Schaumburg, Ill.-based Convergint Technologies has made several acquisitions in Canada recently, demonstrating its expansion geographically and in its scope of services. Professional Security Canada spoke with Greg Taylor, Convergint’s vice president of Eastern Canada operations, who has full P&L responsibility for Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces, about these acquisitions as well as the company’s solid growth.
PSC: For those who may not know, can you tell us a little about Convergint Technologies?
Taylor: Convergint was founded by Dan Moceri and Greg Lernihan in 2001, and it was founded upon the principles that they created and call the “10 Values and Beliefs.” Those 10 values and beliefs are the genesis around how we go to market as an organization here in Canada, as well as around the world. It’s all about the people. We are product-agnostic and that center value of belief — where we want to be your best service provider no matter what industry or business you’re in — really drives our thought process around how we go to the end users and where we add value.
It’s about finding people with the right attitude, the right kind of approach to their work, and their ability to form really good teams. We’re really big on the values and beliefs and it’s something that we’ve translated into everything that we do in Canada.
Canada was the first country that Convergint expanded to in 2002 with the acquisition of iNet, based in Calgary. But up until 2013, we were always in Western Canada.
PSC: How long has Convergint been operating in Eastern Canada?
Taylor: Convergint is very big on national accounts, not only now in North America but around the world. What brought us from Western Canada into Eastern Canada is some of those national accounts. When you think about Toronto, it’s really the financial and business center for a lot of the business that’s done in Canada. And so, continually, Convergint was pulled from Calgary into Toronto to do work for some very large, strategic accounts.
In 2012, we brought a colleague on for a location in Ontario and it kind of grew from there slowly until the acquisition later on in 2013 of FSC in Ottawa, Ontario. FSC does a lot of government work. It’s based in Ottawa but had a small office in Toronto so the colleagues from Convergint in Toronto merged with the colleagues in the office in Toronto and that’s how we got going in Eastern Canada.
PSC: Describe the two companies that Convergint acquired recently and the strategy behind those acquisitions.
Taylor: H&E Comfort Controls, based out of Windsor, Ontario, is now going through the process of becoming Convergint Technologies. The other one is TACanada, which we acquired in July 2016. They are based in Mississauga, and have an office in Brantford, which is just outside of Toronto.
Both of those organizations, H&E as well as TACanada, are about 70/30 in their split — 70 percent building automation, 30 percent security. They give us a really good capability to do what we do across Canada, which is that mix of building automation as well as security. While our focus will continue to be very strongly on security, we wanted to bring that mix of building automation to widen our portfolio of services that our customers are asking us for.
Part of our discussion with end user relationships and the end user customers that we talk to, they’re really going wider and deeper and saying, “How do I get a return for the investment that we’re making on the systems?” And we’re finding, specifically with the customers who want this mixed approach, they’re really looking for one solutions provider that can provide both services.
PSC: What are the markets served by Convergint in Canada?
Taylor: When we talk about the national accounts we’re talking about not necessarily the retail side of business. It’s more the global enterprise customers. Historically, the Convergint business is very large in oil and gas. We have a lot of the energy companies in Western Canada and a lot of the pipeline companies, as well. But in addition to that, we’re getting into healthcare, large colleges and universities, and what we would call the BOMA building — the large corporate enterprises, the very large towers that you’d typically find within a downtown core of a city. We’re getting into places like destination shopping centers, as well, where they have very high-end retailers, simply because they’re becoming very complex in their video requirements.
Very attractive to us, as well, is critical infrastructure — electrical utilities, gas utilities.Pharmaceuticals and even food processing are becoming extremely interesting markets.
We’re also very heavy in government. Part of the FSC acquisition [makes us] a very large government contractor. One of the things that we’re in the process of deploying is leveraging the “Convergint Government Services” tag that we have in the United States; bringing that into Canada and building off of the great work that that first acquisition, FSC in Ottawa, was able to hold for us.
PSC: Can you outline a few keys you see in creating a successful acquisition?
Taylor: Convergint looks at three things very specifically.
What is the market in which the potential acquisition is playing? Is there an alignment with what we’re currently doing so that we’re not getting into a market that is completely separate?
What is that potential acquisition’s market reputation? We do a lot of research: How are they viewed in the market space? Are they really good at installs; horrible at doing service; do they have a good reputation with their customers? How do their competitors see them?
What’s the corporate environment like? How do the current owners of the prospective company view their colleagues; how do they treat them? What’s the turnover rate at the organization? Because we really have two tenets of those 10 values and beliefs that are so important to us. That central one around “We want to be your best service provider” really sums it up for us. In addition, it’s all about people. If you don’t have good people, everything is lost. You can’t be the best service provider.
PSC: What is behind the growth that Convergint continues to see?
Taylor: Some of the observations are that our double-digit growth is driven by acquisitions. A lot of that, though, is giving us what we call geographic density or skills competency.
I always like people to know that while we do make a lot of acquisitions to help us geographically, most of the growth is really driven just through our organic relationships with the customers. We don’t have a lot of customer attrition. We’re winning those customers. We’re serving them in a way in which they continue to buy from us and continue to grow with us as we grow. Because we have deep customer relationships, they’re asking us to continue to expand and grow in our services as well as with our geographic locations.
PSC: When you have time off, what do you like to do?
Taylor: I actually like to spend a lot of time with my wife. We have a lot of fun together. I have four boys, and we spend time just as a family on outings, traveling.
PSC: Do you have a favorite quote?
Taylor: I kind of live by the rule, “I had a bad day once, didn’t like it, decided not to repeat it.” It’s everywhere I go. It’s on everything I do.