CIC CEO Bob Herzog Talks eCompanyStore Purchase, Future Plans and Promo Industry Acquisitions
The merger was effective April 30, but that's one of the few details the company disclosed. No financial details were given.
Promo Marketing spoke with CIC CEO Bob Herzog, formerly CEO of Bullet Line, about how the acquisition came to be, the future of the two companies, and how distributors can remain competitive amid all the recent mergers and acquisitions.
Promo Marketing: Can you give us a little bit of information on the eCompanyStore acquisition?
Bob Herzog: I joined CIC in April of 2017. My goal has been to make them a top 10 distributor in our industry. That's going require a lot of work. A lot of that work is going to be acquisitions, and the other part would be organic growth. When we looked at the horizon for potential acquisitions, we're looking for companies that kind of do what we do. We like program business, we like middle market up to Fortune 1,000 as a customer base, and I had known the eCompanyStore guys for quite a while in my previous role as a CEO of Bullet Line.
So, as it turns out, one of our investors knows one of their investors. So that's really how the whole thing got started.
We sat down with those guys for the first time in November, and started talking about was this the path we wanted to go down? And it clearly was. I would say after that, the process was, you know, it's never easy, but it was very straight-forward, very transparent and open every step of the way.
PM: Will eCompanyStore continue to operate under that name, or will it be immediately absorbed?
BH: We are going to leave both names intact for the short term. So, this is really the million dollar question. eCompany has a very strong, long-tenured brand name in the industry. CIC also has a strong, long-tenured brand name in the industry, so while we work on integrating back-office type stuff, we're not going to make any name changes. We're starting the process of "What do we want to be down the road?" Because, at one point, it's going to make sense to have one name for the combined organization that reflects what we do, but we're going to take our time doing that.
You see companies do rebranding all the time, and I look at them and say, "That's really, really good," and other times I say, "That's really, really bad." We want to avoid being on the really, really bad side of that, so we're going to step carefully in that area.
PM: Will eCompanyStore's employees and operations stay in Georgia for the time being, then?
BH: We plan on keeping a presence down in the Atlanta market for a very long time. We like the market and we like the Southeastern U.S. And, right now, we're doing kind of a very careful evaluation, and we're looking for the best of the best when it comes to the processes between the two companies and people between the two companies. Both companies run fairly lean, so it's not like there's a lot of opportunity for any major cost reductions. That's not really the major initiative here. We plan on keeping a presence down in Atlanta, and we're doing a careful, slow evaluation of the processes to look for synergies right now.
PM: Generally speaking, do you think acquisitions like this are necessary for competing in the promotional products industry in this day and age?
BH: That's a good question. Here's kind of the way we look at it: I think you can grow your distributorship without doing acquisitions. What an acquisition does is it just kind of leapfrogs your progress. So, we combined the two companies together—we're going to be an $85 million company this year. CIC could get there on their own, but it might take them a couple years longer. That's kind of the way we all think of it. The acquisition integration is challenging no matter what kind of an acquisition you do. You wouldn't take that on unless you had a big prize down there, so I would say it just speeds up your progress toward your goal, whatever your goal might be.
PM: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
BH: This is kind of a win-win for our customers, it's a win-win for our employees, and we're very excited about what we're going to do as a new, combined entity.
For more information on CIC, visit www.corp-imaging.com.