Service Express Buys iTech Solutions, iInTheCloud
July 20, 2022 Alex Woodie
It was a “double i” acquisition day recently for Service Express, the IBM business partner that completed acquisitions of iTech Solutions and iInTheCloud on July 5. The moves give Service Express a much bigger presence for IBM i cloud services in the US after it completed a similar deal in the UK.
Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Service Express broke into the IT market decades ago servicing DEC and VaxAlpha accounts. Over the years, the company has grown its presence in the IBM market, providing hardware systems, solution sales, and managed services, in addition to managed services, IT asset disposition, and data center relocations.
The private cloud looks to play heavily in its acquisitions of iTech Solutions and iInTheCloud, both of which provided managed services for Power systems. In the case of iInTheCloud, geographic proximity and an existing business relationship also played a role.
“With Service Express‘ headquarters only minutes from our data centers, the company has been the go-to service provider for many of our customers, as well as for iInTheCloud since its inception,” said Larry Bolhuis, co-president of iInTheCloud, which is based in Middleville, a suburb of Grand Rapids. “I’m excited to expand our support options and capabilities for our new and existing customers.”
iTech Solutions presumably is the bigger of the two deals (although no terms were provided for either of the deals). According to iTech Solutions President Pete Massiello, iTech had 35 employees and about 500 customers. It also had a number of suitors who were interested in the company.
“We have grown quite a lot over the years, and quite honestly, [are] probably one of the best IBM i Business Partners here in the US and Canada,” Massiello told IT Jungle via email. “Clients were certainly noticing us, and so were other companies and venture capital firms. We actually never put the company up for sale, we just kept getting offers.”
More than a half dozen companies had expressed an interest in buying iTech, Massiello said, and after doing his due diligence, selected Service Express, which he said “was the best by far.”
“It was important for me to find the right company that would take care of my employees,” Massiello said. “This is the best group of individuals in the industry, and they have trusted me to lead the company over all these years. I had to make sure that I took care of my employees and their families as well.”
When he visited with Service Express to meet with the company, he knew immediately this was the company, Massiello said. “The people, the culture, the way they did business,” he said. “This was a company I could trust taking care of my employees as well as the company I had built. I liked their core values and purpose.”
While Massiello has mixed feelings about giving up control of his company after 20 years, he seemed to be happy knowing it’s still in good hands. Plus, it will eventually allow him to get back to working with technology and customers in a pre-sales role, as opposed to doing paperwork and running the business, which had been taking up more of his time as iTech grew.
“At iTech, I was really doing three jobs, and it was too much,” the former COMMON president said (Bolhuis also is a former COMMON president). “I think you will see me speaking more, getting back into more of the technical side of the house, and just more active in the IBM i community.”
There won’t be much of a change for the next six months or so, Massiello said, as Service Express absorbs iTech and figures out how it operated.
“Service Express is examining how we operate and figuring out how we maintain that ‘iTech Difference’ that we always talk about,” he said. “They have seen it, and they don’t want to do anything to change that. Sure, maybe we won’t be wearing those cool red shirts anymore, but that will probably be the only real difference as we move forward.”
This deal replicates to some degree the deals Service Express completed in 2021, when it acquired Blue Chip and the ICC Group, two UK-based IT services firms with IBM i businesses. Blue Chip, in particular, had about 800 customers in the UK, with about 500 of them on IBM i. With iTech Solutions and iInTheCloud now joining the firm, Service Express has expanded its professional services and cloud hosting businesses into the cloud.
“The acquisition of iTech and iInTheCloud accelerate the expansion of our managed and infrastructure service offerings to the US,” Ron Alvesteffer, president and CEO of Service Express, said in a press release. “We anticipate strong company growth as we continue to broaden and diversify our solutions, bringing a wider portfolio of services to customers in the US and UK.”