Avtex Integrates Acquisitions To Form Full-Service Solution Provider


Avtex Solutions, a solution provider owned by the same family which owns the Minnesota Twins baseball team, has recently sharpened its mission focus after finishing the integration of several recent mergers and acquisitions.

Avtex, which started in the 1970s as an application and systems integrator for messaging centers and call centers, has transformed itself into a full-fledged solutions provider with the ability to cross-sell a variety of technologies to its customer base while improving its ability to win new deals, said Bob Denman, president of the Minneapolis, Minn.-based company.

The new focus on complete solutions came thanks to several acquisitions over the past few years followed by the realization that there was synergy to be realized by bringing the different parts together, Denman said.

The building of a full-solution VAR came about because of the decision of the Pohland Family Companies, a Minneapolis-based company which owns the Minnesota Twins as well as companies in the banking, financial services, commercial real estate, retail, automotive, and entertainments industries, to also invest in IT.

The Pohland Family Companies' first move was in 2006, when it acquired Inetium, an integrator of Microsoft applications such as SharePoint and Exchange. Two years later, Pohland acquired Avtex, which in 2009 acquired Delta Networking, a Waukesha, Wisc.-based Cisco networking and WAN optimization solution provider.

However, it was only in 2010 that the decision was made to combine Avtex and Inetium into a single company, Denman said.

It was during the merger process that Avtex decided to make yet another acquisition, that of Convergent, an Apple Valley, Minn.-based solution provider with expertise in storage and Microsoft Unified Communications solutions.

Convergent had long been in the storage industry, and its major vendor partner was Compellent, which last month was acquired by Dell.

"John (Dusek, president and owner of Convergent) had a strategy to do more with UC, which fit our strategy," Denman said. "We also noticed his relationship with Compellent. Over the years, it was great that we could do call centers and related jobs, but we also saw the need to do the infrastructure 'plumbing.' We had the full Microsoft and Cisco infrastructure offering, but not storage. With Convergent, we got a one-two punch, with UC and Compellent. John really brought us to the big leagues with storage."

Convergent's UC expertise complemented that of Avtex, which prior to acquiring Convergent focused on the UC platform from Indianapolis-based Interactive Intelligence. Convergent brought Avtex expertise with Microsoft Lync, which Denman called an enterprise voice platform with collaboration capabilities across all Microsoft's applications.

Thanks to the Compellent connection, Convergent also makes Avtex a Dell solution provider.

"Now we're going to market with the infrastructure and the managed services business more than in the past," he said. "So we'll be doing more go-to-market activities with Dell. But it's probably a little too early to say how we'll change."

Now that Avtex has unified its different parts into a single company, it is currently focusing on cross-selling its various technologies to the different parts of its customer base, Denman said.

The company's next step will be to take its expertise to customers into new geographies, and look for possible new acquisitions to build out its portfolio and customer base, he said.

Avtex's new identity as a full-service solution provider will also come in handy when dealing with the rest of the Pohland Family companies, including the Minnesota Twins.

"Part of Pohland's strategy was to invest in companies to support their IT," Denman said. "Part of the job of the CEO of Avtex has been to educate other parts of the Pohland portfolio about the capabilities of Avtex."