- Headquarters: Houston, TX, USA
- Acquisition Date: December 2012
- Vertical Market: Insurance & Benefits Administration
Founded in 1986, Travis Software Corp. (Travisoft) is a leading provider of employee health and benefits administration software. The company’s products enable its over 500 customers to manage benefit compliance and administration.
Travis was established as an entrepreneurial venture of Alan Williams. As Williams approached retirement, he began to seriously consider his options for liquidating his interests in the business and handing over its leadership.
When Williams turned 60, he realized that he did not have a succession plan in place for Travis. As a result, his initial choice for a successor proved not to be the right fit, and Williams decided to engage an investment banker to look at alternative cash-out scenarios.
The investment banker was able to present a number of potential buyers, but Williams did not feel as though any of the alternatives on the table were suitable. For instance, one potential acquirer was a competitor looking at Travis as a strategic buy. That is, they were looking to acquire Travis solely for its customer list at the expense of the rest of the company. Since Williams felt an obligation to find an alternative that would maintain stability for his staff, he ultimately decided that this was not an avenue that he wanted to pursue.
After a false start with the investment banker, Williams decided to bring his daughter, Lauren Fischer, on board on a trial basis. Fischer, a lawyer practicing in benefits law, was familiar with the space in which Travis operated and was willing to give it a chance.
During this period, Fischer and her father maintained a good working relationship and ultimately decided that the company would be a good fit for her for the long-term. As a result, Williams and Fischer began discussing the possibility of a leveraged buy-out. However, personal circumstances made it an un-ideal alternative and they shelved the idea for the interim.
Williams then continued to position the company for a future sale in case the right opportunity were to come along.
I was comforted to know that what I had built would not be torn apart.
— Alan Williams, Founder, Travis Software
The Decision to Sell
In order to begin retirement, Williams was looking to liquidate all the assets he had tied up in Travis. As an entrepreneur who takes pride in the business he created, he needed assurances that his customers, employees, and daughter would be well-taken care of by any new owners.
When Volaris Group approached Williams about a potential sale, he was pleased to note the opportunities that this would provide both his employees and his daughter.
Volaris’s acquisition philosophy of buying companies and keeping them decentralized and autonomous appealed to Williams’ entrepreneurial spirit. Joining Volaris was an opportunity for Travis to maintain its small business culture, while having a large corporate backer to help the organization grow.
In addition to guaranteeing its future as an autonomous business under Volaris, Williams proceeded with the sale because of the speed and dependability in which Volaris could close the sale. Since Volaris has a strong balance sheet with solid cash reserves, it would not need to find additional financing to execute the deal. Moreover, the Mergers and Acquisitions team at Volaris manages acquisitions on a daily basis and are able to carry out the due diligence process quickly and efficiently, guaranteeing a quick turnaround.
Volaris has helped us position the company for future growth by investing in our employees and initiatives.
— Lauren Fischer, Managing Director, Travis Software
Despite initial hesitation amongst employees and customers, Fischer and her team were able to quickly dispel all concerns. While no significant adjustments to the business itself were implemented, being a part of Volaris has created numerous benefits for Travis and Fischer’s team. As a Volaris business, Travis is now part of a strong network of software companies, enabling its management teams to share best practices.
This access to external resources has also empowered Travis employees. Volaris’s investment in its human resource training has allowed Fischer and her senior managers to increase the responsibilities and accountability of employees across the organization and increase employee buy-in. Additionally, Travis now has the resources to hire more developers and support staff, to provide better sales training, and to invest in new products — positioning the company for long-term sustainability.
For Williams and Fischer, and Travis as a whole, selling to Volaris was the right decision.