Updated: Interview with Joe Grillo and Kim Loy
Management, New Owner See a Brighter Future
Triton Makes a Play for ACRE
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Mar 12, 2021
Catching up with Joe Grillo and Kim Loy is no easy task. I was anxious to hear comments about the recent acquisition, and the state of the industry, ACRE style.
The investment by Triton means that ACRE companies, Vanderbilt, Comnet and Razberi, now have a new owner, but with a new owner comes new and additional opportunities. The back story goes something like this. Joe Grillo founded ACRE in 2012, and after starting the group, there were eight acquisitions that evolved into the new company.
“This acquisition means that Triton will invest alongside the current management team at ACRE,” said Grillo, who serves at the CEO. “The partnership will allow us to continue to invest in innovation and bring our market-leading solutions to our customers.
“This was the right thing to do at this time because our previous investor, LLR Partners was coming to the end of their investment.”
A European company, Triton Funds invest in and support positive development of medium-size businesses. Triton was established in 1997.
“We expect to continue to grow, maybe faster because this is a bigger group,” Grillo said. “Triton spent time with us; to get to know us, our brands, customer base and our interest in the electronic access control vertical.”
The state of the industry, according to ACRE saw revenue off about 5% in 2020, but the future seems strong, and because of the diverse nature of ACRE’s business, Grillo said they will be able to service the pent up demands the end user will have, specifically in products such as visitor management, and other verticals. Any downturn in the market allowed management to learn how to operate safely.
Because the company is an essential business, they have been open during the pandemic, and see the future as strong and steady. The goal was to keep the doors open for business and keep people safe.
Tradeshows, well that might be anyone’s guess, and Loy offered a few well thought-out answers
Loy, who is the chief product officer at ACRE, said face-to-face events will pause a little longer, but will likely come back on a smaller scale. ISC West plans on a July event, which will hopefully happen, but Loy said, “Tradeshows will come back but on a smaller scale.
“Tradeshows are expensive, considering travel and entertainment costs. I think we see fewer tradeshows overall and perhaps more vertical shows,” Loy said.
Funds advised by Triton has signed an agreement to acquire Acre, an end-to-end security solutions provider based in Dallas and Dublin, Ireland. This agreement means that ACRE brands like Vanderbilt, Comnet, and Razberi have a new owner.
The Triton funds invest in and support the positive development of medium-sized businesses with a strong European heritage. Since its establishment in 1997, Triton has sponsored nine funds, focusing on businesses in the industrial, business services, consumer and health sectors.
“This partnership will allow us to continue to invest in innovation and bring our market-leading solutions to customers,” said Joseph Grillo, CEO of ACRE.
Triton will invest alongside the current management team of ACRE. Acre’s previous majority investor, LLR Partners, who has partnered with the company since 2013, will exit the business. Houlihan Lokey acted as exclusive financial advisor to Acre and LLR Partners. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Strong security industry brands
ACRE delivers security systems for access control and intrusion detection as well as innovative video solutions with a communication networking and intelligent appliance portfolio. The software and solutions provided by ACRE’s family of companies (Vanderbilt, Open Options, RS2 Technologies, Comnet and Razberi) help secure the highest valued assets of large and small customers operating in the private and public sectors. Triton will bring industry expertise and additional capital to support ACRE’s continued innovation and proven buy and build strategy.
“We look forward to actively supporting the management and employees of Acre as a stable owner by investing in the growth and development of the company,” said Peder Prahl, director of the general partner for the Triton funds. “Our industry expertise and international network will further strengthen Acre’s position as a leading global provider of intelligent electronic security solutions.”
Grillo said as ACRE reaches its next stage of growth, hitting new milestones, welcoming Triton as that partner to help expand the company’s presence and capabilities organically and new acquisitions.
“This partnership will allow us to continue to invest in innovation and bring our market-leading solutions to customers,” Grillo said.
“ACRE operates in the structurally growing, fragmented and resilient electronic security market, with an attractive product portfolio and strong market position in the geographies it operates in,” said Sachin Jivanji, Investment Advisory Professional and advisor to the Triton Funds. “We look forward to partnering with Joe and the team as ACRE embarks on the next phase of its journey.”
325 employees in 25 countries
Since its formation in 2012, ACRE has played an instrumental role in the development and implementation of security technology initiatives on a global scale. Its’ Vanderbilt, RS2, Open Options, Comnet, and Razberi brands deliver advanced solutions to thousands of customers around the world. Today, Acre employs approximately 325 employees in more than 25 countries.
Triton – a €18 ($21.48 billion) billion business
Triton and its executives wish to be agents of positive change towards sustainable operational improvements and growth. The 45 companies currently in Triton’s portfolio have combined sales of around €18, 2 billion and around 100,800 employees.