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May 25, 2009 – A high-profile, high-tech move

May 25, 2009
Filed under Features

By Karin Gelschus
Associate Editor
ARI, provider of electronic parts catalogs, dealer Web sites and marketing services, acquired the assets of Channel Blade Technologies Corp., a provider of Web sites, lead management and marketing automation solutions in the marine and recreation vehicle markets.
The acquisition aims to better service both companies’ customers through a wider range of products in the powersports, marine and RV industries, says Jon Lintvet, Channel Blade’s CEO.
“When we bring these two together, right out of the gates folks are going to have some tools that they can’t get elsewhere,” he told Powersports Business, “and that’s the reason this makes sense all the way around.”
The acquisition is expected to add more than $3.5 million in revenue to ARI, Roy Olivier, ARI’s president and CEO, said in a press release.
Lintvet added, “The ability for us to have a higher top-line revenue number through the combining of the companies and providing better value product particularly through these challenging times, we know is going to be very, very well received.”

Expanding product offerings
The combination of Channel Blade’s presence in the RV and marine industries, and ARI’s presence in the powersports industry allows the companies, “to go both broader and deeper within the markets we serve,” said Lintvet.
Both companies are able to fill areas the other wasn’t as strong in, says Mike Tenpas, vice president of sales for ARI. “We have had the desire to enter the marine industry for quite some time,” said Tenpas. “Really we found it difficult to enter the industry because of the position Channel Blade held.”
The combination of being well known in different industries and varying products made the acquisition a “match made in heaven,” said Chuck Lewis, Channel Blade’s president.
The companies’ products compliment one another well, says Tenpas. “We had yet to develop a product like (the lead management product), so immediately (Channel Blade) helped the ARI customer base,” he said. “Channel Blade had yet to do e-commerce for their Web sites for their dealers. ARI has a pretty strong e-commerce focus. We believe we can quickly integrate that technology into the Channel Blade customer base to be able to help them be more successful.”
A considerable amount of time will be devoted to integrating the companies’ technological components, says Lintvet. “We’re really going to make sure our focus is on our customers jointly,” he said, “and we’re doing things that are going to advantage them in the market place and allow them to grow. The technology piece is going to be one component of that integration.”
Combining the companies’ technological platforms aims to make doing business easier and more convenient for its customers, which is a primary purpose of the acquisition, adds Lewis. Although specific dates aren’t finalized, Channel Blade’s customers will soon be able to gain access to ARI’s e-commerce and Web site marketing capabilities. And ARI’s customers will soon have access to Channel Blade’s manufacturer and dealer lead generation and marketing automation solutions.
To help introduce these products, ARI said it would make “a special PartSmart catalog offer” available to the Channel Blade customer base.
Plus, the companies plan to expand beyond the products they currently offer, says Tenpas.
“We intend to grow the marine business beyond what Channel Blade has grown it to at this particular point,” he said. “It’s our desire to take some of the things that have been cued up in Channel Blade and help them execute quicker, faster and better.”
Tenpas says the first step in the acquisition process is understanding Channel Blade’s customers and their needs.
“Right now we’re really trying to get a detailed understanding of the Channel Blade business and a really great understanding of the Channel Blade customers, which is the most important thing to us,” Tenpas said. “We have really yet to announce an employee plan. At this particular point, we haven’t fully mapped it out.”
Currently the differences between the companies’ products are quite distinct, but Lintvet says that’s not always going to be the case. “The destination has to be mapped out and working closely as a new, larger organization is going to allow us to plot that destination,” he said.

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