CCSI Compucom Canada wants to keep moving up

Get your foot in the door, prove your capabilities, and earn the right to drive more presence through other solutions. That’s the formulae that has driven CCSI Technology Solutions‘ success to date and, with a recent acquisition and recent recognition, the way it hopes to continue to grow in the future.

Based in Mississauga, Ont., CCSI is an IT managed services provider and offers IT outsourcing, infrastructure management, systems integration and consulting services, as well as hardware and software procurement and management. The company has 550 employees in nine offices across Canada and a network operations centre and service desk in Mississauga that supports more than 257,000 desktops, 111,000 laptops and nearly 18,000 servers.

The former ITS division of GE, CCSI was acquired by Dallas, Tex.-based CompuCom in 2004 and competes with systems integrators such as EDS and CGI and resellers such as Compugen and Metafore.

It has been a busy year so far for the company says Phil Soper, CCSI’s vice-president and general manager. In March, CCSI acquired SaltSpring Software, a London, Ont.-based dedicated hardware and software reseller.

The key attraction to SaltSpring, says Soper, was its Microsoft Large Account Reseller (LAR) status. LAR status was something CCSI had long sought, but with Microsoft seeking to limit the number of LARs in the Canadian market he says acquisition was the best way to get there.

“This is huge opportunity for us to grow our software business,” said Soper. “We anticipate the software business will be a strong growth area for us.”

A long time partner of Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO), CCSI was also recognized by the vendor as its top services partner if the year in Canada at the Cisco partner conference in April. Soper adds CCSI’s Cisco-based unified communications implementations have received consistently high customer satisfaction scores, and he expects to build CCSI’s Cisco business even larger with the validation the award brings.

“This recognition is a really significant step for CCSI because it recognizes us not just for customer satisfaction…but it combines customer satisfaction with performance,” said Soper. “It really says we’re growing-out our Cisco business and we have the competencies and the capabilities to sell and service Cisco.”

Besides Cisco, CCSI’s partners include vendors such as EMC, Nortel and Sun on the hardware side as well as Symantec, Citrix and Microsoft on the software side. CCSI’s approach though, says Soper, is not to sell products but to sell solutions.

“I don’t want to just sell you 100 notebooks,” said Soper. “Maybe I will if it’s easy for me to do, but what I really want to do is package services on top as a value-add.”

In 2007, CCSI dove $106 million in revenue through product sales and $39 million through services. Both are growing at roughly the same rate, but with a substantially higher margin on the services side Soper says his focus is on growing that area of the business, and increasing recurring revenue.

“In 2008 our challenge will be continuing to build on and grow at 20 per cent per year,” said Soper. “We’re going to do this by going wider and deeper with our current customers as well as acquiring new customers.”

CCSI’s approach is to leverage point solutions to earn the right to sell more integrated solutions wrapped around managed services, says Soper. For example, they might get their foot in the door through a desktop management agreement, and over time expand the relationship to include network management, service management and on-site support.

Western Canada has traditionally been a strong market for CCSI, which Soper says has a heavy presence in the oil and gas market. And after a shrinking presence in Quebec in recent years, CCSI is also expanding its Montreal operations to capitalize on growth opportunities there.

He adds while everyone is aware of the troubles in the manufacturing sector in Ontario and Central Canada, so far their growth in the region is still strong.

“It hasn’t impacted the business too much. If there’s been any impact at all it has been through the postponement of projects, and a wait and see approach to see what shakes out in the U.S,” said Soper. “Growth rates are still very strong in Central Canada.”

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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