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When you’re merging with another solution provider, it’s the first 90 days that count

It’s official, Incentra Solutions CEO Tom Sweeney says the solution provider will pause for a bit of a breather in its whirlwind acquisition spree, which has seen the company buy out at least a half-dozen other VARs over the past three years. Now, we’ll have to see if the company can repeat the extraordinarily high rates of growth it has recorded over the past several years through more organic methods (like its burgeoning managed service practice for midtier companies). Here’s all the companies you now find under the Incentra umbrella:

  • Star Solutions (February 2005)
  • PWI (March 2005)
  • NST (April 2006)
  • Tactix (September 2006)
  • Helio Solutions (August 2007)
  • Sales Strategies (a.k.a. SSI) (September 2007) (No WONDER the CEO wouldn’t return my calls last fall!)

Sweeney says the first three months of any merger integration are the most critical for long-term success. During that time, his team concentrates on helping the incoming sales team understand the broader breadth of products and services they can sell. “You are trying to find successes that the sales professionals or engineering professionals can see immediately,” he says.

So how’s Incentra doing? While I don’t have access to their books, Sweeney says the solution provider added 130 new customers during the first six months of 2008 across all facets of its business. For the six-month period ended June 30, Incentra reported $107.5 million in revenue, compared with $55.8 million in the previous year. (Consider, of course, that Helio and SSI were new acquisitions that kicked in during that time period.) Services revenue for the period was $14.7 million (up 49 percent) and product revenue was $92.8 million (up 102 percent).

Like many other solution provider CEOs I’ve gabbed with over the past month, Sweeney claims the ongoing economic uncertainty hasn’t really made a dent in his growth patterns. One trend that he is watching closely, however, is how customers respond to green technology and energy efficiency discussions.

“It’s big and getting bigger,” he says. While Incentra doesn’t actually engineer end-to-end data center buildouts, Sweeney says the Incentra team is closely studying power consumption metrics for the various technologies it represents. Green will become “the standard methodology for how you view any new technology solution you are creating,” he says. In fact, in many cases, he says the ability of a customer to take on a new project in a slower economy is many times tied to a green initiative.

Heather Clancy is a business journalist and communications strategist for high-tech channel and sales consulting firm SWOT Management Group. You can reach her at

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