Manitoba Telecom Services believes it has gained a leg up on its competitors by acquiring a local information-technology firm whose specialties include designing, installing and maintaining IT systems for local businesses.
MTS president Kelvin Shepherd said the acquisition of Winnipeg-based Epic Information Solutions will enable MTS to offer Manitoba businesses the most comprehensive suite of internet protocol (IP) communications services, including voice, data, wireless, and now IT infrastructure services.
"We do think this expands the service portfolio we can offer our customers," Shepherd said in an interview.
'We do think this expands the service portfolio we can offer our customers'
While other telcos have divisions that offer similar services, Shepherd said they aren't located in Manitoba and aren't Manitoba-focused. Epic, on the other hand, is headquartered here and 95 per cent of its business is in Manitoba.
Shepherd said there is very little overlap between the services MTS provides and the ones Epic offers.
"Epic's services complement and strengthen our existing business communications service portfolio," he said. "Working together, MTS and Epic will be even better positioned to meet customers' needs with combined IT and IP communications solutions, backed up with the best local expertise of any service provider in the province."
Shepherd emphasized Epic will operate as a separate, wholly owned subsidiary of MTS. Epic president and CEO David Reid and his current management team will continue to run the company, and all 90 employees will be retained.
"(This) is not about loss of jobs," Shepherd said, adding if anything, the deal should lead to the creation of new jobs as Epic grows its business.
Reid described the deal as the beginning of a new chapter in Epic's 18-year history.
"We need to grow the business," he explained. "With MTS's investment, we'll be able to grow our business faster, offer new solutions to our mutual customers and provide new opportunities for our employees."
He said it's difficult to predict how much business volumes and staffing levels might grow. That likely won't be known until meeting with MTS customers, determining what their needs are, and exploring "the different ways to wrap products together."
Epic has about 700 business customers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and Shepherd said MTS has about 35,000 business customers, ranging from small, operations to large corporations.
The possibility of MTS acquiring Epic had been under discussion, off and on, for about two years.
Shepherd said acquiring an existing IT firm made more sense than trying to build from within. He also noted a growing number of MTS customers are moving to cloud-computing, and Epic offers a complete portfolio of cloud-computing services.
Reid said it made more sense for Epic to become part of a larger operation such as MTS, with all its resources and access to capital, than continue trying to grow its customer base, products and services on its own.