Acquisitions. Is it a blessing, a curse or somewhere in the middle? Given the state of finances many companies are finding themselves in due to the coronavirus pandemic, acquisition may actually be a smart strategy. But how does a company with a 30-year reputation for quality execution and customer care become part of another company altogether? Does the acquired company lose its identity or incorporate the values of the company that acquired them or do they remain the same in theory but not in name?
ATM Marketplace interviewed Nick Pellegrino, president of SVW, now a Powerhouse company, and asked him to share his thoughts and experience during the recent acquisition of SVW by Powerhouse.
Q: Why did Powerhouse acquire SVW?
A: Powerhouse is a national construction, facilities maintenance and rollout services provider that provides interior and exterior services to remodels and refresh businesses
|Nick Pellegrino, president, SVW|
For the past 16 years, Powerhouse’s high-volume growth has been entirely organic, but recently the company shifted to a new growth strategy of integrating like-minded companies that show an intense commitment to the work it does.
SVW is well aligned with Powerhouse and fits perfectly with its growth strategy. We were primarily known as a provider of full-service ATM installations, upgrades and maintenance for financial institutions. In recent years, we experienced tremendous growth in construction services and facilities maintenance projects.
That national reputation, market-specific expertise, and proven ability to expand our capabilities helped Powerhouse deepen its footprint in the banking and finance industry. Additionally, Powerhouse’s offering helped augment our existing capabilities with a broader services platform, a solid network of contractors, and proven management systems and software tools.
Q: What were the benefits and challenges of the acquisition?
A:Through our relationship with Powerhouse, we can now provide turnkey general contracting services including facilities maintenance, broad construction, and program management along with our core competencies. And, that work is enabled by more than 650 employees and a nationwide network of more than 10,000 subcontractors. We can provide companies now a depth of service to the financial institution marketplace.
The challenges were common to most acquisitions. How do you integrate with another company without losing your 30-year-old reputation for quality execution and customer care? How do you maintain staff commitment and trust? How do you adapt to new capabilities and growth?
I’m proud to say we’ve weathered these challenges successfully. We’ve maintained our customer-centric culture and core values. We’ve empowered our teams in new ways. Our internal processes have shifted to a customer-centric model. We’re integrating new technologies that are helping us and our customers do our jobs better.
And, now we are working on evolving our company with stronger differentiation. We have a unique skill set in self-service kiosk work. We see this as an interesting area for development.
Q: What’s been your role at Powerhouse?
A:I was brought on as President of SVW, earlier this year to oversee the merger’s execution and post-merger integration.
Q: How did the integration go and what changes did you make?
A: Successfully. Our team and customers are adapting well to the new solutions. They’re helping us streamline end to end as well as add more value both internally and externally.
Q: You are now president of SVW. What skills do you bring to the table?
A: I bring more than 30 years of transition management and operational experience. Most recently, I was the EVP and GM of Fulfillment and Parcel Services at Newgistics where I played a key role in the company’s sale to Pitney Bowes in 2017. I also led their post-merger integration while growing the business to nearly $650 million.
Q: What has been the most exciting development since you were named president of SVW?
A: We’ve shifted to a customer-centric support model focused on the consumer experience. Essentially, it is the implementation of best-in-class services with an unparalleled customer experience. This new model streamlines all direct and peripheral service elements to enable uniformity and consistency of the customer’s experience; more bandwidth; cross-departmental knowledge sharing; more structured career growth…benefits run the gamut.
Q: What has been the most important thing you have learned by being the top guy?
A: SVW has a fantastic group of people who have the enthusiasm and grace to help us scale the business. To promote that, we’ve introduced a “team of teams model” to strengthen collaboration, pride and sense of ownership in the company. We collaboratively explore and implement change management strategies that can support the rapid upward trajectory required to push SVW through its next stage of growth. We’re seeing team members truly come into their own; emerging as natural leaders, topical experts, and all-around passionate people committed to SVW’s success.
Q: How did the family-owned aspect of SVW affect your strategy?
A: When a company has a 30-year history that is deeply rooted in customer service…something that customers have come to expect…you want to leverage, not disrupt those values. We made this a core focus. Fortunately, the two companies’ mindsets were aligned from the start, which made things a lot easier.
Q: What do you feel you accomplished in six months?
A:In six months, we’ve significantly grown our business by improving the customer experience and adding more value. There has been a spike in general contracting and 100% growth in facilities maintenance. We’ve also had notable incremental growth via the addition of specialized projects such as plumbing, electric, etc. This is despite the impact of COVID, which created challenges related to implementing changes remotely that we ultimately navigated successfully.
Q: What are your next goals looking forward?
A: We’re not just relying on the integration of Powerhouse’s platform or the modification of operational processes to grow; we’re looking at areas unique to SVW that should be amplified. We’re seeing traction in the self-service kiosk space, particularly those that are cash driven.
Q: What kind of technology or processes have you introduced to the company?
A:We’re replicating Powerhouse’s proven customer management strategies—from systems and processes to software and tech tools.
We’ve shifted to a customer-centric model. This employs a single point-of-contact overseeing all projects for a single customer rather than having different SVW contacts for each project type or location. The new model also entails centralizing fundamental services such as permitting, CAD drafting, licensing, warehouse management, etc. This enables us to push projects through quickly while leveraging best practices across the country.
Per the latter, we’re implementing best-in-class technology solutions to streamline project, warehouse, and people management systems—making us more effective and efficient while also giving customers more holistic oversight of their projects.
Specifically, some of the technologies we’ve deployed are:
• A dynamic customer and vendor portal
• A comprehensive warehouse management system
• A HR system covering everything from training to payroll
Q: What does the future look like long-term?
A:The future is very bright! With the combined resources of Powerhouse and SVW, we are uniquely qualified to support our current and future clients with their most important deployment, facilities maintenance, and construction service needs. We anticipate that there will continue to be tremendous innovation in the financial services industry with new technologies and strategies aimed at meeting customer demand and growing brand awareness. We want to be a key vehicle within the industry to bring these initiatives to life.
Q: What can customers look forward to?
A: Several industries are looking for ways to minimize human touch given the pandemic. In certain parts of the country, cash is still king and many of our customers need solutions to support that preference. Our experience is rooted in ATMs…cash-driven self-service kiosks. These projects require niche training, planning, logistics and implementation skills…capabilities that are part of our company’s fabric. We are perfectly positioned to deploy and manage these solutions such as cash recycling kiosks, electric battery chargers, point of sale devices and more.