AVI-SPL and Whitlock have jointly announced an intention to merge (technically, it’s a “definitive agreement to merge”) — both will be held by portfolio company, Marlin Equity Partners (a global investment firm with over $6.7 billion of capital under management). As you likely know, this means the second-largest AV integration firm is merging with the third-largest — jointly creating the biggest AV dealer globally. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the first quarter 2020. In conjunction with the merger, Marlin will become the majority stakeholder, with H.I.G. Capital co-investing through a minority equity stake. The two companies, together, will likely combine to become a $1.3 Billion company with over 3,400 employees around the world.
“This is an incredibly exciting new chapter for our company, our employees, and our customers,” said John Zettel, CEO of AVI-SPL. “AVI-SPL and Whitlock have always shared a mutual admiration and respect for one another due to our similar passion for innovation and commitment to providing world-class customer experiences. Combining these strengths, along with our talented employees, strong global partnerships, and worldwide resources, will ensure we continue to deliver the very best experience for our local and global customers undergoing digital transformations.”
In an exclusive call between rAVe and AVI-SPL’s John Zettel and Whitlock’s Doug Hall, we were told the new company would be called AVI-SPL. Zettel will remain CEO of the new company but that the rest of the leadership team is still being decided.
“I do believe when you look at Whitlock and AVI-SPL … we have the same DNA of where we are coming from,” Zettel said. “You can look back at the acquisitions before this merger. Both offices (AVI and SPL) were well-performing offices with full capabilities that were needed to serve the customer base of both offices combined. That’s the general philosophy of this merger as well.”
“For years, we’ve competed with AVI-SPL,” said Whitlock CEO Doug Hall. “We’ve worked hard on the culture for our team … we always felt like we were extremely unique in how we did that. Now that we’ve had the chance to dig a little deeper, we’ve realized both companies share that (culture).”
Of course, we asked both how they will go about merging these two entities where there are overlapping regional offices and Zettel responded that they are working on a plan but, due to Gun Jumping regulations, they can’t release any specifics until the merger is complete — to be finalized by the end of Q1, 2020 (i.e., March 30).
We then asked about employees and the retention of them considering the natural nervousness around mergers and Zettel responded, “Whitlock manages their teams well and we manage our teams well and there is a need to [continue] to serve our customers.”
Indicating how important that people are to this merger, Hall added, “… it’s the people (inside our companies) that earn the reputation we have.”
Upon closing, current Whitlock customers will have access to AVI-SPL’s 24/7 Global Services Operation Centers, as well as new remote management and monitoring capabilities provided by AVI-SPL’s proprietary Symphony offering. The combination will also form the industry’s most certified (AVIXA CTS) team of engineers and technicians that are uniquely capable of offering organizations valuable insight and expertise for their vital technology deployments.
Alex Beregovsky, a managing director at Marlin, added, “The digital workplace services industry has an incredible amount of untapped potential. The combined company significantly benefits from deeper resources, broader technology expertise and enhanced local presence. We look forward to partnering with the AVI-SPL and Whitlock teams to help them fully reach their potential and ensure customer success around the world.”