When Wenger Corporation acquired the assets of 45-year-old SECOA, it did so with an eye toward the future.
“What we can benefit from this acquisition of the assets is that we have an opportunity to grow and pick up sales and their book of business, as it were,” said Chris Simpson, president and CEO of Wenger. “We have an opportunity to really leverage better resources. That’s an important point to this purchase. We’re adding some of their key team members and their related experience. We are able to take on a couple of their products that fit into our portfolio. That’s really a key element to what we’re doing.”
Simpson came on board at Owatonna, Minnesota-based Wenger five years ago, and has led a dynamic growth spurt for a company that provides innovative, high-quality products and solutions for music and theatre education, performing arts and athletic equipment storage.
“The genesis of even thinking about this goes back to what our base strategy is and what our vision is,” Simpson said. “It comes back to Wenger Corporation’s overall vision, which is to be a leading provider of products and services for the performing arts and education businesses on a global basis. That’s a big, broad vision. We understand what we have to do to go out there and do that. One of the things you have to do is grow. We clearly have a very aggressive growth strategy for the performing arts business.”
Wenger, which started in 1946, acquired J.R. Clancy five years ago, which put the company in the rigging business.
“Our product portfolio has expanded significantly with where we were pre-J.R. Clancy,” Simpson said. “We have audio, seating, acoustical, rigging and I could go on and on. The point is we have a broad and deep range of product offerings in the industry.”
Simpson said that while he has looked at what might make sense from an acquisition opportunity, the SECOA deal happened when he was approached by that company’s owners.
“I thought the similarities of business models was strikingly similar,” he said. “Therefore, we looked at how buying the assets of the company might make sense. That is one of the things to be clear about in that we didn’t buy SECOA, per se, but bought the assets of SECOA. That said, SECOA as a separate entity really will no longer exist. We have the rights to the SECOA brand and in fact we plan on using that on some of the select products that transferred over, but the business will be rolling up into the Wenger/J.R. Clancy business model.”
Simpson believes that the combination of retaining some talented individuals along with the business model he has purchased means only a positive future to build upon.
“There are some talented individuals we have coming on board who have long-term experience,” he said. “They are actually going to help us accelerate some of the abilities to really project manage and be a total integrator of more solutions for the performing arts space. SECOA has a business model that they’ve been running forever that we have had just over the last couple of years. That will help us jump-start even faster. But we just feel that the assets that we are acquiring as part of this deal clearly fits very well with what we’re doing.”