‘We are long term-oriented and are continuing to hire and grow our headcount as we build a dynamic platform from the four terrific companies that we have bought,’ says new ACP CreativIT CEO Matt Zafirovski. ‘We continue to invest to grow!’
New ACP CreativIT CEO Matt Zafirovski said the fast-growing $300-million company is continuing to invest to fuel growth through both acquisitions and its next-generation national technology solutions and services platform.
“We are long term-oriented and are continuing to hire and grow our headcount as we build a dynamic platform from the four terrific companies that we have bought,” said Zafirovski, who is continuing to evaluate mergers and acquisitions as the company builds out its national next generation services platform. “We continue to invest to grow! With our geographic expansion we now have a viable platform to deliver business outcomes with managed services, security, cloud and infrastructure services anywhere in the country.”
The company’s competitive advantage – the basis of its founding five years ago by The Zaf Group- remains its “in perpetuity” ownership model and the ability to acquire “great customer-obsessed companies with great people” that continue to be driven by the entrepreneurs that built those companies, said Zafirovski, who joined the company two and half years ago as chief operating officer to lead the company’s merger and acquisition strategy.
“We are at a very exciting point in the evolution of our company as we take the best capabilities from the four respective companies that we acquired to drive best in class outcomes for customers anywhere in the country,” said Zafirovski, who replaces former ACP CreativIT CEO Scott Dunsire, who was just named CEO Of Melillo Consulting. “We are a different type of company with a long term oriented view. We don’t believe in the concept of buying revenue. We believe in buying great companies comprised of great people that are customer obsessed. That remains our focus with our existing company of 330 people and with any future acquisitions. We want to retain the culture of these companies. Our competitive advantage and our value proposition is to keep our terrific people and to attract more terrific people and companies to our portfolio.”
ACP CreativIT is especially proud that it retained the original owner operators and top talent from the companies it has acquired, said Zafirovski. “We are very, very proud that we are fulfilling the ideal outcome of each of the owners of the heritage businesses,” he said. “No one has quit as a result of the acquisitions and we have not laid off anyone as a result of acquiring companies. We care about people and the legacy of these companies. That is the plan we have put together and what makes us a very dynamic and exciting company.”
The secret sauce of ACP CreativIT, in fact, is “harnessing the strength” of the four individual companies and their leaders with a business outcome national platform that sets the company apart from competitors, said Zafirovski. “There is unlimited potential as long as we do a great job of bringing together the inherent strengths and capabilities of each of the companies,” he said.
For example, ACP CreativIT acquired managed services superstar Citon Computer Corp in January 2022 and is in the process of rolling out that as the company’s next gen managed services platform across the country.
Versatile Communications, which ACP CreativIT acquired earlier this year, has deep networking roots and a dynamic cloud forward service with AWS and Azure that have now become part of the company’s national technology solutions and services platform.
“What we are doing is creating national practices with a common operating model and a common go to market services platform,” said Zafirovski. “This is all about a single model from the discovery phase to implementing and managing those technology solutions for our customers with a common platform.At the same time we want to retain our very strong regional go to market models.”
ACP CreativIT’s broad and deep expertise in all technology areas from end user devices to data center infrastructure to cloud and enterprise security is propelling robust sales growth, said Zafirovski. “We are growing all these areas,” he said. “We have expertise across every area of IT to help customers on their digital transformation journeys with positive business outcomes.”
As for future acquisitions, Zafirovski said he is continuing to build relationships with MSPs with an eye toward helping those companies achieve their goals as part of the ACP CreativIT family of companies. “Cultural fit is number one along with how we can help them. It’s all about showing them what our value add is to their business,” he said. “If there is a match we can combine to have a big positive impact on customers together.”
The Zaf Group’s long term-oriented focus is a sharp contrast from the many private equity companies that are looking to buy MSPs, cut costs and let the founders ride off into the sunset, said Zafirovski.“We are a different type of buyer,” he said. “That will not appeal to all sellers but for the folks that it does it will be a really special match and the cultural fit will be off the charts. We think we are the right buyer for a bunch of terrific companies out there. Our ask to founders looking to sell is: give us a shot to show you how we can meet your ideal business outcome.”
Zafirovski, a former management consultant at McKinsey & Co. and a one-time vice president and managing director of digital coupon provider Groupon, said he sees his role as CEO first and foremost as “listening” to employees and the entrepreneur owners who have deep industry experience.
Far too often, companies merely pay “lip service” to listening to employees, said Zafirovski. “If you want to be a people-first company you need to make sure you actually put people first and listen to them,” he said. “That is what is going to propel the company forward.”
Citon CEO Steven Dastoor, who is a member of the ACPCreativIT board of directors, said he is excited about the company’s future with Zafirovski at the helm.
“I have known Matt for four years and worked really closely with him over the last year,” he said. “Matt is a fantastic fit for this company. He knows the business incredibly well and understands who our customers are. We are very broad with amazing talent. This is really is an exciting opportunity for all of us.”
Dastoor said he is looking forward to Zafirovski continuing to build out a company that is able to serve customers of all kinds with a complete end to end modern services platform. “Customers want it all, they want to find ways to partner with companies that understand the breadth of the IT solutions stack and not just one piece of it,” he said. “That is exactly who we are at ACP CreativIT. That is why this is such a great opportunity. We have these practices and just keep adding best in class across the board. You can’t be a one trick pony anymore. You need a holistic platform and we have that at ACP CreativIT because of the work Matt started two years ago with the development of the practices and the practice leaders. We are in a really strong position. Now it is up to us to execute.”
Dastoor believes the best years are ahead for ACP CreativIT. “The opportunity for us is huge based on the way the market is pivoting to providers who can bring end to end solutions to them,” he said. “It has been a really great integration. It is not done. We have a lot of systems that we are continuing to work on and hone because if we get those right it will benefit the customers first, the employees second and the company third. That exactly how it should be. I am bullish about what we achieved so far and what we can achieve in the future.”
Camera Corner Connecting Point CEO Rick Chernick, who sold his 70 year old family run business four years ago to become part of ACP CreativIT, said the Zaf Group has fulfilled its promise of keeping the “passionate” leaders that built the individual businesses driving the company forward. “That never happens from what I have seen,” he said. “Most times a private equity firm comes in and buys companies, screws it up, sells it and moves on. The Zaf Group understands relationships and how important it is that the persons that started and are running these busineses continue to be involved. They get it. The Zaf family cares. They want us to sustain and grow the business with an opportunity for people in the company to grow within the organization. This is all about maintaining what we have worked so hard to build for the last 70 years.”
Chernick credited Zafirovski and the The Zaf Group with letting the companies they acquired do what they do best. “We are having fun and retaining our people and our customer base and picking up new customers everyday,” said Chernick, who took over his father’s camera store and built it into one of the top IT solution companies in the Midwest. “I told Matt when he took over as CEO I am here to mentor, advise him and assist him in any way I can. I will always tell him what I think. Matt is a good listener who has my 100 percent support.”
Zafirovski, for his part, said the key to ACP CreativIT’s success is maintaining the “entrepreneurial spirit” of companies like Camera Corner Connecting Point with a long term orientation and “relentless” focus on execution. “What I love about the hallmark of this company is our core companies have survived and thrived over decades in this business competing against behemoths every single day,” he said. “The DNA of our culture is that entrepreneurial spirit and grit. That is in our blood.”