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ICS Buys Unified Networking Solutions To Better Secure Clients

‘I think there’s a huge opportunity for larger MSPs including us to inorganically grow through acquisitions,’ says Kevin Blake, ICS president and CEO.

ICS, a provider of IT managed services headquartered in Endicott, N.Y., has acquired Unified Networking Solutions (UNS), a provider of IT products and services, of Raynham, Mass.

The Unified acquisition was the first one of this year for ICS, the seventh one in its history, and the company plans on at least three more this year, Kevin Blake, ICS president and CEO, told CRN. The company, a portfolio company of private equity firm ClearLight Partners, doubled in revenue from 2019 to 2021 and plans on doing the same in 2022, he said. ICS serves more than 500 customers, primarily in the manufacturing, healthcare and professional services verticals.

With the acquisition of Unified, ICS now has about 165 employees, having gained 18 from Unified. Unified provides managed services, build out services and IT consulting services. ICS is a traditional MSP, providing IT managed services, cybersecurity, cloud migration and other project-based services, and hardware and software reselling for small- to medium-sized organizations.

“I think there’s a huge opportunity for larger MSPs including us to inorganically grow through acquisitions,” Blake said. “I think we’ll probably go a little slower than some, but we should close a minimum of three this year. I’m probably getting three to five opportunities a week to look at.”

Blake said cybersecurity is one of biggest challenges facing his customers today.

“For a business owner today, they have to trust who they’re making their technology decisions with,” he said. “It’s overwhelming. It’s not an easy time. The cybersecurity vulnerabilities are real. You hear about it every day in different businesses being attacked.”

Blake said the budget that businesses spend on cybersecurity is not replacing something else, it’s expanding their existing IT budget.

“Understanding that and getting ahead of it is hard, particularly hard for smaller companies,” he said.

Blake said that ICS takes its time with their clients to understand what their needs are and to address those issues.

“It’s not a transactional relationship,” he said. “We look to understand their business, what their risk is, we look to design solutions, and build out five-year roadmaps to really explain to them the reasons why we’re recommending what we’re recommending, and what is required.”

Blake said the toughest part about being a CEO in 2022 is the labor issue.

“Post-pandemic this new labor force is hard to navigate, but you have to embrace it, and understand that there’s going to be more turnover, people are moving around more,” he said. “I love watching people grow in the company, but I understand that’s not true for everybody these days, it’s kind of changed a little bit. Shifting to understand that and embrace that and celebrating when people leave.”

Some of the main vendors that ICS partners with include ConnectWise, Datto, IT Glue and Auvik. Blake said the company is expecting to see most growth with Datto and ConnectWise in 2022.

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