ADA — Century Technology Group LLC looks to reload by pursuing acquisitions of technology companies that it can grow.
The Ada-based company — a family office for Grand Rapids businessman and entrepreneur Keith Harrold — made two acquisitions in 2020 and is “getting close” on two more, one of which is under a letter of intent, President Dana Jacks said.
The company wants to acquire companies that are technology focused or “can be bent toward technology or utilize some type of technology in their go-to market,” Jacks said. Acquisition targets as well would “have a strong, hungry management team” that could “use some rounding out or could use some help in certain areas,” she said.
“What we’re looking for is something that has good bones and potential. They have a value proposition that makes sense and that can evolve and grow if it were accelerated with some capital, and has a good management team and they want to build something,” she said. “We really want to grow stuff.”
Century Technology Group’s return to acquisition mode comes more than two years after the divestiture of its last prior portfolio company, Data Strategy LLC, to Miami-based private equity firm H.I.G. Capital in August 2018. Data Strategy — originally founded by Harrold, Century Technology Group’s CEO — at the time had sales of more than $400 million, Jacks said.
The investment firm is now using the liquidity from the Data Strategy deal to pursue acquisitions of tech companies, Jacks said.
Century Technology Group has been looking at companies that typically have annual sales ranging from $3 million to $50 million, and will make investments in the Midwest with a preference toward West Michigan-based companies.
“Right now our focus is mostly West Michigan. That’s where our roots are,” Jacks said. “As we reload we’re going to stay a little closer to home and build out from there. We understand the people, we understand the clients, and it’s our home. And the second time around as we go through this is not about us being operators anymore — it’s about lifting and elevating management teams of the companies that are in our portfolio.”
Century Technology Group presently holds two portfolio companies: Inno-Versity, an Ada-based company that provides customized instruction and training to clients; and Mutually Human LLC, a custom software and applications developer in Grand Rapids that it acquired in November.
At the time of the deal, Century Technology Group Executive Vice President Jason Kuipers said Mutually Human “fits perfectly with our vision of growing a leading software development and application modernization services business and adds to our charter of investing in growth-oriented technology services businesses.”
Jacks cites Inno-Versity, acquired in August 2019, as a “great example” of Century Technology Group’s interest in companies that “can be bent toward technology.” Inno-Versity’s custom learning programs for higher education and Fortune 500 companies have been adaptable to technology for remote learning.
“We’re introducing concepts such as ARVR (augmented reality and virtual reality) and gamification into what they’re doing, or helping them with the delivery of some of these custom-learning programs,” Jacks said. “It’s really been fun to not only watch how they’ve been able to evolve, but how they’re servicing their clients and the rejuvenated energy in the company. The sales team has more to sell and there’s a lot more thought leadership coming from the creative side because they have more options to offer.”
The technology sector that Century Technology Group operates in ranked as one of the top areas for activity in 2021 in law firm Dykema’s annual M&A survey.
Technology ranked among the sectors where corporate executives and M&A professionals expect the most activity this year, behind health care and automotive and ahead of consumer products and financial services, according to the annual survey released in November.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to show that Century Technology Group is interested in companies with sales typically up to $50 million.