Prairie push: Ottawa's Fully Managed acquires second Calgary-based IT firm

Joel Abramson
Joel Abramson is the chief strategy officer of Ottawa-based IT services firm Fully Managed. Photo courtesy Joel Abramson

For the second time in less than 18 months, an Ottawa-based IT firm is fuelling its ambitious growth agenda by acquiring a company in Canada’s oil and gas capital.

Fully Managed said this week it’s finalized a deal to buy Wappo Information Services, a Calgary-based provider of IT and cloud solutions that specializes in serving small and medium-sized businesses that use Microsoft’s Azure platform.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. 

Fully Managed chief strategy officer Joel Abramson said that while Wappo is a relatively small operation with nine employees, its acquisition helps fill a significant niche in his company’s service offerings.

His firm already boasts significant expertise in helping customers manage Microsoft workplace software applications such as Outlook and Teams. 

But Azure, a cloud-based computing system with hundreds of applications, is a complex platform to manage, Abramson explained. In Wappo, Fully Managed has found a business that’s mastered it. 

'They'll bring a lot of value'

“Finding a group like Wappo that has pivoted to focus almost entirely on their Azure practice … they’ll bring a lot of value,” he said.

The deal follows Fully Managed’s acquisition of another Calgary-based firm, TWT Group, which it bought in February 2020.

“It’s an attractive market for us because it has the second-highest concentration of head offices in Canada,” Abramson explained.

Founded in 2006, Fully Managed now has about 375 employees in Canada and the U.S., 70 of them in its home base of Ottawa. In addition to its Calgary operations, the firm also has offices in Edmonton, the Greater Toronto Area, London, Ont., Summerside, P.E.I., and Vancouver.

The company is a leader in the field of managed IT, which uses cloud-based software and remote monitoring technology to assist customers without requiring support workers to be physically on site. The firm also has a senior care division that produces touch-screen devices and mobile workstations, allowing health-care professionals to access patient records at their fingertips. 

This week’s deal is just the latest in a string of mergers and acquisitions for the company, which was formerly known as TUC.

In early 2016, it combined with senior care technology provider CareWorx, which produces touch-screen devices and mobile workstations that allow health-care professionals to access patient records at their fingertips. 

Three years later, the firm ​– then known as CareWorx ​– acquired Vancouver-based Fully Managed Technology in a bid to further grow its market base and expand its offerings.

Early last year, the company secured $25 million in venture financing in an effort to penetrate deeper into the U.S. market.

Expansion drive paying off

Abramson said Fully Managed’s southern expansion drive is bearing fruit. About 60 per cent of its revenue growth in 2020 was driven by customers in the U.S., he said, adding those clients now account for about 40 per cent of the firm’s total income.

While overall growth was down somewhat during the pandemic, Abramson said Fully Managed still ended up posting a revenue increase of 15-20 per cent last year.

Although on-site work such as firewall installations dropped off in the wake of measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, “people found it was a good time to invest in their back-end systems,” he said.

Looking ahead, Abramson hinted that Fully Managed will be announcing an even bigger M&A deal involving another Canadian company in the near future.

“We’re always working on what the next phase of growth looks like,” he said. “This is a high-growth story, and we’ve got some pretty lofty goals.”