SouthData, a privately held Mount Airy company that now employs about 80 people, has been sold in a move expected to expand production and jobs locally.
“I think given the experiences in our community, people automatically assume these are bad events,” SouthData President John Springthorpe III said of changes on the industrial landscape in recent years which all too often have meant layoffs.
“It is not a bad thing,” Springthorpe added regarding the sale of SouthData to OSG Billing Services, a corporation headquartered in New Jersey. The transaction occurred on July 10, and he declined to release terms of the sale.
Springthorpe, who since 2000 has been sole owner of the local company founded by his brother Bruce in 1985 to print payment coupon books for financial institutions, said the move will solidify and grow SouthData’s position in the marketplace.
“They are part of a larger organization with more resources,” said Springthorpe, who explained that bigger has become better for the business sector in which SouthData is involved.
It is a technology-driven full-service document-management provider that specializes in outsourced business services. These include printing and mailing, production and distribution of paper and electronic billing statements, document scanning and computer services.
“We’re an industry that is consolidating,” Springthorpe said. And in order to be competitive, companies such as SouthData need to be part of a large-scale operation with a “nationwide footprint” and adequate production facilities.
“We saw an opportunity to take a large leap forward,” the SouthData official said. “‘It’s a pretty major jump for us.”
SouthData has undertaken some expansions in recent years, including adding facilities in Mobile, Ala., and Tempe, Ariz., but its sale to OSG Billing is allying it with a corporation with more facilities which boasts a presence in six states and 300-plus employees. SouthData has 107 employees, including those here and out of state.
In an era that has witnessed plant closings among textile, furniture and other industries and layoffs of thousands of people since 2000, SouthData has been held up as a rare success story in the local economic climate.
And its reputation for success apparently spread.
“They approached us,” Springthorpe said regarding OMG Billing Services’ acquisition of SouthData. “And we entered into a conversation to talk about this.”
Once SouthData was satisfied that the move would be good for the company and that jobs of Mount Airy employees would be preserved, discussions progressed and led to the decision to work with OMG and the sale, Springthorpe said.
“Everybody that was working for SouthData last week is still working for us,” Springthorpe said, and more hiring is anticipated along with continued growth of the operation.
“It’s going to be in our production area. We will be taking on more production responsibilities here and as that expands, we’ll be adding people incrementally.” No target figure was mentioned.
Springthorpe also will remain at the helm of SouthData.
“I am still the president of the company,” he said. “I actually have greater responsibilities.”
Though the recent sale is technically an acquisition, it has felt more like a merger, according to Springthorpe.
He believes the move will ensure SouthData’s long-term success.
“These guys have a commitment — they have a 20-year lease on the facility here in Mount Airy,” he said of OSG officials.
“We believe this is a positive thing,” Springthorpe said.
“And we’re looking forward to moving ahead.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-719-1924 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.