Plano Tech Consulting Firm Advances Strategic Growth With Acquisition of Midwest Software Company

It's the 10th overall acquisition—and the second this year—for Plano-based Improving. The company's fast-track growth has been steady: It just landed on the Inc. 5000 list for the 11th time since its launch in 2007.

Curtis Hite Improving

Improving, a Plano-based tech consulting and training firm with offices across North America, today announced it has acquired Object Partners, a custom software development firm based in in Minneapolis.

The deal comes on the heels of Improving’s acquisition of Austin nearshore development firm iTexico in June and this week’s release of the 2020 Inc. 5000 rankings, where Improving landed for the 11th time since its launch in 2007.

Fast-growing Improving says its newest deal can expand its geographic reach in the Midwest and add to its bottom line.

CEO Curtis Hite anticipates the transaction will increase annualized revenue of more than 25 percent this year and looks for a combined annualized revenue that exceeds $150 million. “The transaction was primarily cash, but included material earnout incentives and equity in Improving,” he told Dallas Innovates in an email. 

The Object Partners deal is the company’s 10th acquisition overall, and its second this year, according to Kristin Johnson, who is VP of marketing at Improving. “Object Partners is bringing 200 professionals into the Improving brand making our headcount a little over 1,000 Improvers,” she said.

The company says it will join forces with the Object Partners team to grow its technology service capabilities and better serve the Twin Cities region.

CEO Hite uses the phrase “join forces” with intention. There’s a mutual benefit of merging businesses that have similar company values, he previously said in Dallas Innovates. The company’s innovative business growth strategy puts a focus on merging technology service companies that share a commitment to building trust, delivering excellence, and cultivating culture.

Hite calls it an “Enterprise Strategy” model. “Improving’s strategy is to grow its top line through a combination of organic growth and mergers, with 10-30 percent annually through acquisitions,” the CEO told Dallas Innovates.

But, according to Hite, “one of the most important considerations for Improving is cultural fit, and this can limit the number of companies we consider on an annual basis,” he said. “Before Object Partners and iTexico, it had been nearly 18 months since we had found a partner that made sensei in our model.”

Hite noted Object Partners’ alignment of values with Improving, and its commitment to excellence in a statement. Its strong company culture and expertise in custom software solutions are an asset, he said. 

He also noted Object Partners’ depth in the health care sector, which could strengthen the company’s capabilities in what the CEO called “a strategic vertical in North America.”

The Object Partners leadership team will remain intact, according to Improving. Object Partners will continue to operate and grow the business, and will now have access to the full range of Improving’s collective offerings. 

Chris Spurgat, who is president of Object Partners, looks forward to joining the “Improving family” and bringing its expertise to a larger customer base.

Improving’s portfolio of acquisitions is focused on Agile, Microsoft (.NET), and Java technologies, the company previously said.

Dallas-based Trinity Hunt Partners, a growth-oriented middle-market private equity firm with majority interest in Improving, announced its partnership with the company in 2018. That deal was expected to accelerate Improving’s growth through what it calls “organic initiatives” and acquisitions.

“Our relationship with Trinity Hunt Partners has been an exciting path of alignment,” Hite said. “They truly understand our company purpose of positively changing the perception of the IT professional, and have been able to support our growth in a variety of different ways.”

Of its ranking on the Inc. 5000 list for 2020 (No. 2,737 on the fast-growing private company list this year), Improving’s Mark Kovacevich, President of North America, said the company’s culture centered around involvement.

“Our motto is surround yourself with great people and share the rewards. This philosophy has allowed us to continue to grow and expand, even in times that are as tough as they are right now,” he said.

It would seem to be working: the company has ranked consecutively on the list since 2009, with one exception in 2018.

While companies aim for the kind of growth trajectory that Improving has had, Kovacevich says Improving’s commitment to its philosophy of Conscious Capitalism and its collective ambition to build environments of trust are part of it stand-out advantages. 

“Both of those items are central to our identity and pivotal to our growth. In fact, if you look at our web site (Improving.com), the first thing you see is “Trust Changes Everything,'” he said. “Building trust is our first and most important job every day. Furthermore we have a focus on a stakeholder ecosystem, not just our shareholders.”

Kovacevich believes that creates an opportunity for the company to serve a broad set of stakeholders—and share the success of its business with suppliers, the industry, and its communities.

“With those elements in place, we have seen fantastic growth since our inception,” he said.

Improving was founded by CEO Hite in 2007, when Hite and other partners established a company called Blue Ocean Group. It then acquired a small training company called Improving Enterprises, and quickly adopted the Improving name.

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