Schurz Communications Acquires Online Tech, Plans National Expansion

Online Tech, an Ann Arbor, MI-based cloud computing company operating since 1994, has been acquired by Schurz Communications, a media conglomerate headquartered in Mishawaka, IN. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Online Tech, which also has data centers in Indianapolis and Kansas City, MO, is a pioneer in healthcare IT. The company specializes in compliance and security services, including disaster recovery, and data protection.

Online Tech also operated the first HIPAA-audited cloud and data center in the country, and its nearly 500 customers include sprawling medical practices, such as the Henry Ford Health System in Southeast Michigan, and electronic medical record providers.

“We’d accomplished the dominant position in the Midwest,” says Online Tech CEO Yan Ness, who is stepping down as part of the acquisition. Years of solid growth led to the company hiring DH Capital, a New York investment bank, to analyze future options. The firm told Ness it was time to expand nationwide, but he wasn’t sure that was a journey he personally wanted to take.

“I’d been running the company for 15 years, and I couldn’t imagine another five,” he explains. The team took a look at the market and liked what they saw in Schurz, “because of their strong [chief financial officer] and ability to grow nationally. They found us through DH.”

Ness describes Schurz, which was founded in 1872, as being run by a family with generations of experience owning newspapers, including the South Bend Tribune, and radio and television stations. For Schurz, he says, the acquisition represents an opportunity to explore the digital world.

“Going national is the right thing for Online Tech,” Ness says. “Schurz paid a very, very healthy price because of that potential. I think you’ll be hearing a lot about Online Tech in the future.”

Schurz will now operate Online Tech and will grow it in part by acquiring other small companies, Ness adds. Online Tech’s headquarters will remain in Ann Arbor, and all 65 employees will be absorbed into the new operation. Brad Cheedle and Tom Wilten, described as industry veterans in a press release issued by Schurz, are coming on board to serve as the company’s new CEO and CFO, respectively.

“[The acquisition] is an absolute home run for Ann Arbor and our employees,” Ness says. “It’s a huge win for Indianapolis and Ann Arbor.”

As for Ness, he’s ready for a whole lot of relaxation, at least through the rest of the year. “I plan to do a lot of sailing and nesting and spending time with my wife/soul mate/and best friend. I’m a serial entrepreneur, so I love running tech companies.” Expect to see him pop up on the radar again in 2019, he says.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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