In a pivotal deal announced today, DemandBridge, Norcross, Ga., has acquired Kramer-Smilko Inc., a software company based in Bel Air, Md. The purchase of Kramer-Smilko comes on the heels of DemandBridge’s acquisition this past October of Reno, Nevada-based e-Quantum Inc., another big player in the distributor management software game. Together, the three companies bring more than 90 years of experience and growth within and beyond the independent print services industry.
The new company will retain the DemandBridge name. Staffing plans are being evaluated, but we do know that John Smilko, current owner of Kramer-Smilko, will remain with DemandBridge in his current capacity. “All of the critical employees—the engineers, the customer and product support people—obviously, we need them for 'business as usual,'” David Rich, chairman and CEO of DemandBridge, told Print+Promo in a joint phone interview with Smilko. “So who we need for ‘business as usual,’ we’re going to retain in some form.”
Corporate Development Associates served as the exclusive financial advisor to Kramer-Smilko. Both Smilko and Rich declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal.
Kramer-Smilko has a strong presence in the health care, banking, finance and insurance sectors, and its software platform processes half a billion dollars in annual sales for its customer base, consisting of large distributors. In addition to classic print management and distribution, the company advertises integrated office supplies, print-on-demand, digital content management, one-to-one marketing, promotional products, third-party fulfillment and MRO inventory capabilities as part of its offerings.
As reported in a press release, the new company will “evolve and transition its products to leverage DemandBridge’s presence on the Microsoft Azure Cloud and to integrate technologies in the pipeline—from Microsoft PowerBI and Cloud Foundry, to other digital marketing technologies planned for 2018 and beyond.”
“We continue to uncover opportunities to help our clients succeed in new ways,” Rich said in a prepared statement. “End-user demands are changing, the brands themselves are changing, and the goals of our forward-thinking distributor/agency/corporate customers are evolving accordingly. Simply put, marketing service providers who want to grow their businesses beyond traditional services (i.e., print and promotional goods) will need more enabling technology than the previous generations. By consolidating the talents of DemandBridge, e-Quantum and Kramer-Smilko—and together with customers who have expressed willingness to co-develop with us—we will take a major step forward to providing the resources and technology platforms this industry needs to confidently approach business in the 2020s.”
What Kramer-Smilko Gets
Used by some of the industry’s largest distributors and agencies, more than 1.2 million registered users and over 3,000 loyal brands across the retail, health care, franchising, financial, energy and nonprofit verticals, DemandBridge’s platform allows distributors to service customers on many aspects of their marketing and sales efforts—from hard goods to full digital distribution of their content. The platform consists of three major components: DB Enterprise, DB Distributor and DB Alliance. (For a detailed explanation of these offerings, check out Print+Promo’s March 2017 feature, “A Closer Look at the Business Software That’s Empowering Distributors.”)
Smilko, a programmer by trade, is looking to integrate some existing DemandBridge offerings, particularly DB Enterprise and DB Distributor, into its system relatively quickly. “There will be no disruption at all,” he said. “If anything, things will improve with some more immediate offers of new benefits for some things we can do quickly with some DemandBridge tools.”
Rich expanded on this point. “What we’re trying to do is for the various distributor management systems out there, otherwise known as the ‘back end,’ … it’s all the ERP software that these guys have been running the business on for quite some time, and my attitude is, John agrees, if it’s not broke, we’re not going to fix it,” he explained to Print+Promo. “That said, I think everybody would also say that the software has been in the market for a long time, and I think we all know that the back end needs to be rewritten at some point—but we don’t anticipate doing that in the foreseeable future until it becomes something that the marketplace sort of demands of us. The real reason for doing what we’re doing is to eventually, when that time occurs, we’re doing it once, we’re not just trying [to do] it on our own. We’re going to rewrite the back end once and, again, that’s way down the path.”
Standardization on the same sourcing tool, according to Rich, offers bigger benefits in the short-term. To learn how, check out next week’s edition of The Press. We also will highlight more of our in-depth phone conversation with the two executives.