After two years of discussion, Holmes Custom announces its acquisition of Central Florida Stamp and Sign, which was finalized on May 1st.CEO Brian Croft sheds light on how the deal was originally initiated and offers insight on the next steps.
“I’m a pretty social person, and I enjoy networking with peers that run businesses similar to mine,” Croft hints. Among the industry members he’s established relationships with is Jay Hoskins, former owner of Central Florida Stamp and Sign. “We’ve known each other for nearly 15 years,” he explains. “I probably told him back then that I wanted to acquire his company, and the time finally came that he was ready to retire.”
The way Croft sees it, it’s a win-win scenario. “We can either pay Google a certain amount of dollars to acquire customers for the products we manufacture, or I can reach out to those in my network who don’t want to play the eCommerce game and we can take on those customers … (With our company’s capabilities) we’re able to service those customers on all the stuff that Central Florida Stamp and Sign did for years while also exposing our entire catalog of products to new customers.”
However, this strategy isn’t always smooth sailing. “Integration is definitely a challenge,” he acknowledges. “Because our products are customized products, there are customers that don’t love to place orders online, so figuring out how to get them to place orders going forward and how our technology team can work with the customer to create a system for them is something that isn’t always easy at first.”
For an industry that consists largely of traditional mom-and-pop shops, what Croft says next is no surprise. “Jay has been in this industry for a long time, and when he has a customer call and say, hey, we need another name plate, he knows exactly what that is because he’s been making them for 30 years – he doesn’t need to write it down; it’s saved in his head.
“There’s a challenge in that, but typically that’s just with the first order. From there, we can integrate information into our system so (that in the future we have record of) what the customer likes – what style, what color, what font, all those kinds of things.”
Holmes Custom does have an integration team that handles these challenges and tries to stay ahead of them. Daniel Kellogg is leading all actions involved in this phase: from transferring phone numbers to working with long-time customers of Central Florida Stamp and Sign and understanding their needs.
Croft says the company continues to look for new opportunities to expand and assist business owners with their exit strategy.