A Message from Our Founder, Tony Golobic CEO & Chairman of GreatAmerica Financial Services
I was talking with Hannah Erb, our Collabrance sales leader, about private equity in the IT space. She said “You would be surprised how often I get asked if we are for sale.” The more I thought about her comment, it became clear to me this is the reality managed service providers (MSPs) have to deal with when choosing a vendor to partner with in the IT space. A large percentage of IT vendors and specifically Master MSPs are owned by private equity.
The shifting sands of private equity can mean frequent changes in Master MSP ownership and changes in strategic direction, giving MSPs and subscriber customers a sense of uncertainty.
Collabrance is a wholly owned subsidiary of GreatAmerica Financial Services, Inc, a family owned company in business for over 27 years, with over 600 employees and over $2.2 Billion in assets. We didn’t start GreatAmerica or Collabrance to build it, sell it, and then walk away with a lot of money. We were and are building this special company to last way past my lifetime and hopefully be a part of our family for generations.
Image Above: Tony Golobic by quote on wall in GreatAmerica Building,
"Today is the best day ever, and tomorrow will be even better!"
At GreatAmerica, success, growth and the relentless pursuit of excellence is in our DNA. This best describes our whole organization, including Collabrance. We don’t waver from that, no matter what.
We are not motivated by money; for us, money is only a byproduct of building an exceptional company.
Our resolve to be a standard-bearer in the IT space can be explained in our history. GreatAmerica is primarily a commercial equipment financing company focused on a handful of vertical markets such as the imaging channel, the IT channel, construction, automotive equipment and healthcare. Because of the tight industry focus of the company, our leaders are constantly looking for ways to improve services and add value in their respective channels.
Image Above: Collabrance located in the 3rd floor of the GreatAmerica Building.
In 2008, our leaders saw managed services growth in the IT space and the imaging channel flattening out. To help our partners in the imaging channel, we decided to build a 100% Midwest-staffed Master MSP. Since we had the resources, staff and were well known for excellence in customer service, the thought was to build a Network Operations Center (NOC) and Help Desk and supporting infrastructure so our imaging dealers could be in business in the managed services space within 60 days with virtually no upfront investment. Today, being a 100% Midwest-staffed facility continues to be a strong differentiator. While we are still very involved in the imaging channel, we have since successfully expanded to work with many MSPs across the country.
You may think, “Wow that is a big departure from the financing space.” Well, yes it is, but at the same time, for us it is not. It is also not the first time GreatAmerica has departed from its core business to do something strategic for our customers. In the early managed print days, many imaging dealers couldn’t afford remote monitoring tools for their installed assets so we introduced FleetView®. It was a big investment in tools and people to support it, and we sold it to dealers on an affordable, per device basis. Another departure from financing was our PathShare® HR Services investment. Many GreatAmerica customers are small businesses that don’t have sophisticated hiring policies and procedures and were asking for help, so we responded.
Image Above: Technicians at Collabrance Help Desk and NOC located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
So you see, we constantly look for ways that we can help our customers become more successful and keep them for a lifetime. Especially ways within our points of excellence. These ancillary services have helped our customers who, in turn, have rewarded us with their trust and loyalty.
While Collabrance is a for-profit entity and strives to add enterprise value to GreatAmerica, we also serve a higher purpose as a strategic partner. We help each other become more successful.
It is so satisfying when someone from our imaging group or our IT group sends a GreatAmerica lead to Collabrance. Or Collabrance finds an MSP who really doesn’t know how to fold financing into their offer and Collabrance can help make that connection with the GreatAmerica representative.
By now you might be getting what makes us tick, and have a better understanding of the “why” behind our actions.
We get approached by many organizations wanting to buy GreatAmerica. These conversations are very short because we tell them right up front that we are not for sale and will not be.
Our mission at GreatAmerica and Collabrance is Helping Our Customers Achieve Greater Success. That is YOU, our customer, who is the focal point. This has served GreatAmerica well for 27 years and Collabrance well for 10 years and I don’t see this strategy changing at any time in the future.
Image Above: GreatAmerica Headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Tony Golobic, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of GreatAmerica Financial Services, has been involved in equipment financing since 1971.
Prior to founding GreatAmerica in 1992, Tony served as General Manager of GE Capital Office Technology Financial Services, President and Chief Executive Officer of LeaseAmerica Corporation, and Senior Vice President of Mellon Financial Services.
Tony earned his M.B.A. degree in Finance from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business in 1971 and a B.S.B.A. degree in Accounting from Roosevelt University in 1969. He has also passed the Certified Public Accountant exam.
Tony is a member of the Boards of the Iowa College Foundation and Mercy Medical Center. He serves on the Board of Directors of Admiralty Holding, Inc. Previously, Tony has been a member of the following Boards of Directors: Board of Trustees of Coe College, Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra, Village Bank & Trust Company, Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, Equipment Leasing and Finance Foundation, National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival, and Eastern Iowa Enterprise Council.
Tony is a veteran of the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam.