For someone who has recently overseen the successful integration of two companies with differing cultures John Massey is remarkably calm and gives off an aura of being completely in control.
The Managing Director of Cloud XL says a strict fitness regime combined with a meditative approach to life keeps his body and mind fit for business and has helped him through some challenging times. "I'm in the gym most days at 6.30am," he said. "Keeping fit is very important and I am almost fanatical about it now. Exercise focuses the mind and it certainly helps me get through the day."
Massey's days have been long and demanding since he absorbed Universal Office Automation and latterly Network Resource Group into his Essex-based Actimax business and relaunched under the Cloud XL brand name. Aside from his fitness regime Massey is a planner extraordinaire and a stickler for time management. Being late for a meeting is not acceptable to him. "Making good use of time is important to me," he said. "It's an old cliché but time is money. I use conference calls every day and will quite often have four a day."
Massey clearly relishes planning not just his days but his entire business operation and believes it was crucial to managing the integration of NRG into Actimax and the forming of Cloud XL which he now describes as an infrastructure services business. "We were looking for a data company after the Universal merger," explained Massey. "The attraction of Network Resource Group was that they had enormous data experience and they were very close to us. Some meticulous planning went into the move beforehand.
"I have been working in large scale management since I was 27. It's what I specialise in. We had an enormous 100 point integration plan which we followed to the letter and at the same time we developed a new website to cover off the branding and marketing. Logistically the integration was relatively simple because all the NRG staff were moving from only 15 minutes away and there were no redundancies to manage. We moved them in on the Wednesday and they were all live and operational the following Monday."
Massey wanted to literally converge the business operations without undermining his core telecoms business which has 1,100 customers on its books and that was his biggest challenge. He adopted a hand on approach which he maintains was crucial to the success of the operation. "You cannot run businesses at a distance," said Massey. "When you are merging sites you need to merge management teams and you need to merge cultures. It is crucial to have control over the processes and great clarity on what you want to achieve. If you don't have that you end up with a mess."
Massey was also keen not to create any division of operations and give customers the experience of a joined up organisation with knowledge and expertise across the communications spectrum. "This merger has been completely transformational," he commented. "It was about integrating an IT company with a telecommunications company. Each had different products, different markets and different customers. From day one they all sat together and they still are. For me this works because we aim to supply customers with everything they need to do to enable them to do business.
"These days customers want to speak to people that understand from an engineering perceptive and from a sales point of view where everything is going with communications, particularly in the cloud. You have to know what you're talking about or have someone close to you who does. It's all about changing people's thinking."
As well as gaining a lot of technical expertise the new business now has five data centres, one in Slough and four in London to drive its hosted solutions business, and Massey is confident he and his investment partner Synova have established a solid foundation to build on. "You can't stand still," he warned. "You either adapt or perish, it's that simple. Infrastructure as a service is now our model. So we start with Internet access, SIP trunks, ISDN, the wide area network, the non-geographic number, the mobile and combine that with the Local Area Network, the Wi-Fi, the servers to run telephony and the applications all from best of breed suppliers.
"The cloud offering is really about virtualisation and the data centre. Cloud technology is great because you have all the benefits and it is cheaper to run. It's that simple. We also understand that people are sceptical which is why we take a hybrid approach. If you want to virtualise on site and move into the cloud in a few years time no problem. We can make it a gradual process."