Constellation Dealer Group is well-positioned to support the growth and development of businesses looking toward the next stage in their evolution. They will safeguard your brand and your people while using their collective experience to enhance and expand business operations.
Can you describe your journey and the experiences that led you to Ibcos and Constellation Dealer Group?
I have always worked in the software industry. I started at WH Smith, where I was part of a management development programme that set me on my path toward technology and systems. I was then seconded to their systems implementation team as a consultant, helping roll out their POS and store systems. Upon completion of that project, I transitioned to British Electronic POS (Bepos), which later merged with Warwick Computers, a supplier to the fresh produce industry, forming Warwick-Bepos.
My journey with them continued through various transformations, the most notable being the acquisition by Torex, which led to my role as General Manager. I later moved to Prologic as the Operations Director, where I stayed for 13 years until they were acquired by Versata. After the acquisition, I embarked on a new journey with Ibcos, which was already a part of the Constellation Dealer Group. I initially joined as the Customer Service Manager and became the General Manager in 2017.
What was it like navigating the transition to business leadership, and how did Catalyst join your portfolio?
I felt confident and prepared for the transition to GM of Ibcos because of my time as Operations Director at Prologic and previously as GM at Warwick-Bepos. It was a challenging time for me until I put together a great and supportive management team. This experience was also invaluable when Catalyst came into the picture.
Catalyst provides dealership software to several industries including agriculture, which Ibcos focuses on, so our paths intersected as competitors. Constellation Dealer Group maintained a long-standing relationship with Catalyst’s business owners and a mutual respect had developed over time.
When Catalyst decided to sell, I joined the M&A team to support the due diligence process, and they joined in September 2020. Given the complementary nature of our markets, and since it was a smaller company than the typical Dealer Group acquisition, it made strategic sense to manage Catalyst and Ibcos under the same leadership.
What do you see as the biggest advantage of both Ibcos and Catalyst being run under the same organization?
There are numerous benefits to having Ibcos and Catalyst operate under the Constellation Dealer Group, but the most significant is having access to a range of resources that are not normally available to the majority of smaller businesses. They can tap into a wealth of support areas, including HR, Marketing, Product Management, and UX/UI. Many business owners find it hard to develop, plan, and execute a “next-level” strategy, so this collective expertise is instrumental in enhancing the professionalism of the business.
A case in point is Ibcos, which, since joining Constellation Dealer Group, has charted a remarkable growth path with a 2.5x increase in its net revenue. The substantial resources and expertise provided by the Dealer Group equip businesses like Ibcos and Catalyst with the ability to develop and execute sophisticated business strategies. This approach not only drives growth but also ensures minimal disruptions to day-to-day operations.
What makes Constellation Dealer Group a good home for these businesses in your mind?
My experiences with Warwick-Bepos and Prologic – which both underwent acquisitions by companies with differing values – have given me a unique perspective on business transitions. Drawing from this background, Constellation Dealer Group is well-positioned to support the growth and development of businesses looking toward the next stage in their evolution. They will safeguard your brand and your people while using their collective experience to enhance and expand business operations.
What advice would you give to a software business owner in the dealer industry who is thinking about selling their company?
As a business owner, it’s important to consider your own exit ambitions but also the well-being of your staff and the legacy of the product you’ve invested your life into. To ensure both are safeguarded, carefully evaluate any prospective buyers, such as speaking with the management team of other businesses they have acquired. Ultimately, you must be comfortable with who you’re selling to.