SVG@NAB Perspectives: Diversified’s Kevin Collins on How Acquisitions, Rebrand Enhance Company’s Sports-Venue Expertise
Diversified hit the NAB Show floor this week with an entirely new look and feel; no longer known as Diversified Systems, the company now goes by the streamlined Diversified. (Yes, the punctuation is part of the brand.) With the rebrand, the company has joined its Diversified Media Group and Skyweb Digital Media business with Diversified Systems under one umbrella to better address the needs of its clients. Add in the recent acquisitions of Technical Innovation and The Systems Group, and Diversified has positioned itself as a force to be reckoned with in the global sports-venue market.
SVG sat down with Diversified EVP and COO Kevin Collins to chat about the acquisitions, the rebrand, and what it all means to the company’s commitment to sports-venue systems integration.
Diversified made headlines with the acquisitions of Technical Innovation (TI) and, more recently, The Systems Group (TSG). How has that affected your business?
It’s a really exciting time. I think Diversified, as a company, had reached a point where we [wondered] where we go from here? With the [acquisitions of] TI and TSG, we were really looking to accelerate our growth plan but, really, the key thing about those two acquisitions was the similarity in culture and engineering-driven sales approach. We’re very much focused on engineering and project management — that’s really the value that we bring — and we saw a lot of opportunity. We needed a lot of resources to keep up with the organic growth model that served us very well and had gotten us to $200 million in revenue, but we needed more depth in our management team and we needed more talent. With Technical Innovation, if you look at their geographic footprint, it was everywhere in the country where we wanted to grow the audio/visual or presentation side of our business, which is a big part of our business.
Sports is a local business. You need to have a local office and a local team to do an enterprise corporate [project], so we knew our growth path had to do with a geographic expansion, and, if you looked at the footprint of our existing Diversified offices and TI offices, it’s like two puzzle pieces — very little overlap — so that was definitely really exciting.
In the case of both TI and TSG, in TI’s case I think 76% of their customers we had never done business with before, so we really expanded our relationships, and with TSG, they had I’d say half their customers that we really didn’t do a lot of business with, so we’re really excited to get that opportunity. On the TSG side, their consulting group, their design group, their project management group are at a very elite level. We may have been larger in scale, but we were certainly equals in expertise, so it was really exciting to bring them into the fold.
How has it affected your sports venue business, specifically?
What we offer now, especially in the sports venue market, is the ability to bring in subject matter experts in any discipline. We definitely have projects we’re doing now where we’re literally doing every scope that is available from broadcast infrastructure from the truck dock to JBT boxes [and] the audio/visual. We can do digital signage, IPTV, large venue sound, the broadcast control room, coaches video, file-based workflows, media asset management, and it’s not one engineer being tasked to do all that — we literally assemble subject matter experts to bring to bear. We have projects going on now where we’re literally doing every scope like in Miami at Sun Life Stadium, Honda Center in Anaheim, and we’re doing a lot of work now with the Cubs. I think that what those clients see and enjoy is our ability to scale and bring in true experts that are truly certified and truly understand. It’s very exciting. We see the value we bring and the esprit du corps in our teams and I think we have a great value in this industry.
Are there any other sports-venue projects coming down the pike, either that you were working on prior to acquisition or that TSG brought in?
We didn’t acquire too much in sports through the acquisitions — I don’t think either TI or TSG were as big in sports vertical as we were. One thing that’s interesting about the sports vertical is, while the opportunities are great, it’s a small community and it is hard for an integrator who doesn’t have experience in sports to break in. Both TI and TSG can do broadcast engineering at the highest level, but a sports venue workflow and the unique needs of a sport venue take years of experience. I think one of the advantages with our team is we have a lot of engineers that come from production backgrounds, so when we sit in those design meetings, we understand game-day operations, we understand live events and challenges, and we want to come up with disaster scenarios — how we’re going to keep everything going. I think there’s a lot of comfort that comes from the team when they really start interacting with us; we have so much real-world experience and in a lot of the systems we built, we’ll leave engineers on site for the first [few] events. That experience year after year for those engineers, they really just understand the challenges of their operations.
In addition to the acquisitions, Diversified recently rebranded. What was the thinking behind transitioning from Diversified Systems to Diversified period?
We were looking forward to acquisitions and we were trying to project to the market who we really are. We used to run three different brands with three different management teams. [In addition to systems integrator Diversified Systems,] we had Diversified Media Group – an IT based team that works in content management and delivery over large networks, [and] primarily digital signage. And then we had Skyweb Digital Media, which was really our live content delivery and IPTV solutions, so whenever we did IPTV, we’d bring in Skyweb. We really merged all of that with our Diversified Systems business to say we are Diversified. This is our suite of services that we offer to better project the scope and scale of our talent and gain some efficiencies to get more collaboration between our project teams.