Benchmark amalgamates with Arctiq in all-Canadian solution provider transaction

The transaction almost doubles Benchmark’s size, giving them the strength to tackle larger customer accounts, and it continues the company’s transition over the last several years to become more of a software and services provider.

Benchmark Corp., a Greater Toronto area-based solutions provider and cloud solutions provider, has announced an amalgamation with Toronto-based Arctiq, a boutique transformative technology services provider. The deal, which in terms of its impact on the two companies is more like a merger, almost doubles the size of Benchmark’s roster, which should make it easier for them to win larger deals. It also continues Benchmark’s transformation over the last three years from more of a traditional solutions provider to one with a deep focus on software and services, particularly around open source.

“Aside from the somewhat unusual feature that you have two Canadian-based companies coming together, this is a definitely a stronger together story,” said Luc Villeneuve, Benchmark’s President. “In DevOps, finding good talent is very, very hard. We’ve known Mike [Morrison, Arctiq’s Founder and President] since they started the business. We had a Master Services agreement and leveraged each other’s expertise. We determined that if we put our teams together, we would grow even faster. We were getting stuck in too many small implementations, and did not have the clout to deal with big customers like banks or government. This can address customer concerns that we are big enough to take care of a big project.

“Arctiq’s model is a little different from ours,” Villeneuve said. “We integrated all services and products into what we do. Their model was just delivering services. Now they will be able to deliver and offer the same thing and get larger deals.

Mike Morrison, Arctiq’s Founder and President

“We have focused on services delivery, not resale, around cloud modernization and innovation in the application delivery space – GitOps, DevOps – things like that,” Morrison said. “We originally thought we would help smaller companies get into the cloud space, but our customer base very quickly became enterprise, and we have delivered products to all of the big Canadian banks. The ongoing ask we were getting from partners, however, was could we sell and deliver the whole stack. Growth could be organic but providing those end-to-end solutions was what customers wanted. We knew Benchmark well, and had been partnering together since five years ago, with what at the time was an emerging telco.”

This is the first time Benchmark has ever brought another company into its fold, and it will play an important role in the company’s continuing evolution.

“Before I came to Benchmark, I spent five years as Red Hat’s country leader, where I learned about the open source and subscription business,” Villeneuve said. “When I joined Benchmark, it was as part of a moment of change to keep us alive by transitioning to become a software and service provider with a bias to open source. We did the pivot very quietly over past three years, because we didn’t want to tip everyone in the marketplace as to what we are doing. Once we made that pivot, all the open source vendors reached out to be friendly with us. We just needed more capacity in delivering products in the Canadian marketplace, which is what this acquisition will provide.”

While Benchmark is a well-known national company, and Arctiq more of a boutique firm, the sizes of the two companies were remarkably similar, which provides a big boost to Benchmark’s bench.

“We now have about 80 people, which includes around 35 who came from Arctiq,” Villeneuve said. “Our revenues were much larger, however, because we sell product as well as services. They also have about 30 customers that I didn’t have, and they will be able to bring us into these accounts and cross-sell.

“We have been delivering 30-40 simultaneous projects, and you need a lot of people for that,” said Morrison, in explaining the relatively large size of Arctiq’s staff. That staff has allowed them to service customers in the U.S. and even in South America.

Villeneuve said that Arctiq also brings Benchmark strength in specific areas.

“Their Project Management Office is really well structured, and is stronger than ours,” he said. “Their relations with Google and [ironically] Red Hat were also very strong, and more advanced than ours.”

Morrison also stressed that the intellectual capital that Arctiq brings to the new combination is more than just more people.

“It’s not just bench strength,” he said. “It’s the ability to understand process flow. It’s the ability to tell a company that they are wrong, rather than to just do what they want and deliver tactically weak strategies, which even some of the large integrators do.”

Villeneuve also noted that the incoming Arctiq personnel would also benefit from tools that Benchmark has developed.

“We have produced some very advanced assessment tools, such as as Engineering Effectiveness Calculator, a tool to do assessments of the DevOps posture of a customer, and a Zero Trust tool we launched a few weeks ago,” he said. “These three tools are new to them.

The Board of Directors of the amalgamated organization includes Benchmark Managing Director Kam Sabouri as Chairman, along with Mike Morrison and Luc Villeneuve. Luc Villeneuve will continue as president, Shlomo Bielak will lead the CTO’s office, and David Briand will be the COO implementing the vision and strategy of the entire organization

“My role is going to be board member, and do as much as I can to help through all of the transition,” Morrison said. “I have no plans to start up another company. I plan to be on the board to help guide things and make decisions at that level.”