August 30, 2017

Korber acquires HighJump

German logistics firm adds U.S. WMS provider to build software capabilities in North American market.

By Ben Ames

German logistics technology provider Korber AG said today it acquired the supply chain technology vendor HighJump Software Inc. in a deal that could expand Korber's capabilities as an enterprise software vendor and allow it to compete for customers in a sector being squeezed by giants like Amazon.com Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Korber purchased Minneapolis-based HighJump from private equity firm Accell-KKR, which owned HighJump for the past five years. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. HighJump's sister company, the cloud-based electronic data interchange (EDI) platform provider TrueCommerce, was not included in the deal.

Adding HighJump allows Korber to broaden its logistics software portfolio in North America, HighJump CEO Chad Collins said in an interview. Korber provides three categories of solutions for that market: Material handling equipment for DC automation (such as picking and palletization tools), material handling systems integration services, and supply chain software, he said. Korber will add HighJump to the third group, making it part of the software business unit of its Logistics Systems division, alongside its Aberle Software, Inconso, and DMLogic LLC brands.

The DMLogic acquisition was intended to expand Korber's presence in the U.S. systems integration market, allowing it to compete for business in a sector that has been dominated by companies such as Dematic Corp. and Intelligrated Systems Inc., Bob Kennedy, DMLogic's vice president of business development, said in an interview."

The acquisition of HighJump "gives Korber more of an entrée into the U.S. market, which was the driving force behind their acquiring DMLogic," Kennedy said. While HighJump, Inconso, and DMLogic all have warehouse management system (WMS) platforms, the products address different market niches based on variations in technology, geography, and the size of customer they serve, he said.

Judging by Korber's record of letting acquired companies operate independently, HighJump customers should not see any change due to the company's new ownership, or its split from TrueCommerce, which will continue to resell HighJump software, HighJump's Collins said.

The bigger impact of the acquisition is that it will allow HighJump to accelerate its growth as a provider of supply chain management software, he said. "What drove the change in ownership was that we required, one, the ability to have more growth internationally, and two, to have more access to capital for making additional acquisitions in the supply chain space," Collins said.

HighJump has grown through a series of takeovers in recent years. In February, it acquired voice-directed picking technology vendor Vitech Business Group Inc. and the trade data network provider RedTail Solutions Inc. The firm also bought the cloud-based business-to-business (B2B) integration solution provider Wesupply Ltd. in 2015, and the cloud-based technology provider Nexternal Solutions in 2014.

Maintaining a fast pace of growth through acquisition is crucial for keeping up with changing demands driven by trends such as rising e-commerce sales, omnichannel fulfillment, and consumer expectations for package delivery, Collins said. "Customers want to buy their technology from a single provider, especially as we see a convergence of software in the DC with robotics and automation in the DC," he said.

Korber sees large growth potential in providing supply chain solutions for the North American market because those trends are impacting more than just retailers, Collins said. Market pressures are also squeezing the third party logistics providers (3PLs) that handle retailers' outsourced fulfillment, as well as the consumer products suppliers that increasingly run their own drop shipping and e-commerce operations instead of shipping solely to traditional retail outlets, Collins said.

"With the acquisition of HighJump we are really putting down a marker in the [supply chain management software] sector as we are taking a leading international position in the areas of supply chain management and cloud solutions," Stephan Seifert, chairman of the group executive board at Korber, said in a statement. "We want to be the go-to company worldwide for our customers when it comes to providing support for their successful business development."

About the Author

Ben Ames
Senior Editor
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

More articles by Ben Ames

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