Midwest Market Blockbuster: Arlington Computer Products Is Merging With Camera Corner Connecting Point


Two of the most respected family owned solution providers in the Midwest, Arlington Computer Products (ACP) and Camera Corner Connecting Point (CCCP), are merging in a deal that creates a new solution provider superpower.

The blockbuster deal creates a combined company with $160 million in sales and 250 employees with small medium business (SMB) to enterprise reach. The combination makes ACP and CCCP among the top partners for HP Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Dell with offices in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Atlanta and London.

[RELATED: Training, Collaboration, Growth Bring Arlington Computer Products Dell Technologies' Partner Of The Year Award]

It also brings together two of the top CEOs in the business: Arly Guenther, who founded ACP 34 years ago and has built it into a $100 million Fortune 500 focused powerhouse, and Rick Chernick, who took the helm of the 65 year old family run CCCP 34 years ago and transformed what was a camera store into one of the top IT providers in the Midwest.

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Together the two companies have more than 100 years of family ownership heritage with more than $3.5 billion of IT and audio visual solutions under their belts.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but the two companies will retain their current names and offices.

ACP CEO Guenther and ACP President Scott Dunsire will oversee the combined entity working closely with majority CCCP shareholder and CEO Rick Chernick- who will continue to run CCCP.

Chernick along with his wife, Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Chernick, and son President Ryan Chernick will all continue in leadership roles running CCCP and will be significant shareholders of the new company.

The controlling shareholder of the combined company will be The Zaf Group – which is run by former Nortel and Motorola CEO Mike Zafirovski and his wife Robin.

With the Zaf Group backing, ACP and CCCP are eyeing the acquisition of additional family owned solution provider businesses. That focus on family owned businesses is central to the Zaf Group growth strategy.

CCCP CEO Chernick, who will join ACP’s Board of Directors, said the deal ensures that he and his family can maintain the rich 65 year old CCCP customer and employee legacy through the merger with ACP. "The Chernicks are not leaving," he said.

In fact, Chernick said the deal opens the door to new solutions opportunities for CCCP customers and lucrative new opportunities for employees and his family

"We love our customers, employees and vendors," he said. We were not going to sacrifice that. I didn't have to sell. I made the deal because I feel this is the right time and the right group of people to really take the business to another level. We couldn't do that on our own. Right now is the perfect time. The market is good. Our business is booming. We have great people. But with this deal we really have an opportunity to have some fun."

Chernick said the key to success in the current market landscape is driving significant scale. "We are always looking at what we can do different to thrive," he said. "I have been in this long enough to know a lot of resellers that aren't here anymore. You have to adjust your business model to be successful in the future. This allows us to retain everything we have worked so hard for and at the same time get scale."

Chernick said the deal makes the combined company one of the top HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise partners. "What that means for customers is better service and support and the ability to take better care of them," he said.

Chernick said one of the appeals of the merger was working on the buildout of the business, including potential acquisitions of other family owned businesses with ACP President Dunsire- a former HP and Hewlett Packard Enterprise channel chief that worked closely with CCCP for more than a decade."Scott and I go back a long way," said Chernick. "We have similar ways of doing business day to day"

Dunsire, for his part, said the deal is a case of one plus one equals four, opening the door for dramatic sales growth for both companies. "We aren't done," he said. "Beyond the tremendous organic growth, we are going to look for opportunities to expand even further with acquisitions where it makes sense. This is the first of many deals. Scale is important for our customers, employees and vendors."

ACP says in 34 years in business it has completed $2.5 billion in solutions with 500 customers served and $100 million in annual revenue.

CCCP says in 65 years of business it has completed more than $1 billion in solutions with thousands of customers served and $60 million in sales.

Buffalo Grove, Illinois headquartered ACP and Green Bay,Wisconsin. headquartered CCCP have little overlap in terms of customers and market focus.

ACP has primarily focused on the Fortune 500 so the CCCP deal opens the door for big potential sales growth in SMB managed services, public and private sector and the audio visual solutions business where CCCP has established a dominant position with its Crestron partnership.

As for CCCP, the deal gives the SMB solution provider standout more enterprise clout with new vendor partnerships with Dell and Palo Alto Networks along with the ability to take advantage of a world class ACP configuration center for national and even international rollouts.

"This is a game changer for both companies," said Dunsire. "There is no overlap in the customers we do business with today. This gives both of us the ability to have additional solutions conversations with our customers. We're both getting bigger with more scale and technical certifications so we can cross sell and up sell. This is one plus one equals four. I can't tell you how excited we are to be bringing together two of the best, longest standing solution providers in the business."

Dunsire noted that he recently had a conversation with a customer that wanted ACP to provide audio visual solutions for 600 conference rooms. "We couldn't do that deal before," he said. "Now we can. There are additional practices that each one of our organizations has that the other doesn't."

One of the keys to the deal is the similar cultural characteristics of the two family owned businesses, said Dunsire, who noted he has worked with thousands of partners and there are simply no two better matched solution providers with shared commitment to customers and employees.

"We take care of our customers, employees and vendor partners," said Dunsire. "That is our mantra. There are a lot of great solution providers but how many have you seen that are 65 years old and 34 years old that are still profitable and still investing in the community? Not many. This is a great story for our customers, employees and vendor partners."

Chernick said the culture of both companies is based on always going above and beyond to drive customer and employee satisfaction. "Everything we stand for at CCCP, ACP has the same thing," he said. "It's all about taking care of your customers and employees no matter what. We all go into shops – no matter what kind of store it is- and you know when the management team isn't in the game because their people don't care. They hang on the telephone or ignore you. They don't call you to say thanks for the business. We do things right. We let our customers know we love them. If you make selling and working with your customers and vendors a good time it really isn't work."

Chernick stressed that CCCP's customer, employee and community commitment will not change under the merger. "We are going to sustain the things that have made us both successful which is taking care of the customers, employees and staying within the community so the community continues to feel the love from the company," he said.

Chernick said there is a lot of emotion that he has packed into the business over 65 years starting working side by side with his Dad and now his son. "Ryan has told me he wants his son to work in the business," said Chernick. "With this deal that is now possible. I want my kids and grandkids to be part of this. We are building something that will allow both of these companies to continue to go on for many, many years. We are laying the foundation, securing the people that we have and letting them know they have a home for a long time. If anybody has emotion in this it is me. This is all I do. This is my life beyond anything else. Our customers and employees know what we stand for and we are going to continue on with that long after I am gone. We are excited to have this opportunity."