Fully Managed expands to Edmonton with HIT acquisition

HandshakeVancouver-based managed service provider Fully Managed has started the new year off by expanding into a new market with the acquisition of Edmonton-based HIT Business Solutions.

As of the beginning of the year, HIT is now going to market under the Fully Managed brand, said Chris Day, CEO of the combined MSP. But as much as the deal is about expanding into new markets, it’s also very much about management focus.

Here’s why.

Sure, expanding into new markets is great, Day said. But equally important is this little bit of tough self-assessment he offers: “I’m a terrible manager.”

To put it mildly, Day doesn’t seem himself as the best operations guy in the world. But that’s okay, because operations is the strong suite of Sharleen Oborowsky, head of HIT and now president of the combined Fully Managed.

The solution is simple – as president Oborowsky takes charge of operations, finance and other day-to-day issues. “It’s nice to hand off to someone who’s a lot better at that than I am,” Day said.

Meanwhile, Day gets to devote himself full-time to what he loves most – looking at the future and how to grow the business. He’ll be keeping a close eye on opportunities to expand Fully Managed, offer more and better technology services to customers.

“It’s made an immediate difference in my day for sure,” he said.

The deal actually originated with those two principals – Oborowsky and Day – who had previously been in the same organization for entrepreneurs. Day said the two “chatted” over the summer about bringing the organizations together, and soon found a lot of common ground in terms of their focus in business and in terms of their management styles.

“I wouldn’t have done the deal if I didn’t know Sharleen was going to come on and take that role,” Day said of the new president position. “Just swallowing up the company without her being involved wouldn’t have interested me nearly as much.”

The companies are now integrated, if separated by a province and about 25 degrees Celsius this time of year. The solution to running a business with management so far apart? Something Fully Managed knows a little bit about – technology. Day said the company has invested heavily in video conferencing, using it for regular meetings, including a daily huddle.

While the companies’ managed offerings are largely complementary, Day said Fully Managed has picked up one line of business in the acquisition, picking up HIT’s business in voice and speech technology. HIT was a large partner of Dragon Natural Speaking, and Day said Fully Managed would be bringing that business into Vancouver “and expanding it as well.”

One of the biggest things the Edmonton business gets out of the deal is acceleration. According to Day, the Vancouver side of Fully Managed is “about 18 months ahead of where they were” in terms of a managed services model – a gap Day and his team expect to use their experience to close.

“We’re going to fast-track their advancement in that region,” he said.

The combined company has retained all of its technical and sales staff in both cities, bringing its ranks to 35 employees, with several new positions on the way, including account managers in both cities.

With the hard work done on the HIT integration, can we expect Fully Managed to get the acquisition bug and start building out a managed services network that spans Western Canada? How about coast-to-coast? Perhaps worldwide?

Maybe not. Day said further expansion is definitely something the company has considered, but “it’s not currently a part of the immediate plans” for Fully Managed.

“We’re really focused on growing the business in each city right now, and there’s plenty of business out there,” he said. “But if the right opportunity comes along, we’ll take it.”

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