Britec expands again with Empower purchase

HandshakeCalgary-based Britec Computer Systems Group has made another acquisition, purchasing Kelowna, B.C.-based Empower Business Solutions on the heels of its purchase of London, Ont.-based MBCSolutions this past spring.

But unlike the previous acquisition, this time the Microsoft- and Sage-focused solution provider is acquiring to grow in a familiar market, rather than getting into a new region.

Britec has been in Kelowna for over a year, since it purchased longtime Kelowna IT VAR Browen. So why another purchase in the Okanagan Valley? Britec President Roger Katarey said it’s to further round out its business in the B.C. interior.

With Empower on board under the Britec name, Katarey said there’s no doubt Britec is the number one Sage Accpac partner in the region and the number one or number two overall IT solution provider.

While Britec had a strong IT business in Kelowna through the Browen purchase, Katarey said Empower dominated the region when it came to Sage Accpac. In bringing the two organizations together, the total is more than the sum of the parts, he explained.

“It’s just a great fit for us,” Katarey said. “We can do more things because there’s a bigger team at play.”

For example, the smaller Empower was farming out, or opting not to take on, jobs for customers that require custom development around Accpac. The combined Britec will be able to take on those roles.

In a strange way, it’s a merger that’s been waiting a while to happen. Katarey said that before Britec purchased Browen, the two longtime Kelowna-area resellers (15 years or Empower, 12 years for Browen) had discussed coming together. Those discussions wouldn’t come to anything at the time, and Browen would eventually be purchased by Britec, leaving Empower to watch and see how that integration went in the small, close-knit Kelowna IT community.

Evidently, it went well enough for Browen to warrant Empower joining the Britec family as well.

Terms of the deal were not announced, and the combined business will go to market under the Britec name. Katarey said Empower staff are moving into Britec’s existing Kelowna offices, and within a month “everything will be under the Britec name.”

As part of the deal, the Empower team will join Britec, with Elaine Marshall and Terri Orchard coming on as senior consultants, while Jeff Campbell will take the dual roles of senior consultant and account executive.

Meanwhile, Katarey is just back from spending some time at the company’s new London, Ont. offices, helping the former MBCSolutions move into its new location and finishing some integration work.

“Things are starting to happen in that area,” Katarey said of the Southwest Ontario region. “It was a good move and customers saw it as such.”

In the recent past, Britec has purchased Browen, MBCSolutions, and now Empower. So is there a formal strategy at play here? Yes and no. While Katarey said the company has been on a path of growth since 2003, including both organic and acquisition activity, there’s no real master plan. It’s mostly about finding businesses with similar visions and values to Britec.

“These [mergers] are just coming through our networking with people,” Katarey said. “We’ve been around for 23 years, so people know us. We want to grow, to keep our skills up-to-date and to present a bigger team and greater bench strength.”

The company has done an even dozen acquisitions in the last eight years. While there is a definite process in place – Katarey refers to a “checklist” for such matters – there’s always some risk involved, even after doing extensive due diligence into prospective acquisitions and cultural fits.

“You get a bit better over time, but you can never predict it 100 per cent,” Katarey said.