Apogee recently completed its first acquisition since its change of ownership to HP Inc. Michelle Ryder caught up with Chief Operating Officer Mark Smyth to find out more about how the move will strengthen its offering and support future growth plans
Michelle Ryder (MR): Prior to becoming an independent subsidiary of HP, Apogee was instrumental in channel consolidation, acquiring and integrating multiple independent resellers into its ever growing business – does the acquisition of Direct-Tec – the first one in a while – signal a shift in the business’ focus?
Mark Smyth (MS): The HP integration completed in November 2018, and since then we have been heavily focused on optimising our business and driving efficiency. The plan was always for Apogee to be a vehicle for growth in both the MPS sector and in other markets. We are now in a strong position, the timing for this deal was right and we are ready to consider further strategic acquisitions to drive growth both in the UK and in Continental Europe.
We are working on fully integrating Direct-Tec into our core business, there’s some great synergies between both our operations and some great people in the business as well, so it’s a really good fit. We are also delighted the directors are working with us to support the transition.
MR: Apogee has a strong heritage in managed print services and proven ability to develop and support higher margin services. With the acquisition, HP gained a significant channel partner – to what extent has this impacted on your legacy as an independent provider?
MS: Apogee remains very much an independent provider of managed services and we continue to work with other vendors. Becoming a part of the HP family was not so much about selling its products but about delivering shareholder value. We have built a stellar reputation on delivering the very best solutions for our clients and providing the right solutions for their workforce, at home, in the office and on the go. HP has a strong and varied portfolio, however that doesn’t mean we only deliver HP technology. HP doesn’t have a range across all clients’ requirements particularly when it comes to the above 60ppm and production print sector for example – HP devices are perfect for the office and home space.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘no IT manager ever got fired for buying HP’ but there are clients who for whatever reason want a different vendor’s product – if we’re not independent, we don’t have a suitable alternative, so we may as well be a vendor as opposed to an independent reseller. HP has incredible integrity, client and people focus and that’s now very much a part of the Apogee culture. Of course we’re results-driven and that means delivering world class technology and services to clients, resulting in long-term client retention – that delivers shareholder value and therefore we absolutely must maintain our independence.
MR: Direct-Tec is well established as an MPS provider, but it has also made significant in-roads within the managed IT market, presumably this will enable Apogee to expand its managed IT services offer?
MS: Absolutely, our core business is managed print services and we are targeting continued growth in that area, but we are also looking to develop and expand our offer with new additional services which includes managed IT services and outsourced document services.
We have comprehensive plans to penetrate those markets and from a position of strength, in terms of our resources, capabilities, where we sit in the marketplace and our existing client base. Direct-Tec has specific vertical market expertise within the education, healthcare, legal, charity and commercial sectors and a team of experienced Microsoft-certified staff delivering services within both the print and IT environments; the integration will both strengthen and support our strategy to deliver managed IT services.
MR: It’s been a tough year for everyone, how optimistic are you for the future?
MS: We are in a really good shape right now. We have a completely new leadership team comprising our CEO Aurelio Maruggi, myself as COO, Sales & Marketing Director Carl Day, and Paul Rylands, Director of Public Sector. We’ve got some specific growth plans and targets and some additional new services that will be coming online in the coming months.
We have continued to invest in our business to support our continued growth, and over the past 12-18 months we’ve made a number of specific investments in people, process and technology. For example we’ve invested extensively in technology within our managed service operations centre that provides remote support to all our clients and in our outsourced document services centres.
Our focus will remain on providing world class managed print services, combined with outsourced document services – demand for which has enjoyed a huge uptick during the past year and as I mentioned earlier, managed IT services. We will also continue to consider further strategic acquisitions to drive growth.
There’s a lot going on and there’s some exciting things ahead and we’re very optimistic for the future.