It’s hard to believe it’s been a year ago already since we made our boldest move: Selling our company to Norwest Equity Partners (NEP), a leading investment firm headquartered in the Twin Cities. We knew the move meant we would need to grow – really grow.
So what’s happened since we signed on the dotted line? We bought seven companies, welcomed about 300 new employees and added 6,000 new clients. Yes, it’s been a busy year. But we’re just getting started.
Marco took 39 years to reach $100 million in sales, 3 years for the next $100 million and 18 months for the next. We have been challenged to consider what we will look like at $1 billion, and how and when we will get there.
What got us to where we are probably won't get us to where we are going. I sat down with Marco’s Chief Financial Officer, Jennifer Mrozek, to talk about what we have learned and what’s next. Here are our thoughts:
- Growth means more than revenue.
NEP believes in our culture. It’s one of the reasons they acquired us, and they want to make sure we leverage it. We cannot just grow sales. We need to effectively replicate our culture across all of our 50 offices. We’ve also heightened our focus on attracting and retaining talented employees to position ourselves for accelerated growth. We’re learning about developing and growing the infrastructure that we will need to be a $1-billion company.
- Showing our work is hard, but beneficial.
It feels like we’re back in school at times needing to “show our work” for how we solved a problem or came to a decision. But that documentation is making us better decision makers and a better company. It’s a good practice and requires us to do our homework upfront to support our recommended decisions. Examples are our upcoming corporate office expansion plan, development of our acquisition playbook and our budgeting process.
- Planning starts earlier and looks out further.
We have always been pretty good at strategic planning. But now we need to take it to the next level with more detail in our financial budgets and an extended timeline beyond one year. For the first time, we will develop 1- and 3-year plans for our IT service offerings. We want to gain a more forward look at what we’re going to sell and expand our IT services through a more scalable and repeatable strategy.
- Revenue mix matters more than we thought.
We’ve typically tried to balance our organic and acquired growth at about a 50-50 ratio. Now, organic growth is becoming a more important part of our overall strategy and long-term success. Yes, it’s important to buy companies, but it’s even more important to effectively integrate these companies and cross-sell all of our solutions in our new markets. You can’t just buy your way to sustainable growth.
Marco has had a strong track record of success. Growing our company from $20 million to $100 million was one thing. Growing it from $280 million to $1 billion is a whole new ball game. Collaborating with our partners at NEP provides us with the coaching and confidence to achieve what not too long ago seemed unimaginable.