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The Zaf Group’s Mike Zafirovski On Why ‘In Perpetuity’ Ownership Is Driving ACP CreativIT Acqusitions

Steven Burke

The Zaf Group founder and executive vice president of ACP CreativIT Mike Zafirovski says his investment firm’s “in perpetuity” ownership plan has provided family run solution provider businesses with an alternative to private equity backed buyouts.

 The Ephiphany That Led To ACP CreativIT’s Fast Growth Buildout

When Mike Zafirovski was acting as an executive advisor for private equity behemoth The Blackstone Group he had an epiphany.

“The epiphany I had six years ago was that I was making decisions to simply optimize the short term returns (of companies),” said Zafirovski, the former CEO of Nortel Networks and a 47-year technology veteran that held high-level executive positions at Motorola and General Electric, in an interview with CRN. “So the initial thesis for The Zaf Group was to acquire several well-run family businesses and keep them in perpetuity. So they will be around 50 to 100 years from now- after my lifetime. We are in the business of identifying companies that are well run and that the most strategic players would love to buy.”

That epiphany led to the creation of The Zaf Group, which has made four solution provider acquisitions over the last five years that have established ACPCreativIT- the umbrella company- as one of the fastest-growing national providers in the country.

“We have quadrupled (the size of the business) since we made the first acquisition,” said Zafirovski, founder of The Zaf Group and executive chairman of ACP CreativIT, reflecting on the journey that has put ACP CreativIT on the map as a $300 million solution provider powerhouse. “Half of that has come from acquisitions and the other half from organic growth.”

The latest acquisition came in July when ACP CreativIT added Versatile Communications, a 28-year-old Hudson, Mass headquartered solution provider to its roster.

The Zaf Group and ACP CreativIT’s mission to preserve these solution provider businesses “in perpetuity” working hand in hand with the founders is resonating with solution providers, says Zafirovski, who emigrated from the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as a teenager and became a much sought after technology executive.

“Private equity firms would also have loved to buy ACP,” said Zafirovski. “But there was a level of hesitation (from ACP) because there was a concern that they would get absorbed and a lot of the cultural values that brought the company to this point in time would disappear. There was also concerns that if you sell to private equity the business would get reconfigured and sold off as quickly as possible.”

The Zaf Group’s long term focus is paying off for owners and customers, said Zafirovski. “I believe the long term commitment to employees and customers is a recipe for significant success,” he said. “This is an employee first and customer first organization.”

 

 
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