Softchoice adds managed, pro services with Unis Lumin buy

David MacDonald

Softchoice CEO David MacDonald

If there’s any doubt about the pervasive importance of managed services and the cloud in the future of a solution provider’s business, look no further than the announced acquisition of Unis Lumin by Softchoice as evidence.

Softchoice is consistently the number one solution provider in the land by revenues on CDN’s annual Top 100 listing, and it’s done that largely on its reputation as a LAR – a high-efficiency, high-volume product seller that mitigates lower margins by moving a tremendous amount of product.

That has shifted in recent years, as the company has sought to add more services and solution-sale resources to the mix. But by spending $17 million for Unis Lumin, one of Cisco’s go-to partners, CEO David MacDonald is shifting that transition into overdrive.

“Unis Lumin has a well-deserved reputation in the Canadian marketplace for technical excellence,” MacDonald said in a conference call announcing the deal. “Where Unis Lumin really shines is in networking, unified communications and network security. In the Cisco partner universe, Unis Lumin is considered one of the very best.”

But why Unis Lumin and why now? MacDonald offers two predictable reasons – managed services and the cloud.

Unis Lumin’s revenues came half from professional and managed services, and in snapping them up, Softchoice picks up more than 50 services-focused people, as well as some 800 Canadian customers. In other words, it’s strapping a rocket to its existing plans to shift from a pure volume player to a more complete solution provider.

“This is another milestone in our evolution as a comprehensive provider of IT solutions and services,” MacDonald said, noting that the deal gives Softchoice “the scale and efficiency of a national provider with the touch and skill” of a smaller specialist.

Adding Unis Lumin’s managed services customers to its mix and introducing some of the services traditionally offered by Unis Lumin to its existing customer base are expected to make Softchoice more “sticky” to its customers and to increase margins, MacDonald noted.

Looking forward, MacDonald said he expects the managed services provided by Unis Lumin to provide “the platform for a comprehensive public cloud offering” from Softchoice, and to otherwise add recurring revenues to its revenues mix.

Geographically, MacDonald said the deal “adds strength in the west” and gives Softchoice an office presence in Halifax for the first time.

MacDonald said the company expects to transition almost all of Unis Lumin’s 130 staffers, although he did note that the two owners of the company, and one additional executive, would be leaving as a result of the purchase.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the year, assuming it gets the appropriate blessings from Ottawa.