Evergreen Services Group, a family of services businesses, has invested in Wolf Consulting LLC, a well-known managed IT services provider in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. Financial terms were not disclosed. CEO Lloyd Wolf and the entire 32-person team remain in place to drive additional growth, the companies say.
Wolf and I have known each other casually for roughly a decade — bumping into each other at IT conferences and peer group meetings throughout North America. Wolf is humble, soft spoken and always smiling when we meet. Peers have often told me not to underestimate Wolf’s mild-mannered disposition at conferences — suggesting that his company is one of the best-run MSPs in Pennsylvania.
Evergreen Services Group apparently agrees. In a follow-up interview about the deal, Wolf and Evergreen CEO Jeff Totten describe how they came together, why they’re working together, and potential opportunities ahead. The conversation is below.
Photo of the senior the senior management team of Wolf Consulting with CEO Lloyd Wolf, and the management team of Evergreen Services Group with CEO Jeff Totten.
ChannelE2E: Let’s start with some pre-deal background. How has Wolf Consulting evolved since launching in 1989?
Wolf: When I started the business in 1989 (29 years ago), it was a part-time effort and I was focused on developing custom dBaseIII+ database programs for local small businesses. I starting devoting full-time efforts to the business in 1992. After a little while, my custom programming clients started asking to run their custom database programs on multiple computers in the office, which led me to get into networking. By the mid 1990’s, I was spending more time on networking and computer support than I was on programming.
I started hiring additional technical staff to support the company’s networking clients in the late 1990’s. We started with our first version of managed services as “pre-scheduled monthly onsite support visits” in the early 2000’s. I invested in my first RMM software tool in 2008, and that was when I first started charging clients a flat-fee per server, per computer, etc.
We continued to grow our staff and our number of clients. Around 2010, we started our full-fixed-fee service offering, where we provided all of the proactive, reactive, onsite and remote support for a fixed month fee, and that has been the majority of our focus since then.
ChannelE2E: When and how did Evergreen Services Group and Wolf Consulting discover each other?
Totten: Evergreen discovered Wolf Consulting in October 2017 when our team was looking for a leading MSP to back in the greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. Based on an introductory call it was clear to Evergreen that Wolf Consulting is a leader in the market and a uniquely well operated MSP. That led us to schedule an in-person visit in late October 2017.
ChannelE2E: When did your teams get serious about an investment relationship?
Totten: At our in-person meeting in late October it was clear that we had strong cultural fit. Wolf was the exact type of company that Evergreen want to partner with. Lloyd is the exact type of person that we want to partner with. Lloyd demonstrated to us in that meeting that he leads a uniquely well operated MSP with strong company culture, a high-performing team and a maniacal focus on exceptional customer service
Another point in the process that gave us confidence in our investment thesis involved a client satisfaction survey: Wolf has a 100 percent NPS (Net Promoter Score), higher than Amazon, Netflix, Apple and other leading brands — which is a testament to Wolf’s unparalleled level of service.
Wolf: I have had the privilege of being involved with HTG Peer Groups since 2010. Besides HTG helping me with industry performance metrics, technology best practices and general business planning, [HTG Senior VP] Arlin Sorensen stressed legacy planning – both personal and business. Arlin and the members of my HTG22 Peer Group have helped me over the years to understand my goals. I knew the valuation and payments structure that I wanted, and I knew what outcome I wanted for the business.
Specifically, I wanted to preserve jobs for my employees, and I wanted to preserve our company culture and core values. I didn’t want the company to end up being a remote office for a super-size MSP who might impose their toolsets and technology standards on our technical staff, who might impose their service offerings on our clients, who might cut a lot of jobs in order to increase profits, and who might impose their company culture on our staff that remained. Simply put, I wanted “business as usual” for the company, its staff and its clients.
When I met with Jeff and his team at Evergreen, it quickly became clear to me they were the partner I had been waiting for. They recognized the successful team and service delivery model we had put together, and wanted to ensure our team, our mission and core values, and the results we deliver to our clients remained the same – and they wanted to help our team and our company grow in the future.
Once we both knew the other was the firm we had been waiting for, we both committed to a quick timeframe for due diligence and closing. Evergreen made it easy to complete the transaction quickly and without a major disruption to my business.
ChannelE2E: How will Wolf Consulting benefit from the investment? New hires? New technologies/capabilities? Potential acquisitions?
Totten: First and foremost, it’s “business as usual” at Wolf Consulting and the company will continue to operate independently and retain its core values, all of its staff, and operational autonomy.
The investment will facilitate new investments in growing the technical and leadership team and will facilitate additional investment in growing Wolf’s service offering and client base.
ChannelE2E: Will Wolf Consulting continue to focus mainly on Pittsburgh or expand beyond the region?
Wolf: Wolf Consulting will continue to focus on Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and has plenty of room to grow within the Pittsburgh market.
ChannelE2E’s Conclusion: No doubt, Wolf Consulting remains focused like a laser on the Pittsburgh market. And Evergreen wants to see that investment perform well. But the investment dollars likely won’t end there. According to Totten, “Evergreen will be making further investments in MSPs across the U.S. where it can serve as a capital partner while leaving operational autonomy to the company in which we invest.”
ChannelE2E will be watching for more potential moves…