Smartrak Case Study
- Headquarters: Hamilton, New Zealand
- Acquisition Date: March 2017
- Vertical Market: Asset Management & Logistics
- Visit Company Website
Founded in 2006 by a husband and wife team, Smartrak was created with a vision of building a superior GPS fleet management system for the Australasian market.
Over its 10 years of operation, the business had been profitable and demonstrated consistent growth. However, as Smartrak’s owners neared retirement, they found themselves at an inflection point. In order to take Smartrak to the next stage of growth, they would either need to make a large investment in the business or seek an acquirer with sufficient capital and expertise to overcome their next growth hurdle.
From my perspective as a professional manager, the business was at a point where it really needed to take the next step. We were outgrowing ourselves and needed to find an acquirer that could allow us to flourish.
The Decision to Sell
In 2016, Volaris Group identified Smartrak as a high value acquisition prospect and approached the leadership team about the potential opportunity. The owners were pleased to learn about our philosophy, values and approach to running software businesses. Given that Volaris already had a portfolio of Asset Management businesses, they felt confident that we could provide them with relevant processes and insights to make sustainable improvements.
After several months of ongoing discussions, Smartrak’s owners decided that Volaris Group would be a fitting home for the company and settled on the idea of selling the business to take a step towards retirement. Smartrak’s owners appointed a small internal team to help navigate the transaction. The team consisted of some of their key executives, including, CEO, Troy O’Connor. After spending the past 2 years as CEO of Smartrak, Troy was thrilled by the acquisition as he recognized that it would allow him and his team to achieve their ambitious growth targets. Troy partnered with his board and the M&A team throughout the acquisition process, while also working closely with Volaris’ leadership team to set milestones and goals that they’d strive towards post-acquisition.
As a leader, you always want to give your high performers new opportunities. Sometimes in a small family run business, employees can run out of runway. I’m thrilled that my team now have access to infinite opportunities they would not have otherwise had.
After the close of the transaction, Troy and his team immediately leveraged the support and mentorship offered by their new parent. Together, Volaris and Smartrak improved their marketing operations and started product related initiatives to deepen their vertical market offerings. As Volaris has over 50 companies in their existing portfolio, they have established a well thought-out process to manage initiatives that has been crafted and perfected over decades. Smartrak reaped the benefit of these processes and was finally able to make the changes that were needed to achieve the longer term, sustainable growth that they had been seeking for quite some time.
“Capital itself is not that hard to find, but smart capital is. That is what is special about Volaris; they know how to make key investments, while still measuring and maintaining the core business. Today, all the things that we wanted to do we have done with the help of Volaris. Now Smartrak is in a position where we can thrive,” said Troy.
Post-acquisition Troy and his team have been the most excited about the opportunity to leverage the larger organization for support, while still continuing to thrive independently. Since Volaris Group has a highly decentralized structure, Smartrak retains ultimate responsibility and empowerment to deliver on the milestones and goals that they have set out, while still reaping the benefits of having financial support and guidance from their new parent.
“By joining Volaris Group, we’ve really gotten the best of both worlds. I still get to run the business and be accountable for my operations, while also gaining access to the experience that is available across the larger organization. It’s rare to be able to run your business in a very autonomous way and also have access to proven knowledge and expertise of a corporate parent,” said Troy.
By joining Volaris, Troy has also found that his employees have access to greater opportunities and professional development experiences that they would not have otherwise had inside the small business. Although he and his team are laser focused on organic growth and new product initiatives for the moment, the opportunity to pursue M&A opportunities of their own down the road is an exciting prospect for his senior leaders.