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Sirius CEO To Continue At CDW After Acquisition Closes

‘We’ll figure that out as we work through integration. Integration takes some time,” Sirius Computer Solutions President and CEO Joe Mertens tells CRN.

Sirius Computer Solutions President and CEO Joe Mertens, who over the last 10 years built Sirius from a $767 million solution provider into a $2.04 billion channel powerhouse, said he plans to remain part of CDW after Sirius’ acquisition closes at least for a couple years.

“We’ll figure that out as we work through integration. Integration takes some time,” he told CRN.

The $2.5 billion acquisition of Sirius Computer Solutions by channel giant CDW, which brings CDW a huge expansion for its services and data center business, started with a couple of phone calls between him and Christine Leahy, CDW president and CEO.

[Related: CDW 4Q20: Coronavirus Made The Company, Customers Stronger]

The acquisition was welcome news to investors who Monday drove CDW’s share prices up by nearly 5 percent.

The decision for CDW to acquire Sirius came from conversations between Leahy and Mertens, and was not spurred by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, the private investment firm, which in 2019 acquired a majority equity interest in Sirius, Mertens said.

“Chris reached out to me, and then we engaged with the private equity firm,” he said.

Mertens said he has known CDW CEO Christine Leahy for a number of years before the two talked about bringing the two solution providers together.

“I have a lot of respect for her,” he said. ”We had a dialog with them a number of years ago, and I think they realized that they wanted to expand their field of services and field sales capabilities. And we were the logical choice.”

Sirius is a cross-platform IT systems integrator primarily focused on data center, cloud, and security, and brings to CDW some serious capabilities, Mertens said.

“We are bringing greater services volume and capabilities, stronger data center capacities around managed services, and additional breadth of security offerings,” he said. ”And I think that, by this combination, we gain some capability around client-side computing that we haven‘t had. I think the combination of the two will create some pretty attractive offerings for clients.”

If CDW had not decided to acquire Sirius, Sirius would remain a thriving, profitable company, Mertens said.

“We had had investment from CD&R (Clayton, Dubilier & Rice),” he said. ”They were actually fairly early in the lifecycle of their investment. We certainly would have kept moving forward. We were not in any sort of sales process. It was really Chris and I having a discussion on wouldn‘t this make sense, and ultimately we were able to make that work.”

CDW and Leahy were not the first to talk with Sirius about acquiring the solution provider, Mertens said. “There’s always somebody calling,” he said.

Sirius over several years has shifted from a focus on the IBM mainframe business to become a services powerhouse, first under founder Harvey Najim, who founded the company in 1980 as Star Data Systems, and then under Mertens for the last 10 years or so, and so is leaving a long legacy of working with clients, Mertens said.

“Legacies are measured based upon customer satisfaction,” he said. ”I think, as you look at our clients, their average tenure with us is close to 10 years. Our client satisfaction is roughly 9.3 on a scale of 10. Very high NPS (net promoter scores). To me, at the end of the day, you‘re measured by how happy your clients are and whether your clients continue to buy from you.”

Sirius itself has a long history of acquiring other solution providers. Mertens said he sure how many acquisitions Sirius has made, but guesses it has been between 15 to 20 companies.

“I‘ve been doing this for a long time,” he said.

The company most recently acquired Champion Solutions Group, a late 2020 move that brought Sirius Champion‘s MessageOps unit and its cloud management tools.

Other Sirius acquisitions going back to 2014 include Advanced Solutions Group, Brightlight Consulting, Varro, Avnet Inc.’s digital solution services, Force 3, thinkASG, and Continuum Security Solutions.

Sirius also previously had a distribution business, which it sold in 1997 and that then became the IBM distribution business of what today is known as TD Synnex, Mertens said.

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