Carousel To Buy Atrion To Turbocharge New Cisco Practice

Carousel Industries plans to buy fellow Rhode Island solution provider Atrion to rapidly scale its nascent Cisco practice and become more of a one-stop shop for customers.

The Exeter, R.I.-based company -- No. 64 on the CRN 2016 Solution Provider 500 -- said that nearly three-fourths of its 6,000 customers use Cisco products, but until March were unable to procure them via Carousel. Atrion should be able to fulfill pent-up demand, as the company derives about half its $140 million of sales from Cisco and has a robust product and managed services practice around the vendor.

"This puts us in business [with Cisco] in a national way almost overnight," Jeff Gardner, Carousel's CEO, told CRN. "When we lose customers, we lose them to Cisco."

[Related: Solution Provider Atrion Networking Merges With Sister Company To Ramp Up Services Push]

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Building up a Cisco practice should allow its customers to take advantage of economies of scale and reduce the number of vendors they have to deal with, Gardner said. Carousel previously carried almost every major vendor other than Cisco -- about 50 in total -- Gardner said, but wasn't authorized to service the San Jose, Calif.-based networking company until March 1.

Existing customers of Warwick, R.I.-based Atrion, No. 196 on the CRN SP 500, will benefit from Carousel's deep ties to Aruba and Avaya in the networking and unified communication spaces, respectively, Atrion CEO Tim Hebert told CRN. The combined company also hopes to accelerate investments in the fast-growing firewall, threat management and access control security spaces, he said.

Post-merger, the company will carry all three major collaboration vendors -- Avaya, Cisco and Microsoft -- making it easier to support customers looking to migrate from one to another, Hebert said.

Terms of the deal, expected to close early in the third quarter, were not disclosed. The combined company will employ more than 1,300 nationwide and deliver $525 million of sales each year.

Both Carousel and Atrion said they've focused on shifting the sales conversation from IT products to business outcomes, and find themselves speaking more with line-of-business leaders rather than the IT department. Both companies said they've seen impressive growth in their cloud and managed services practices, with Atrion also citing outsourcing as a particularly robust area.

The Atrion brand name will be retained, though its workforce will be fully integrated into Carousel in the coming months. Gardner will oversee the entire operation; Hebert will continue to serve as CEO of the Atrion side of the business in the short run, but will likely transition into more of a shared role within the organization.

The two companies have minimal customer overlap, Hebert said, with just 25 of Atrion's 350 customers also doing significant business with Carousel. Both companies specialize in clients with 250 to 10,000 seats, and are strongest in the Northeast, Hebert said, though Carousel does 65 percent of its business outside the region.

Atrion's strongest verticals are higher education, health care, business services and community banking, while Carousel is strongest in the health care and financial services spaces, according to Hebert and Gardner. Becoming part of Carousel will enable Atrion to provide better in-region support to national clients based in New England or the mid-Atlantic states, according to the companies.

The deal will build on Atrion's January 2015 merger with sister company Atrion Corp. of Flemington, N.J., which Hebert said provided the Rhode Island branch with data center and cloud expertise that the company will be able to extend into Carousel's existing client base.

Carousel's data center practice was more focused on infrastructure, Hebert said, while Atrion offers expertise in data center compute, storage and virtualization with vendors such as Cisco, HPE, NetApp and EMC.