Business View Caribbean interviews Kory Logan, VP of Sales and Marketing for the CCS Group, as part of our focus on best business practices in the ICT sector.
The CCS Group – From cloud to keyboard
The CCS Group is an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) company that has been providing high-quality technical services to Bermuda, the Caribbean, and Europe for over 30 years. The company was originally founded in 1982, to provide high end data cabling solutions for Bermuda’s burgeoning financial services industry – CCS stood for Computer Cabling Systems.
“That company had a lot of success throughout the ‘80s,” says Kory Logan, current Vice President of Sales and Marketing, “and Bermuda, itself, as a tax-optimized jurisdiction, also had a lot of success throughout the ‘80s.” In the mid 1990’s CCS was purchased by New Venture Holdings, a group of information technology consultants, and transformed into a full service ICT provider. “They reached out and became the first registered Cisco partner on the island that was fully certified and fully trained and able to buy direct from Cisco,” says Logan. “At the time, they also went to a company called Lucent, which later spun off their enterprise telephony division and called it Avaya. It was the first local company that had those types of relationships besides the local telephone company, and that was the beginning of what CCS has become today.”
Following a period of rapid growth, the company was acquired by the BAS Group of Companies in 2007. “The telephony division expanded organically to be inclusive of things like full collaboration solutions, voice-over IP solutions, wireless telephony solutions, and video conferencing solutions,” Logan continues. “The cabling division grew organically to include things like fiber optics, outside plant cable, wireless point-to-point back calls, carrier grade systems, and carrier grade wireless solutions. The networking probably transformed the most because it transformed into not just enterprise networking but carrier services networking, as well as server storage and virtualization, Microsoft services, and application development. So, we’ve expanded to become an all-inclusive company that has solutions for everything from the cloud to the keyboard. Our keys pillars within the organization are still structured cabling, enterprise networking, server storage virtualization, application development, collaboration in unified communications, and service provider infrastructure.”
Today, the CCS Group has approximately 45 employees who work out of the company’s head office in Bermuda and branch office in Lisbon, Portugal. Its footprint extends to most of Europe, parts of Africa and all of the English speaking Caribbean. “In Bermuda, our largest vertical is financial services, so we deal with all the big banks; we deal with almost all of the reinsurance companies; we deal with hedge funds; we deal with pretty much everything around the financial services industry and that is our biggest revenue generator.
“In Europe, we also have some financial services customers; most of those customers actually have a presence in Bermuda, already, and we’ve been able to extend our service to their European branch offices. However, in Portugal, we have most of our work within the service providers: large ISPs and cellular providers. In the English speaking Caribbean, it’s kind of a mixed bag. We do a lot of financial services stuff, but we have had some success with service providers, as well. The goal in five years would be to expand outside of our key jurisdictions, so while we do serve the English speaking Caribbean and Europe, 80 percent of our revenue still comes from Bermuda. That’s not a great strategy for diversification, so we are betting heavily on Europe and we are betting heavily on expanding our footprint into the English speaking Caribbean.”
In a competitive marketplace Logan believes that the CCS Group differentiates itself by delivering real value to its customers. He explains, “In everything that we do and every solution that we endorse, we try to look at solutions that allow our customers to do more with less. If you look at some of the markets that we serve, like Bermuda, and Cayman, and other tax-optimized jurisdictions, you typically find that they have some common challenges. Usually space is at a premium – square footage is very, very expensive; usually talent acquisition is very difficult because they come from countries with small populations where a lot of the more advanced skills have to be imported; typically, electricity is a very compelling factor – consuming lots of electricity translates into a lot of expense; and usually, they’re businesses that, despite being in smaller jurisdictions like Bermuda, they still have the same requirements as some of the very large, very advanced organizations in a London, or a New York, or a Toronto.
“So, when we’re investing in a solution, we really try to help people overcome all of those affects. We look for solutions that are relatively easy to manage with not such advanced skill sets; we look for solutions that take a smaller footprint, and thereby can take up less space in a data center; with that smaller footprint, we also typically consume a lot less power; and then, we’re looking for solutions that are on the leading edge of performance with regards to computing processing power and so forth; and then, we look for solutions that give features and functionality that help people do business better.”
In furthering that objective, Logan says that the company continues to stay abreast of the latest technologies. “We are investing heavily in cloud technologies and we’re investing in software defined data center and wide area technologies for the same reason – we want to allow our customers to do more with less and we want them to be able to operate a little bit more efficiently,” he states. “We’re not afraid of new technology, even new technology that threatens the current way that we do business – cloud is an example of that, hyper conversions is an example of that. It is different than what most people in this industry do. You see people trying to hold on to the old way of doing things for as long as they can and really only evolve when they’re forced to. We try to be ahead of the game; we try to be there first and be there best.”
Going forward, Logan says that CCS also wants to deepen its relationships with its clients. “We really want to get away from transactional relationships with our customers,” he avers. “We want to get into something more of a symbiotic relationship where their future is highly aligned with ours. So things like having advanced cloud solutions that allow people to do more with less and without them having to fork over so much in capital expenditures but rather having more of an off-ex model – that’s what we want to get into. So, rather than doing boxed sales or one time solutions, we want to look at more of a reoccurring revenue model where we’re in tight relationships with our customers and we’re giving benefits for the long term and not just one solution, and then we talk to them again in another three years.
“It’s even written into our mission statement that our goal is to become a trusted advisor and to partner with our customers. That is something that we live and breathe every day. Because we were born in a place like Bermuda, we were born on relationships. It’s not like a company that was founded in a New York, where you can just do transactional sales and there’s always another business you can go and talk to. The fact that we’ve been around since 1982, proves that we have staying power with our relationships because we would never have been able to succeed that long if we didn’t have their best interests in mind.”
This past year, the CCS Group was named the Official ICT Supplier for the 35th staging of the America’s Cup yacht race. The company provided structured cabling, equipment, and manpower in the form of networking engineers who played a critical role in helping to create and maintain the ICT infrastructure that was utilized by the America’s Cup event staff, news media attendees, event emergency services, and visitors to the event. “It’s the biggest event that has ever happened in Bermuda and the fact that they were able to get the level of support from a local supplier that it got is something that the entire region should be proud of,” Logan declares. “These guys have operated around the world and they were over the moon with the results that they got from the support we provided.”
That’s the CCS Group story – from cloud to keyboard, with even the moon, included.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: The CCS Group
WHAT: An information and communications technology company
WHERE: Hamilton, Bermuda
Westcon-Comstor – A multi-national company, headquartered in Tarrytown, New York, and founded in 1985, Westcon-Comstor is a value-added technology distributor of category-leading solutions in Security, Collaboration, Networking, and Data Centers. The company has a presence in 50+ countries on four continents. – www.westconcomstor.com