Ottawa's Combat Networks expands market focus with T.O. acquisition

Christopher Emery
Christopher Emery is the CEO of Ottawa-based Combat Networks. Photo courtesy Christopher Emery

A growing Ottawa-based firm that installs and manages cloud-based networks for clients across Canada has taken another step toward its goal of becoming a full managed-service provider after buying a southern Ontario IT company.

Combat Networks said this week it’s finalized a deal to acquire Duologik, a Toronto firm that installs network infrastructure used in data centres and cloud-based networks. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Founded 20 years ago, Combat Networks now employs about 130 people in Ottawa, the Greater Toronto Area, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. Its customers include Shared Services Canada and other federal departments as well as hospitals, municipal governments and police and fire services.

While the company has traditionally focused on installing, managing and maintaining the software required to run cloud-based networks, Combat has begun branching out into providing the infrastructure that underpins those operations, says CEO Christopher Emery.

“It’s a move toward bringing a full solution to our customers,” he says of Combat’s latest M&A play. “We thought it would be a good idea to be able to offer our customers not just the software part, but the IT infrastructure part underneath it as well.”

Emery, a longtime tech executive whose resume includes stints at Bell, Nortel, Cisco Systems and Rogers, took over as head of the firm last April. He replaced founder Rob Finucan, who founded Combat Networks in 2001 and retired after the company was acquired by Vancouver-based private equity firm Ardenton Capital last year.

“Rob did a great job in building the company and establishing a great customer list,” Emery says. “My intention is to grow it … and to make it all it can be.”

Combat’s new leader says the dramatic shift to remote work during the pandemic has ratcheted up the volume of traffic on local wireless networks that are now straining under the pressure of serving much larger geographic areas.

Fortune 1000 customers

“What we learned as an industry is that we have to have networks that are very elastic,” he explains, adding the acquisition gives Combat more tools to help customers keep up with growing demands on their IT infrastructure.

“These networks are really, really important. What we’re trying to do is evolve our portfolio so we can adapt to this new reality.”

While the firm also serves the private sector and counts Fortune 1000 companies among its clients, its sweet spot will always be governments and publicly funded agencies, Emery says.

“We’re quite happy in the shoes we’re wearing,” he adds. “We think we’ve developed some great relationships with those customers and knowledge of that industry.”