Partnering leads to acquisition as Winnipeg’s Powerland buys FACT Computers

The deal takes a previous partnering relationship one step further, expands Powerland’s presence in Saskatchewan, and gives them complete control of FACT’s comparatively large pool of technical people, who complement Powerland’s previous shortage of feet on the street in Saskatchewan.

Ashley Penner - Powerland 300

Ashley Penner, Powerland’s CEO

Powerland, a Winnipeg-based solution provider, and Regina-based FACT Computers have had a collegial partnering relationship for several years, in which FACT Computers provided break-fix services to Powerland’s customers in Saskatchewan. That relationship has now culminated in Powerland’s acquisition of FACT. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“This came together quickly,” said Ashley Penner, Powerland’s CEO. “We had been having some discussions for a while, but it really came together over the past couple weeks.”

Powerland is a general VAR which has been in business for 30 years. They are HP’s largest reseller in Manitoba, and do significant Cisco, EMC, Lenovo, Microsoft, Apple and VMware business. Their customers are fairly large by Manitoba standards, a mix of mid-size and enterprise clients.

Until four years ago their business was mainly within Winnipeg itself, when they began to branch out into Saskatchewan as well. That’s when they began to work with FACT Computers, a 26 year old solution provider based in Regina, whose customers come more from the small side of SMB, and which does a lot of break-fix work, as well as managed services, hosting, and labour augmentation. Penner and Mike Fritzler, FACT’s President and CEO, already knew each other through Varnex, SYNNEX’s SMB-focused support community.

“We realized that even though we were both working in the Saskatchewan market, we aren’t really competitors, because we are working in different spaces in our markets,” Penner said. “Mike’s company sold services to some of the companies we sold into, so there was a good fit.”

As a result, a relationship between the two VARs developed in which FACT Computers provided break-fix services to Powerland’s Saskatchewan-based customers, taking advantage of the complementary situation in which FACT’s relatively large pool of technical resources complemented Powerland’s lack of feet on the street in Saskatchewan.

Acquiring FACT puts these resources at Powerland’s full disposal.

“With the acquisition we get the value of feet on the street locally, direct employees servicing all our joint Powerland/FACT customer bases,” Penner said. “This is taking a good partnership to the next level. I believe we have great people from both sides that bring a combination of skills that will help us drive business across the prairies and mutually better serve our overall customer base.”

Powerland also expanded into British Columbia last year, opening an office in Richmond. The FACT acquisition will consolidate and expand its Saskatchewan presence. Penner indicated that future expansion is always a goal – as long as it doesn’t compromise their ability to service customers.

“Our first goal is taking great care of our customers, with growth being secondary to that objective,” he said. “We believe we need to have the best offerings to our customers, supported by great people and services, to continue to retain and gain their trust and business.”

Not surprisingly, given both the value of FACT’s human capital from Powerland’s perspective, and the strong relationship between Penner and Fritzler, Fritzler and all his employees will be joining Powerland.

“Mike will be an integral part of the management team going forward,” Penner said. “His key focus will be on taking care of customers and spending more time with them face to face, with less time on office related functions and more doing what he loves to do, which is spending time with people, and building community through his involvement in various boards, and community organizations.” That includes Varnex, where Fritzler is Canadian Council Vice President.

“The rest of the FACT personnel have key skill sets and excellent opportunities for growth as well as personal development within the overall organization,” Penner added. “We believe people buy from people. These are the people that take care of our customers so they are integral to our business.”

Penner, who considers himself a businessman who happens to work in technology rather than a techie in business, offered up a point that he thought summed up the FACT deal well.

“I heard a great quote a while back and believe that it is the key to business,” he said. “One person can’t build a business, but great people working together can.”

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