AVS Systems headquarters in Vernon. Photo credit: Barry Gerding/Black Press

Vernon high-tech firm sells for $45 million

AVS Systems purchased by Information Services Corporation

A Vernon automation software service provider has hit the Internet technology jackpot.

AVS Systems Inc., headquartered on Polson Drive in Vernon, was purchased last month by Information Services Corporation.

The deal calls for a $25 million cash payment up front and a further $20 million contingent on the potential business service sales over the next year.

The sale is a culmination of the entrepreneurial technology dream of current AVS chief executive officer Garry van-Soest, who began working on it more than 20 years ago.

The four principals behind AVS besides van-Soest are fellow Vernon residents Dean Whibley and Jason Chimney along with Larry Mullins in Toronto.

For van-Soest, he is particularly happy for Whibley and Chimney to see significant financial success come their way following many years of hard work and dedication as the operations and technology drivers behind the business.

The two originally joined forces out of Okanagan College in a computer consulting business and eventually hooked up with van-Soest on his start-up venture AVS Enterprises.

He sold the company in 2007 and then co-founded AVS Systems with Whibley, Chimney and Mullins.

“It takes a lot of hard work in this brain draining kind of enterprise to see this kind of end result,” van- Soest said of the AVS Systems sale.

AVS provides automation software technology services to lending, leasing and credit issuing businesses and institutions across Canada. The business is projecting a 60 to 70 per cent increase in revenue over the next year, which if realized will figure in the final sale price.

“The lights are on in our building 24/7 and a 12-hour day is kind of a normal workday around here. It takes a lot of dedication, focus, intelligence, education, and patient families and spouses. The numbers may look pretty rich, but on the other hand you have to be committed to working long hours.

“It’s a wonderful achievement we have reached but it has taken a lot of effort.”

Having grown up in Williams Lake and a member of the first business graduating class at the University of Victoria, van-Soest has been through the high-tech business start-up cycle more than once over the last 30 years, and had his share of hits—harvesting nine new companies—and misses.

He chose to relocate to Vernon for the Okanagan lifestyle rather than a larger urban technology hub such as Vancouver or Toronto.

“I made a conscious choice to relocate to the Okanagan because of the family lifestyle, being able to ride by bike to work, a great place to build a business where people aren’t walking out the door every week because of a better offer down the street,” he said.

“Most of our employees have been with us five years or longer so there has been a great loyalty there. Our two most important needs in this deal was the long-term strategic interests of the company being met where our customers will be happy and our employees feel valued.”

Falling under ISC’s umbrella will allow for both potential employee growth at the AVS office in Vernon and also synergies that could see opportunities for staff to work in the corporation’s Toronto or Montreal offices and vice versa.

As for the four original investors, van-Soest says they will stick with AVS over the next year until the sale is finalized.

“When you are entrepreneurially inclined, you don’t work just to have success, you are always thinking about what might be next. I’m still a young guy and there are still lots of different things to look at.”


 


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