Bell Business Solutions buys Winnipeg ERP firm

Bell Canada Wednesday said it has purchased Winnipeg-based CSB Systems Ltd. to increase its enterprise resource planning services expertise for small and medium-sized businesses.


will become part of Bell’s Business Solutions company, which was formed in April as a means to deliver services to SMB clients. The financial terms of the CSB deal were not disclosed.

CSB specializes in services and management of ERP products such as Microsoft Navision and Syspro. Its client base is mostly manufacturing and distribution, but the company has some reach in the retail sector and municipal governments.

“More and more, what customers are looking for is industry knowledge. Of course, ERP is at the heart of businesses . . . in any industry,” said Robert Courteau, president and CEO, Bell Business Solutions. “If you get in and participate and partner with customers in that arena, then you can leverage the rest of the services that you can offer to that customer.”

CSB is the third in a chain of acquisitions designed to help Bell address the SMB segment. Last year it bought Charon Systems and Nexxlink Technologies.

Courteau, who was the head of Nexxlink before it was bought by Bell, said that the CSB buy will help Bell pad its ERP services portfolio. The acquisition is part of Bell Business Solutions’ “four-pillar” strategy: integrated ICT procurement, network-centric professional services, managed services and industry-specific services.

CSB fits into the last category, said Courteau, and its Winnipeg presence will help Bell develop an SMB base in Western Canada. CSB also has offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Portland, Ore.

“(With) SMB customers, what we’re seeing is that customers cannot afford the specialized expertise that they’re looking for. We’re providing expertise on demand,” said Courteau. “(Customers) don’t have to have permanent resources residing in their environment.”

CSB CEO Dan Stevens said the company will operate as a subsidiary of Bell Business Solutions. Stevens will remain at the helm.

Its 1,000 employees will continue on at CSB or be reshuffled through the Bell organization as needs dictate, said Courteau. He added that Bell Business Systems is in flux and staff from its three recent acquisitions may be moving as offices are consolidated.

Bell has given its SMB division a degree of autonomy, said Courteau, to allow it to remain flexible. “Customers want someone who’s simple and nimble and can resolve business problems with them.” Bell Business Solutions will “continue what the Charon, CSB and Nexxlink organizations were doing in the past and provide the same level of service,” he said.

Earlier this year, Bell Canada created a company called Bell Security Solutions Inc. to pursue the enterprise security management market in Canada.

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