- Headquarters: Hamilton, New Zealand
- Acquisition Date: March 2017
- Vertical Market: Asset Management and Logistics
- Website: smartrak.com/
Smartrak was founded in 2006 with the vision of building a superior GPS fleet management solution for the Australasian market. For the next 10 years, Smartrak saw consistent growth. However, as Smartrak’s then husband-and-wife owners neared retirement, they faced a dilemma. For Smartrak to continue its growth trajectory, they would need to make a large investment in the business. Alternatively, they could seek an acquirer with sufficient capital and expertise to guide Smartrak through its next growth phase.
The Decision to Sell
In 2016, Volaris Group identified Smartrak as a high value acquisition prospect and approached the leadership team about the potential opportunity. The owners were pleased to learn about Volaris’ philosophy, values, and approach to running software businesses. Given that Volaris already had a portfolio of Asset Management businesses, they were excited that Smartrak could draw upon relevant industry experience and insights to fuel the organization’s growth.
After several months of ongoing discussions, Smartrak’s owners decided that Volaris Group would be a fitting home for the company, seeing the sale as an opportunity to take a step towards retirement. Smartrak’s owners appointed a small internal team to help navigate the transaction. The team consisted of some of their key executives, including then-CEO Troy O’Connor.
After spending the previous two years as CEO of Smartrak, Troy was thrilled by the acquisition as he recognized that it would allow him and his team to achieve their ambitious growth targets. Troy partnered with his board and the M&A team throughout the acquisition process, while also working closely with Volaris’ leadership team to set milestones and goals that they’d strive towards post-acquisition.
In the seven years since being acquired by Volaris, Smartrak has matured into a company with consistent, profitable growth. This is something that Peter Grant, CEO of Smartrak between 2020 and 2023, and now a Portfolio Group Leader with Volaris Group, attributes to two things. The first is a laser-like focus on Smartrak’s key verticals (government, healthcare, education, utilities, and community services). The ability to draw on 30 years of Volaris best practices, along with the drive for continuous improvement, has fuelled Smartrak’s growth into a strong position in its core verticals. It also saw Smartrak continue to grow during the 2020 pandemic.
“There are some key metrics which enable us to visualize the parts of the business that are doing outstandingly well and to continue to double down on what we're doing there,” says Peter Grant. “It also allows us to see the parts of the business that are potentially holding us back that needs some further focus.”
The second key factor Peter attributes to Smartrak’s growth is the acquisition of PoolCar in 2019. PoolCar is an online platform that streamlines the management of company vehicle bookings. While Smartrak already offered a booking platform, PoolCar’s integrated and secure key cabinets and keyless entry made it an industry-leading solution. The acquisition meant an expanded solution portfolio for Smartrak, while complementing its existing telematics platform. It also provided a significant point of difference in an increasingly crowded and commoditized telematics market.
In the five years since Smartrak acquired PoolCar, the booking solution has enjoyed growth that has seen it double in size. It has also provided an opportunity for Smartrak to explore opportunities to further innovate, as well as laying the foundations for the next phase of Smartrak’s growth – Electric vehicle management and sustainable transportation.
A Talent Development Powerhouse
Since acquisition, Smartrak has successfully leveraged Volaris’ drive for talent development. Casey Molloy, Smartrak’s current CEO, is quick to point out that it’s one of Smartrak’s core values. The company is committed to seeing their people succeed at all levels.
“At an executive level, you’re always trying to build a bench that can step into a CEO role or a Group role,” says Casey. “But to do that you need to be developing everyone in the business. You need to ensure your staff are getting the best training and learning opportunities so they’re ready for the next step in their career.”
This sentiment is also echoed by Peter Grant. “Our view is that talent development is aligned with best practice and is done by giving people opportunities to learn. We equip them with new skills and ways of thinking, then provide the opportunity to apply these within the business, either in a leadership context or an individual contributor.”
This approach to talent development has seen Smartrak become an incubator of Volaris leaders. Troy O’Connor, who was CEO of Smartrak during its acquisition by Volaris, is now co-CEO of the Bradley O’Connor portfolio within Volaris Group.
Peter Grant, Troy’s successor, successfully helmed Smartrak during the pandemic and has now moved into a Group Leader role, which sees him overseeing several companies within the Bradley O’Connor Portfolio, including Smartrak.
Casey Molloy, who has been at Smartrak for 12 years, initially started as an account manager. In his time at the company, he held several senior leadership roles before taking over as CEO in early 2024.
These career opportunities are not just reserved for the senior leadership team. Smartrak has seen multiple employees pursue new opportunities at other Volaris-owned companies or even move into roles at the portfolio level. Volaris believes that it can only grow as fast as it can grow its people, so naturally talent development plays a key part in developing the Volaris leaders of tomorrow.
Smartrak’s Future – EV Electrification
Now that a solid foundation of growth has been established, Smartrak is planning its next phase – sustainable transportation. This is in response to the rapid electrification of fleets across Australia and New Zealand. While PoolCar already has some smarts for EV management, there is an opportunity to build the software that will streamline the day-to-day management of electric vehicles.
To achieve this, Smartrak has launched an initiative that will see the development of this new software. Customers such as Griffith University and Aurecon have already signed on and will co-develop the software to ensure that it meets the real-world needs of Smartrak’s customers and see Smartrak continue its growth trajectory.
“The great thing about the initiative process is that it allows us to tap into the vast amount of capital that you get in the Volaris world, but to do it in a smart and validated way. The world is full of good ideas, but the danger for businesses is that you can end up chasing ideas that aren’t commercially viable.”
— Casey Molloy, CEO, Smartrak