When Neopost S.A., a French corporation headquartered in Paris, acquired the mailing systems division of the Swiss-based Ascom Group earlier this year, there was speculation that Ascom's mailing systems business in the United States would simply disappear. But a strategic decision to continue to offer two strong individual brands Neopost and Hasler in the US market has created a powerful force with the potential to grow both brands and reshape the mailing-systems industry.
Patrick Nangle, chief operating officer of Neopost S.A., responsible for its businesses in North America and Japan, explains that the organizational structure will facilitate growth. Hasler, Inc. and Neopost, Inc. will remain as independent sales networks, each sourcing products from the parent company. "This will allow our customers to continue to choose the local organization that they believe is best able to satisfy their needs." says Nangle. Neopost S.A. has successfully practiced a similar commercial strategy in France for more than 40 years.
Keeping the companies independent also serves to foster best practices within the total organization. It means that each company retains its customer base and its established distribution and service channels. However, a separate unit that can provide services to both companies (logistics, for example) is being considered to optimize the quality of services and create cost savings.
Executives believe this structure will give them three significant advantages in the marketplace.
#1: An Ambition to Grow
When there is a significant gap in market share between one competitor and the rest of the field, the key to success is increasing in size as quickly as possible. Neopost and Ascom Hasler had both been trying to close that gap. When the Ascom Group made the decision to focus on telecommunications as its core business, Ascom Hasler, the mailing systems division, needed to find a new home that would allow it to continue to grow. Around the same time, Neopost S.A. was looking to acquire another business with a good product and market fit to aid in its growth plan. According to Nangle, "The excellent cultural fit was evident from the first contact. Neopost S.A. was really interested in the employees and the product strengths that Ascom Hasler brought to the acquisition. We share the ambition to grow our core business by providing innovative and highly reliable mailing machines to our customers."
The shared ambition and vision for growth creates a potent force among the employees of the whole group. Although Neopost S.A. has nearly doubled market share in the US as · a result of the acquisition, it has experienced no downtime in responding to the increased demands of the marketplace. The momentum of the new organization sends a message to the competition about how it will aggressively pursue opportunities.
#2: Competitive Structure
The impact on research and development may be the strongest competitive message. The parent organization will use the power of its new structure to accelerate product development and is already in the process of expanding its US research facilities. John Vavra, president and CEO of Hasler, Inc., quickly points out the R&D advantages of the new organization. "In the past, you'd have two companies that would be doing similar technological exploration. If the Postal Service came out with a new regulation, each company would go about meeting it in a different way, perhaps spending millions of dollars to get to the same result. Now, we will be able to dedicate the available resources to more projects and bring new products to market more quickly."
Nangle sees the efficiencies taking the organization a step further. "Product life cycles are getting shorter. New products especially digital products have to get to the market more quickly. With larger resources available in both people and money, we can do more projects, not just in pure metering but in other areas of mailing systems."
According to Anthony Adkins, president and CEO of Neopost, Inc., the widened range of products will drive both organizations "to get to more of the marketplace than either of them had been able to serve as individual companies previously." To reach more of the market, the parent company has selected the best products from each organization's portfolio and has made them immediately available to Neopost, Inc, and Hasler, Inc. For example, the complementary technological expertise of the merging R&D personnel is allowing the two US companies to quickly bring to market a complete range of IBIP-compatible postage meters, something that was a real challenge for both companies pre-merger.
Nangle adds, "What we want to do as a global organization is to ensure both companies have state-of-the-art products to bring to market. Each company will brand those modern products and influence the customer experience in its own way." The goal is a continued growth of market share.
#3: Proactive Partnerships
Neopost S.A. will build upon its strong internal strategic fit to pursue a more proactive partnership with the U.S. Postal Service and other postal services worldwide. "We want to take a more active role with the Postal Service than either company has done or could afford to do in the past," Nangle adds.
With the future of mailing systems increasingly tied to technological advances such as IBIP and other methods to gather information, the organization sees itself acting as the conduit for that information between postal authorities and mailers.
"For a long time, Neopost S.A. was the only manufacturer to serve the five major countries that account for 80% of the world's metering needs. As a result, we've got very strong ties with global postal authorities we will use as we continue to grow," Adkins adds.
Stepping Up the Pace
Neopost S.A.'s drive to compete, combined with the company's strategy to increase the pace of innovation, will stimulate the entire mailing industry and generate significant benefits to customers. As Nangle summed it up, "Change inevitably creates opportunities."
Carol Rugh is a freelance writer. For additional information on Neopost, Inc., contact them by phone at 888-Neopost or visit Neopost on the Web at www.neopostinc.com. For further information on Hasler, Inc., contact them by phone at 800-243-6275 or visit Hasler on the Web at www.haslerinc.com.