PrintIT Reseller caught up with Pinnacle Group CEO Clive Hamilton as the company celebrates three decades in business
PrintIT Reseller (PITR): We last spoke 12 months after you had completed an MBO of the business you’d worked at for 23 years. So what’s happened over the last three years?
Clive Hamilton (CH): “Well, we’ve acquired a few businesses. The first acquisition we made after the MBO was Fast Technology Services, a business that specialises in IT printer hardware and related technologies. We bought it because there was a real synergy between both companies’ customer bases. They were a multi-brand organisation with specific expertise in managing large fleets of A4 devices. What we did was to align the business with our own so it offers the full Xerox portfolio but we also retained some A4 brands as well for continuity.
“We also purchased a Bristol-based IT reseller’s entire MPS customer base and wholly integrated that within our operations. Managed print wasn’t their core business and they wanted to ensure their customers received the best support so they can focus on IT solutions. We have migrated all agreements over to us and the door for network and IT services remains open, it was a good fit for us.
“Then at the end of 2017, beginning of 2018, we acquired Copier Mate, a Toshiba dealer based in South Wales.”
PITR: You mentioned acquisitions were central to your growth strategy, you now have three under your belt, are there any more in the pipeline?
CH: “Yes, very much so. I think mergers and acquisitions have to be an aim for any business that wants to grow. If you look at what we’ve done in the last four years, we’ve grown revenue by 50-60 per cent and grown our devices and services by a similar number. You can’t physically achieve that through organic growth alone.
“We’ve been in the same business for 30 years and have largely served the same customers, to grow you have to be able to expand your offer. One thing that acquisitions bring is another portfolio of products that you can cross sell to your customer base.”
PITR: Have you been specifically engaging with businesses outside of the print arena to enable you to increase sales within the IT solutions and services space?
CH: “Yes we have, we’ve looked at a couple, but not had any success to date. It’s a different sector, a different industry, it just takes a little longer to do. What we have been doing, is partnering with HP and Xerox for their solution-led portfolio products. In the interim that’s the path we will continue to take, until we can get the right people to offer those services ourselves.”
PITR: Is the DaaS and SaaS model gaining traction with your customers?
CH: “It’s a bit of a slow burn but we are seeing some success. We’ve grown turnover from £3.8 million to £6.5 million in the last four years. If we had bottomless pockets we’d throw a lot more into this to get more coverage, but you can’t do that in the real world. What we’re trying to do is go to our existing customer base, engage in a new conversation and make them aware of the ‘as a service’ offer.
“I think the biggest challenge is because buying as a service changes the way that the majority of businesses have worked and made decisions on buying things like laptops, mobile phones and PCs. Generally, customers like it, but we’re finding that they may have just made or are halfway through a current deal and obviously need to sweat the asset cost for another two years before they can make any decisions. So we’re picking up piecemeal wins at the moment, for example customers who have hired a few more people are trying the concept out, with a smaller number of products.
“That said I think there’s a huge opportunity in the public sector, where budgets continue to get smaller, DaaS could help government agencies achieve a huge technical leap forward, without having to spend capital upfront. For us, it’s about getting the message out there and at the moment that’s what we are focusing on.”
PITR: What’s your take on the current market?
CH: “There’s a lot of uncertainty, largely because of Brexit. Everyone has to work harder and smarter, just to stand still.
“On the other hand, with new technology innovations, things are rapidly changing in our marketplace, in our sector in particular. I think most customers, either existing or new, really have an appetite to know how these can help them. You have to work harder and develop something from nothing because of that uncertainty, but on the other hand emerging technologies such as VR and AI, gives you the opportunity to have some really good conversations. Overall, the market is tough, but it’s also exciting!”
PITR: 30 years in business, that’s something to shout about. What do you have planned to celebrate?
CH: “We’re doing quite a lot. From a business perspective, we want to embrace new technologies and innovate, to show customers how they can leverage new opportunities in their businesses. So we’re offering clients complimentary document audits and assessments, as well as workflow assessments. We’re offering our customers these assessments so they can understand why we’re changing as a business.
“We’ve also got some events planned for November and January. We will have a panel of experts talking about new technology, AI, DaaS and all these wonderful things that people want to learn about, so that’s going to be exciting.
“We will also be doing much more with our charity partners. We’re quite busy on the charity/community projects over the next 12-15 months. For example, I’m doing the 75th anniversary D-Day landing memorial cycle ride – which is 300 kilometres in three days across the landing sites, on behalf of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.
“This year we’ve picked a local charity Geraint Richard’s Trust which is raising awareness, while supporting the rehabilitation treatment for Geraint Richards following a near-fatal asthma attack at the aged of 11 years old. We think it’s a great trust that does a lot of good work to raise awareness to schools, parents and clubs to show that asthma can be dangerous if left untreated. We also work with Ysgol Ty Coch (see box out), Woody’s Lodge who provide an inviting meeting space for veterans of the armed forces, emergency services and reservists to re-engage with life, their families and their communities.
“Next year we’re doing our own challenge, climbing the Three Welsh peaks and cycling between them. That’s for the NSPCC Cymru, Woody’s Lodge, and Tenovus Cancer Care. We are also celebrating with our 31 staff, we have had a summer boat trip and we have a family picnic planned in Cardiff, for staff and customer families. There is a lot going on – business is good!”
Charity golf tournament
Pinnacle welcomed customers, partners and generous supporters to its annual golf tournament at The Vale Resort in June and raised £4,623 for Ysgol Ty Coch, a 3-19 maintained special school in Tonteg, Pontypridd.
Head Teacher David Jenkins said: “We are completely overwhelmed by the support we have received from Pinnacle and all other companies/people who supported the annual golf day. The £4,623 will be put to exceptional use. We are currently trying to install a new sensory/immersion room. The room has interactive walls and floors, sensory lighting and smells, state of the art audio and visual equipment all of which can be controlled by pupils regardless of their physical difficulties.”
CEO Clive Hamilton added: “The support we received for this year’s event was phenomenal! From players to sponsors and on the day assistance from Ysgol Ty Coch and The Vale Resort. Without the continued support and enthusiasm for our charity events, we would not be able to facilitate such a fantastic fundraising event and we look forward to a bigger and better golf day next year!”
The company is already in the planning stages for next year’s event which will be held on June 18.