Virtual Systems and PagePath Merge to Create Print Reach
Today marks the official announcement of the merger of Virtual Systems, and PagePath Technologies, with the new combined company dubbed Print Reach, Inc.. The two companies, which both offer MIS systems for the print industry, see this as a way to combine forces and serve a much greater audience than either could alone.
“The vision behind this merger is two things,” said Chris Huber, former president of Virtual Systems and the CEO of the new entity, on a webinar earlier this week. “First is having a product set that reaches all sizes of businesses in the industry — from a one- to 25-person shop, then in the Midnight platform you might have up to a 200-person shop, so we’re covering a wide array there. But it is also about a broader set of functions for the workflow.”
As of today, he noted, the combined product suite now offers storefront, MIS/CRM, fulfillment and postage capabilities. Functions such as workflow management, engagement, imposition, production monitoring/machine interfacing and shipping are all on the immediate horizon as growth areas. Further out, potential new features might include services such as lead gen capabilities, marketing automation tools, data hygiene tools and more.
The excitement for the merger, he noted, is that now customers will have access to a much broader range of tools, with a suite of products designed to help a print shop run more efficiently from end-to-end.
“We are both coming off of strong years,” noted Greg Witek, former PagePath president, and the COO of Print Reach. “This is a merger about success, building a business, and adding employees, rather than squeezing out duplication.”
The executives were quick to note that all the current product lines from both companies will continue to be serviced under the Print Reach banner, including Midnight Print & Mail MIS, Midnight Fulfillment, and Mail-Shop from Virtual Systems; and MyOrderDesk and Printer’s Plan from PagePath. The goal in the first year will be to “prove out the model of this merger,” said Nate Burns, director of sales for Print Reach. “We are going to capture synergy revenue we wouldn’t have as individual companies. One example is to leverage the Midnight customer base that don’t currently have storefronts by selling MyOrderDesk to them. In addition, we will now have an upgrade path from Printer’s Plan and others who have outgrown their current MIS.”
Further out, Adam Witek, the director of customer experience for Print Reach, noted that in the two- to three-year window he sees value in having a fully integrated suite of products. “A true front to back end suite that will support shops from the smallest to the largest,” he said. To accomplish that, he noted that while the next year will be focused on creating even tighter integrations between the existing products than those that already exist, in years two and three he anticipates they will begin to look at acquisitions to build out the functionality and fill in the gaps where their current lineup doesn’t cover right now. “There is industry opportunity when it comes to CRM and automation,” said Adam Witek. “We are excited about those opportunities as we look out two to three years.”
While the official launch of the new company is happening May 1, the talks between Virtual Systems and PagePath began in April 2018. The executives noted that the strategic planning for how to merge the two strong entities happened between July 2018 and March 2019, with the final legal documentation completing on April 1.
“True mergers are unique these days,” said Huber. “I can’t recall hearing about one recently — it’s usually acquisitions. But this is a true business merger of equals. For the first time in 23 years, I have a business partner.”
And for those wondering what will happen to the Virtual Systems bus — Huber noted that it isn’t going anywhere. They plan to re-wrap it with the new Print Reach logo and will continue to use it as a customer outreach tool. To date, the bus has reached 134 shops across the country, parking in front and cooking free lunch for the employees. According to Huber, the bus doesn’t sell anything or offer demos — it is strictly a way to connect with customers, see how they use the products in the real world, and get feedback on what they can be doing better.
“Part of this deal was that Greg had to be one of the first people to learn how to drive the bus and become certified,” laughed Huber. “This is a customer engagement thing — we cook for anywhere from 15 to 350 people, and we see our software in action. There has been so much information fused back into Midnight based on what we see. It wouldn’t be near as robust and feature rich if we hadn’t done that.” And that approach to customer relationships is something that Print Reach will continue for the entire lineup of combined products.
“From early days there were synergies between the companies,” said Greg Witek. “Our cultures are very similar, and you don’t see that much anymore. But both were one-owner, grassroots businesses that had been around from more than 20 years. And there is something about the way the employees interact with each other and with clients; there is so much overlap, it is perfect for connecting together. [The merger] will allow both of us to do more to help these customers. We wouldn’t be where we are if the sole goal was to make money and scurry off. We have some customers who have been with us since the beginning. We feel like we’re attached to them. And for us to become Print Reach was a natural evolution.”
The new combined company’s website can be found at http://printreach.com/, with more details on the entire product line, as well as further details about the merger.