How A&A Extended From Copiers to Digital Data Centers
The paperless office hasn’t fully arrived. But digital offices — which need to manage documents and data across multiple formats — are certainly gaining momentum.
Amid that reality, A&A Office Systems pursued potential investments and acquisitions that would extend the company beyond traditional copier equipment, infrastructure and associated supplies. The result of that journey surfaced in April, when A&A acquired RECOL — a data center-centric service provider.
That deal paved the way for A&A to reposition itself in the office technology services market. Indeed, it opened up new opportunities to support businesses, municipalities, law firms and other organizations. The deal also lifted A&A’s revenues by about 10 percent, according to VP Barry Sullivan.
A&A certainly isn’t abandoning the copier and document management market. Indeed, supporting those solutions is now part of a bigger strategy at the company. “Our goal is to follow that document through its lifecycle and if it’s not being printed, where is it being stored?” Sullivan says. “How can be we be involved in that?”
Digital Documents in the Data Center
The IT services provider’s solution to that riddle: Examine the role of data centers in document sharing and storage. “In addition, we have been installing software solutions that compliment our copiers for years now. We were looking for the ability to offer these as a per device or SaaS model,” Sullivan said. “The data center will facilitate that.”
In addition to offering managed print services (MPS), remote monitoring, and security solutions, A&A now delivers a variety of cloud services: hosting, co-location, disaster recovery, SaaS, and remote enterprise content management.
“We want to provide additional added value services to our current customers,” Sullivan said. “Even more than that, though, is long-term viability as a company. A&A needs to adapt the changing business environment, which is printing less and digitizing more.”
A&A Office Systems, established in 1961, made a similar transition nearly 30 years ago — in the mid-1980s — when it began offering copiers as its original business platform. “Typewriters were being quickly pushed out by the computer,” he said.
Fast forward to present day. Copiers and printers aren’t disappearing. But overall sales among the big suppliers — HP Inc., Lexmark, Xerox and others — are falling. Simply put, customers are spending more time with digital content rather than printed content.
Transitioning to “Cloudsmart”
With those market dynamics in mind, A&A’s search to acquire another company began and ended with RECOL, a Brandford, Connecticut-based Internet service provider. “We were in talks for approximately six months before the deal,” said Sullivan, who played an instrumental role during the transaction.
Absorbing RECOL into its new “Cloudsmart” division, A&A expects to grow this part of the business by offering acquired solutions to its current customers and providing its existing services to recently acquired accounts.
Day-to-day operations of both businesses remaining the same for the most part. But there have been some minor changes. A&A’s headquarters in Middletown, Connecticut has taken on many of the company’s billing and administrative functions, while the data center in Brandford has scooped up responsibility for marketing efforts, monitoring 24×7 support, and managing clients.
“We are kicking off a summer-long education seminar schedule for the account managers at A&A to become educated on the services offered by the data center and how to question their accounts effectively to uncover opportunities that we have not looked for before,” Sullivan said. “Once these opportunities are uncovered a Cloudsmart specialist is engaged to drive the sale from there.”
We’ll be sure to check in on A&A’s progress in the months ahead.