Acquisitive VAR Carousel Wants To Keep Branching Out

Carousel Industries has long been one of the industry's top Avaya solution providers, but Avaya is hardly its only focus: its vendor partners vary as widely as Microsoft and F5 Networks, Juniper and Polycom, APC, Extreme Networks and Zeacom.

And if Carousel is to grow as admirably as it has in the past two years -- the Exeter, R.I.-based VAR was No. 202 on the 2010 VAR500 ranking, posting 12.5 percent year over year revenue growth from 2008 to 2009 -- it's going to have to do so in multiple directions.

"We play pretty tough in the Avaya world, and now we're looking to augment our other growth in areas like data center and security," said James Marsh, Carousel's senior vice president, in a recent conversation with CRN. "That's going to be most of our focus in 2011 and 2012: growing those areas of the business and also our managed services."

On one hand, it's growth strategy has meant acquisitions. Carousel made a bunch in 2010, including of Atlanta-based LANForce Consulting Group in October, certain assets of Canton, Mass.-based TriNET Systems in August, and the U.S. operations of Burlington, Ont.-based BrantTel Networks. It also entered into a strategic partnership with OmniPresence, the Marlborough, Mass.-based audio/visual integration specialist.

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That M&A streak won't slow down in 2011, said Marsh, who confirmed that Carousel is in talks to acquire a virtualization-oriented solution provider, which he declined to identify.

"I think [in 2011] we'll probably do three to four of them," Marsh said.

But they won't be as Avaya-centric, necessarily, as the acquisitions Carousel made last year.

"The thing is, security is going to be the No. 1 issue, and it's also going to be the one thing that will allow the cloud to really take off," Marsh said. "Those are technologies we're in today, but they're not yet a big enough part of our business. So we ask, do we continue to build it, or are we going to buy it. And with the kind of magnitude, we have to move quicker, and we have to buy it, because the time that we'd need to build it out is too long."

Carousel's doubling down on its other key business units include increased emphasis on its wireless business which grew 300 percent year-over-year. Carousel is a close partner of Aruba Networks and Meru Networks on the wireless side, but Marsh admitted he is intrigued by Juniper's recent acquisition of Trapeze Networks, which thrusts Juniper firmly into the crowded WLAN space for the first time.

The services piece of the business is another focus. It accounts for 28 percent of Carousel's revenue now, Marsh said, but ideally needs to be as high as 50 percent. Carousel is on pace to do $300 million in revenue in 2011, he said, and is targeting $500 million for 2012.

"Yes, these are some lofty, aggressive goals," Marsh said. "But we're full speed ahead."

Next: Carousel Makes Executive Appointments

In addition to acquisitions, Carousel has also made a number of moves to solidify its executive team. On Monday, Carousel announced seven vice president-level appointments.

Dan Whalen will move from director of engineering to vice president of engineering, while Tom Belliveau will become vice president of professional services from his previous role as director of implementation services, assuming command of Carousel's project management and "day one" deployment activities.

Further, Jay Jamison is vice president of global services following his last post as director of global account services, and is now in charge of Carousel's field operations and "Premier One" customer accounts. Bill Annino will become vice president of data services. On the customer service side, Deb Ricci is now vice president of customer service, following a role as director of customer service, managing Carousel's customer service, network operations center and maintenance.

Finally, Michael Ciano is vice president of managed services and Kelly Harman is now vice president of marketing. Both Ciano and Harman came to Carousel via the TriNET Systems acquisition.