Sought-after Software Enterprises

It is a seller’s market these days for small software companies. Kevin Chowning has experienced this growing demand firsthand. In the 1990s he was part of an Athens-based software company called The Pinnacle Group. The firm had revenues of approximately $24 million, he says, when it was sold in 1997 to Computer Sciences Corp., a multi-billion-dollar international firm. In 2001, Chowning became one of the founders of Summit Technology, a health care-focused, consulting and managed services firm specializing in PeopleSoft, ERP and Oracle Cloud applications. Kevin-ChwningOnce again the company experienced steady growth, and by 2015 there was a desire by Summit executives to partner with a larger firm. But this time, Chowning says, there were enough potential suitors that the company could be choosy.

“There definitely is a market for smaller businesses to sell,” Chowning says. “When we made the decision to do this, we hired a broker to put us in front of some larger firms and investors. We had a fair amount of interest from some firms that looked at us purely as an investment play. We didn’t want that. We were looking for a firm that had a similar management style as us.”

So instead of jumping at the first or biggest offer, Summit, with $15 million in annual revenues in 2015, was comfortable being acquired by Emtec, a Pennsylvania-based consulting firm with revenues of approximately $100 million. Chowning says this move allowed Summit to grow while still maintaining the company’s original smaller feel and attitude.

“I can call the CEO today and he’ll answer my call. That wouldn’t have happened with some (of the potential buyers),” says Chowning, who is now the vice president of professional services. “From the initial meeting we had with Emtec, it was apparent that our cultures were really aligned in terms of our goals and the way employees and clients are treated. Their focus on those attributes was important. Emtec has what it calls a ‘client for life’ attitude to serving customers, and that was something that I really appreciated,” says Chowning, noting that the emphasis is on long-term relationships and extension of services rather than one-time sales.”

This story was originally featured in Business Alabama.



Deanna Evers
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