If there’s anyone in the IT industry who knows about starting up and running a successful services business, it’s Peter Kazacos. The founder of the Kaz Group sold the business to Telstra in 2004 for a cool $333 million and worked for the telco giant right up until September 2006.
During that time, Kazacos had a vision as to what he would do after Telstra.
“After being there for two-and-a-half years, I thought there was an opportunity to focus on the SMB market with product offerings that covered both IT and telecommunications,” he said. “I wanted to try and focus on as much of the Australian landscape as possible, because most of the concentration of IT companies is focused predominantly in Sydney and Melbourne.”
So in February last year, Peter Kazacos Business Advantage (PKBA) was born, although the new venture didn’t formally launch itself into the market until July.
“The only reason for that was we wanted to get it to a certain level of presence and we did that through a sequence of acquisitions,” Kazacos said.
Along the way, PKBA picked up companies such as South Australia-based Microsoft partner, Pecol, Tasmanian IT services provider, Comstra, and Queensland integrator, CWS. Later on, PKBA also acquired technology services company, Invizage, and Townsville-based Lane Technical Services.
Making so many acquisitions within a short space of time certainly hasn’t come without its challenges. Setting everything up again and re-establishing the company’s position with key suppliers were just a couple of hurdles PKBA had to persevere through.
“By the end of that calendar year we had acquired five companies, which gave us a footprint in all states and a customer base of around 6000 to 7000. That was the nice bit,” Kazacos said. “But then came the hard part in looking through all that and trying get all the back-end systems as uniform as possible, because with certain acquisitions they were using different systems. We thought one of the best things to do was practice what we preached and use the products we sell.”
A lot of the companies Kazacos acquired were niche operators. His strategy was to inherit a loyal base of customers to sell them a more complete range of products.
“It’s starting to produce dividends, which is what we’re very excited about,” he said. “Some of these regional areas have a significant buying opportunity but are not on the normal map for business.”