In March 2016, ProCom completed its acquisition of the assets of FT Farfan’s rigging business unit. The acquisition of the assets serves to bolster ProCom’s position in the local market. ProCom’s CEO, Mark Laughlin, said that the acquisition was a strategic move to acquire market share by removing a major competitor and adding 30% market share to ProCom. The acquisition became effective on March 31st 2016.
In addition to the rigging business, ProCom is an authorised dealer of internationally recognised original equipment manufacturer (OEM) products. The company also provides services to the energy sector, water and wastewater sectors and the manufacturing sector. In the rigging business, ProCom’s capabilities include manufacture of slings sets, supply of nylon and wire rope slings, certification and raw material tractability.
Founded in 1982, ProCom quickly established itself as a supplier of industrial, oilfield and energy-related products to the local market. In 2005, Laughlin and De Gannes took over 100% of operations and ProCom, at which time Mark Laughlin took control of the business operations as chief executive officer. ProCom is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Laughlin and De Gannes.
This has not been the first time that ProCom undertook an acquisition. According to Laughlin, in March 2009, ProCom embarked on its first acquisition by purchasing one of the most technologically advanced rigging supply businesses at the time – Superior Rigging – which had set up its own rigging shop two years prior. Back then, the rigging industry had few practitioners, so ProCom took the opportunity to become a player in the industry. The acquisition of the assets of FT Farfan's rigging division was driven by two things: ProCom was the smallest player in the market, and this opportunity offered the company the ability to purchase market share by acquiring the assets of one of the biggest players.
Wayne Lyons, the new rigging manager, says that in addition to market share, the acquisition also gives ProCom the ability to provide a wider scope of products and services. ProCom's manufacturing abilities will grow – especially in terms of the wire rope production – which opens up a whole new market for the company, allowing it to service more sub-sectors, such as the marine industry, within the energy sector.
Laughlin also noted that the significant expertise and human resources that came with the deal are an added bonus. ProCom was able to bring over six staff members from the FT Farfan division to boost the company's expertise and bring value to the business. The rigging team at ProCom has now expanded to 15 persons. The acquisition process was quick and smooth. From the expression of interest to the point of closing, the process took approximately four months. The acquisition was 70% self-financed, with the remainder being sourced through Republic Bank which also happened quickly.
Depressed energy prices have not affected ProCom's business. Even though the company is being supported by fewer clients and many larger projects have been either cancelled or postponed, its revenue targets have been met. With the economic downturn, service companies have to look at ways to save money and cut expenses and this is what ProCom has been trying to do.
Laughlin’s take on the slowdown is that it is not really a recession but rather, the economy has reset itself. As a result, companies have been forced to look at how they operate; they need to be more efficient and try to find innovative ways in which to compete.
While one of the quickest ways to reduce expenses is to let workers go, Laughlin was proud to say that this has not been ProCom’s strategy: "The downturn signalled that we have to be more aggressive in maintaining customer relationships, looking for new opportunities and growing the market."
ProCom has said that it will look at other acquisitions in the future, once they are complementary to the company's core business. Laughlin believes that in Trinidad and Tobago, there is still a lot of space to grow – the opportunities have not been maxed out. While there are also opportunities for the rigging business in regional markets – especially in Guyana and Suriname – Laughlin says that ProCom's main focus is on Trinidad, as he still sees the local potential. However, if the company reached a stage of owning 95% of market share in an industry, it would definitely consider moving outside.