The 20 Closes Three More M&A Deals!
The 20 proudly welcomes three world-class MSPs to its rapidly growing organization – and reflects on the M&A lessons learned over the past year.
We’re coming to you with more big M&A news! We just completed three more MSP acquisitions (read full press release), bringing the total number of deals closed to nineteen. That’s …
Nineteen highly skilled and motivated teams joining The 20 family.
Nineteen new sources of expertise and innovation.
Nineteen client bases in fifteen different states.
And nineteen happy (former) MSP owners!
We’re delighted to welcome the following managed service providers to The 20 family:
- UNI Computers, Kansas, Owner: Lance Keltner, Website
- CyberSecure IT Solutions, Florida, CEO: Christian Wartchow, Website
- The Computing Edge, Oklahoma, CEO: George Burke, Website
All three of these MSPs achieved tremendous success as members of our growth platform – The 20 MSP Group. The 20 MSP Group is a co-op of small and medium-sized MSPs that work together, leveraging shared knowledge and resources, including The 20’s battle-tested business model, to grow and scale much faster and more easily than they ever could working alone.
We’ve enjoyed watching UNI Computers, CyberSecure IT Solutions, and The Computing Edge evolve into top-tier MSPs with a strong regional presence, and we can’t wait to deepen our relationship with these exemplary companies and their talented teams.
Our CEO Tim Conkle remarked on these latest acquisitions, and his thoughts tell you everything you need to know about how The 20’s leadership is feeling:
“Lance, Christian, and George … built tremendous teams who understand what managed IT services are all about – helping clients win. It’s an understatement to say we’re feeling confident that our new team members are going to help us bring second-to-none IT support to clients at a national scale.”
In addition to feeling confident about our latest acquisitions, we’re also feeling confident about our roll-up process as a whole. When you successfully carry out nineteen of these deals, you learn a lot of important lessons – lessons that will certainly be top-of-mind as we continue on our M&A journey, pushing into new markets and deepening our national footprint.
In this blog post, we want to share a few of these lessons with the MSP community. If you’re an MSP with M&A on the mind, keep reading for advice and wisdom that comes from our experiences, and from the experiences of the MSP owners whose businesses we’ve acquired.
M&A Lessons from The 20
The M&A journey we embarked on last year has been exciting, eye-opening, and deeply gratifying. It’s bolstered our already sky-high confidence in The 20 MSP Group, and taught us a multitude of M&A lessons that any growth-minded MSP would be remiss to ignore.
Recently, we sat down with the MSP owners whose businesses we’ve acquired to talk about their experiences rolling up. They generously shared their thoughts and feelings, and we’ve picked a few key ideas from these conversations to share with you …
Lesson #1 – Communication is Everything
When we acquire an MSP, we follow a streamlined and highly systematized roll-up process – one we’ve perfected over the past year. That said, every MSP is different, and more to the point, every MSP owner is different. They come to us with different sets of concerns, worries, and questions, and we’ve found that the most important part of the roll-up process is communication.
When we acquire an MSP, we open a dialogue with that MSP’s leadership team, and do everything we can to be (a) available, (b) transparent, and (c) supportive. Selling your MSP can be stressful, which is why we make sure to be there for the MSP owners whose companies we’re acquiring. Just ask Caleb B. (we acquired Caleb’s MSP, JS Computek, back in October):
“The lines of communication were amazingly open – there were lots of 5 am emails that were answered and there were lots of 8 pm emails answered.”
When you’re feeling stressed, the last thing you want is to be kept out of the loop. This idea isn’t just at the core of how we treat our end clients; it’s also a crucial part of how we treat the MSPs we acquire.
Lesson #2 – Being a Member of The 20 MSP Group Helps … A LOT
The MSPs we’ve acquired – and the MSPs we will acquire – all belong to our growth platform, The 20 MSP Group. This is no coincidence; we’re exclusively acquiring MSPs that belong to our group because it makes integration immeasurably easier! These are MSPs who’ve already adopted our tool stack and business model. In short, we’re acquiring companies we’ve worked with, gotten to know, and wholly trust to protect The 20’s reputation for exceptional support and service delivery.
Talking to the MSP owners who’ve been rolled up really drove home the importance of the group to our M&A process …
“We’re still leveraging the same support desk. We’re still selling the same way. You still got the same local staff…The transition for my customers was easy!”
“It wasn’t like a normal acquisition where you might have fear about having to change your culture and your process.”
“From my clients’ perspective, they already trusted The 20 because we got a lot of support – we got a lot of resources from The 20 – and so I knew going in that The 20 MSP would be taking care of my clients the same way I would.”
“Honestly, being part of The 20, there wasn’t really much to prepare … [it] helped make the acquisition really smooth. Everything was aligned.”
More than one of the MSP owners we sat down with said that The 20’s acquisition of their company didn’t even feel like an acquisition! This isn’t surprising when you think about it; these business owners didn’t sell their companies to PE firms they’ve never worked with before, but to a company they’ve gotten to know over the course of several years, and whose leadership team they’ve come to trust and respect.
We have real relationships with the MSPs we’re acquiring, which makes a big difference at every stage of the acquisition process.
Lesson #3 – From Owner to Employee: Lots to Love!
Selling your MSP can be scary for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the fact that going from “owner to employee” is a big change. A lot of the MSP owners whose companies we acquired had gone years – sometimes decades! – without having a boss. We asked them about their experience transitioning from being an owner to an employee, and their answers were illuminating.
Some talked about the fact that they’re still shareholders, with a measurable stake in The 20 and its success as the first truly national MSP:
“I don’t really feel like I sold [my MSP], because it’s a little different situation as you move from being an owner to a shareholder. And so I do really feel ownership with what we’re building now.”
Others highlighted the fact that as employees of The 20, they’ve been placed in leadership positions that allow them to focus on what they’re good at and enjoy doing – sales, operations, etc.:
“I’m loving working as an employee of The 20. I’m regional VP of the Midwest … It’s a fancy title that means I take care of my clients and I take care of my staff so that they have the resources to take care of my clients. I’m an operator at heart, so I’m able to focus most of my time on doing what I’m really good at and what I love doing.”
“When I first started my MSP, I had a shift to be an engineer because I drew the short straw … Now I get a chance to go back into sales, where my first foundation was.”
And one MSP owner emphasized how nice it’s been to have more time to focus on what truly matters:
“Now that we’ve sold our MSP, what’s next? Well, number one is to be able to focus on my family.”
When you’re used to being a business owner, the idea of becoming an employee can be scary. But take it from these MSP owners – there’s a lot to love about the transition!
Lesson #4 – Selling is Emotional!
No matter how much you’ve thought about the decision, and no matter how confident you are that it’s the right move for both you and your MSP, the act of selling something you’ve spent years building is bound to be emotional.
It’s only natural to feel a lot of different feelings during the roll-up process: excitement, fear, hope, doubt … The list goes on! So if/when you enter the M&A arena, give yourself permission to be human. Give yourself permission to feel.
We understand that selling your MSP isn’t just another business decision – it’s a huge moment in your professional life, representing years of hard work, dreaming, planning, and risk-taking. We also recognize and respect that selling your MSP is likely to be an emotional time, which brings us full circle, back to lesson #1:
We can’t remove all the stress from the roll-up process, but we can do everything we can to minimize it, including ALWAYS BEING AVAILABLE TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS AND DISCUSS YOUR CONCERNS. Communication is the name of the game, and here at The 20, we’re committed to knocking it out of the park on that front!
Look Out for Our Brand-New M&A Page!
Acquiring nineteen MSPs has taught us a lot, and we’re excited to apply these lessons going forward. We’ve grown a lot over the past year, deepening our national footprint and expanding our portfolio of services, but we’re still in the early stages of our multi-year growth plan. So stay tuned for more M&A news from The 20 as we continue on our M&A spree.
Also, make sure to look out for our brand-new M&A webpage (launching soon!), where you’ll find plenty of useful information on M&A strategy, our roll-up process, and the testimonial videos from which the quotes in this blog post were taken.
And in the meantime, download our free M&A guide for MSPs – Top M&A Tips for MSPs.