to turn over $50 million in the 2010-11 financial year (which began in April) and CEO Karl Rosnell says a healthy fund has been built up for acquistion purposes.

“We’re looking for companies that we can merge into our business model. It is a case of us going out and finding the right fit in the market whether it’s a complementary business or a new field that can add value to our customers and our brand.”

Rosnell says the company is eyeing a number of successful companies in the IT, telecommunications and audiovisual markets.

The company is also on a drive to build its resources and its workforce. It has 175 staff with offices in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

“We’re looking at continuing to invest in our intellectual capital of our people whether that is by hiring or by acquisition. We’ve continued to recruit heavily over the past two years and now the cloud of recession has lifted, we’re ready to play the game.”

The business has celebrated 31 years of operation and Rosnell says this has prompted it to take stock.

“We’re happy with the past 30 years but we need to be looking forward and innovating to get the next 30 years covered. Faxes and copiers are a slowly dying breed so we need to be working on new innovations to go out and service the customer.”

Founded in 1979, the company began in business consumables, adopting Panasonic fax machines in 1985 and becoming a Telecom dealer in 1990. It has since added other voice, document and IT vendors to its partnerships, including Microsoft, HP, IBM, Avaya and Shoretel.

Its future strategy includes development of managed services middleware, along with helping customers understand printing requirements, reduce printing costs and improve efficiency.

“I’m also open to the idea of having a new field that we’re not covering yet, which might take us to the next phase.”

There is no set time frame for an acquisition, as Rosnell says he wants to acquire a company with the right cultural fit. “We’re confident that we understand the basics of turning one dollar into three, it’s more about getting a cultural fit of people that buy into what we’re trying to achieve and want to do it.”

Rosnell was appointed to CEO on April 1, replacing cofounder Paul Williams who held the CEO role for a year. Both Williams and previous managing director, Brent Page are still active members of the board.

Nick Storey has taken Rosnell’s previous role of general manager, based in Wellington, with Rosnell moving to Auckland as CEO. Earlier this year it recruited former Insite general manager Jan Paterson to run its South Island business from Christchurch.

In addition to its Wellington sales office, Connect NZ opened an insurance and laptop/desktop repair centre in the capital last July which employs 20 staff.

Its Hamilton and Christchurch offices were refurbished recently, and Rosnell says there are plans to open a repair and insurance centre in Christchurch in the next quarter.

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