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EBM looks to acquire for growth

Michael (Mick) Bailey established EBM Managed Services in 2005. As a service engineer with over 25 years’ experience, his focus was firmly on creating a company that had excellence in customer service at its core – that philosophy remains as pertinent today as it was on day one

EBM quickly developed an excellent reputation for its exceptional service provision and just three years later, had grown exponentially. By 2008, it had expanded in size four-fold and occupied an additional three units on the same site – bringing its total square footage to 2,000 sq. ft. It was at this point that son Mark joined the business. In October 2014, he was promoted to Managing Director, succeeding Mick who has semi-retired, although he retains his seat on the board and continues to conduct the odd service call-out.

For the past four years, EBM has been transforming the business from a print-centric MPS provider to a managed service provider, and is now eyeing up acquisitions in the IT and telecoms space as the route to future growth.

The company serves SMEs – a sector that is moving away from managing IT in-house and instead looking to outsource to a dedicated service provider. In January 2017, it partnered with an IT company to build up its IT credentials, the collaboration was designed to allow EBM to provide comprehensive IT consultancy, support and solutions to its growing SME customer base.

“We’ve now brought IT back inhouse. Rather than collaborate, we’ve invested in our own team members and cross trained our engineers so that they now have the skillset to manage our customers’ IT, telecoms and print infrastructures,” Managing Director Mark Bailey, explained, adding: “We are very customer-focussed and approach each client contract independently, tailoring our recommendations to suit their needs and offering the very best levels of service we can. We now have a multitalented team and that means they can provide the very best customer service in the very best way.”

Opportunity ahead

Today, revenue is split equally across three key areas: MPS, IT services and telecoms. “We’re actively pushing to win across all three sectors,” Mark said. “And we see great opportunity ahead as SMEs are bringing staff back into offices. Many clients are looking to upgrade their infrastructure now. Lockdowns and the move to remote working really highlighted the fact that many had undervalued their IT, and that legacy out-of-date technologies were not fit for purpose.”

EBM kept business moving during the pandemic. The company moved staff to working from home just before the first lockdown and whilst some were placed on furlough initially, that only lasted for a few weeks. “That first four to six weeks were obviously interesting. Naturally print revenues dropped off, but IT and telecoms picked up. Then after eight weeks we got back to work, we actually bought a company – Electronic Office in Norfolk, and got our sales team back working on the pipeline. And that paid off massively. We grew 41 per cent last year,” Mark said. “We also made a number of new hires during the pandemic, recruiting people to run telesales,” he added.

The acquisition of Electronic Office – a traditional print reseller was a major move for EBM and one that has worked well. The company has grown its customer base 20 per cent in the past six months and presents multiple opportunities to upsell IT and telecoms. “Up until now our growth has all been organic, we have completed a number of smaller deals, but this one is the biggest to date,” Mark said.

Next stage of expansion

EBM is now geared up to embark on the next stage of its expansion. The plan includes hiring a new head of sales. “We are currently interviewing for a head of sales with a brief to grow the team – we are looking to add six new people and their role will be to win new business across managed IT and telecoms,” Mark said.

The company is also looking to complete further acquisitions to help deliver on future growth plans. Mick is currently busy prospecting for more businesses and is interested in talking to IT and telecoms companies, in particular who are looking to sell.

Mark said that the plan is to continue growing at a sensible rate and he expects new business to come equally across all three areas. “Print is not a dying market,” he said. “MPS will remain a key and core component of what we offer, but at the same time we will be proactively looking at IT and telecoms to enable us to expand wallet share,” he concluded.