Zebra makes asset-tracking play with buys worth $106m

Thursday, November 8, 2007

VERNON HILLS, Ill.--Zebra Technologies, known most in the security industry for ID card printers, announced in October the intent to purchase California-based Navis Holdings, an asset-tracking software maker, for $145 million, and the acquisition of proveo, a German manufacturer of a real-time location systems (RTLS), for $16.3 million. Zebra will pay cash for both, pending federal approval of the Navis deal, which Zebra expects before the end of 2007.
Both deals support Zebra's intent to specialize in products that identify, locate and track assets, said Phil Gerskovich, Zebra's senior vice president of corporate development. "Increasingly," he said, "people want the same thing whether they're trying to reduce inventory levels or trying to track assets for security. They want to know where everything is at all times."
Navis, for example, makes software that allows for the scheduling of moving assets. A common application is at a marine terminal, Gerskovich said, "where containers are being offloaded from ships and put on trucks and leave the terminal; their system is used to schedule and move those assets as they move through the terminal."
Similarly, proveo's products track vehicles, acting as access control, to identify who is using the vehicle, and system monitor, telling you "where they are, how they are being used ... is it time for maintenance, has it run into anything," said Gerskovich. "You can reduce the total pieces of equipment you have because you can better utilize the equipment you have."
He said both companies' product brands will remain, but the company names will be phased out, and "We anticipate that most of the employees will continue to work for the organization going forward."
Both investments, Gerskovich emphasized, point to Zebra's belief that "the investment that people are making in asset tracking and in security really can overlap. Properly designed, a system can be used for both purposes."