NEP Group Inc. is behind the scenes — literally and figuratively — of a lot of the sporting and live events we watch on television, whether that’s the NFL, NHL, MLB, the Olympics, The Voice or Jimmy Kimmel Live.
The company is a leader in the industry, but not well known to the public.
“We quite honestly enjoy it that way. Again, as an outsourced service, our job is to be an extension of our clients, and our clients are great at producing content, live sports and live entertainment,” says CEO Kevin Rabbitt.
“Our job is to be their technical partner, so that we can help enable them to tell the stories that they want to tell to their audiences.”
Rabbitt, who joined the company in 2012, jokes that he has a hard time explaining to his parents exactly what NEP does.
For the record, it’s a technical outsourced services business focused on live television and events. Or in other words, NEP provides engineering and complex technical solutions.
When Rabbitt took over for Founder Deb Honkus, now executive chairwoman, the company was a clear market leader in the U.S., with about 60 percent market share.
“The United States was a pretty saturated market, so the question was how do we continue to grow, as growth is the lifeblood to a company,” he says. “It creates opportunities for employees. It allows us to fund continued investments for clients.”
The solution NEP — and its new private equity firm owner — came up with was to create a worldwide network.
“That meant expanding to new geographies and expanding to a broader range of services as client needs continue to evolve, beyond remote studio and video display,” Rabbitt says.
In the last three years, NEP has more than doubled in size. It now operates in 16 countries, with greater than 50 percent of its business outside the U.S. And it has added five new service lines, for a total of eight.
It hasn’t always been easy, Rabbitt says, but NEP has stuck to an aggressive growth path and made the right moves to become a global business.
Increase the footprint
When you want to implement a new growth strategy, it starts with two things, Rabbitt says. What are your client needs? So, where do clients need your types of services? If you’re doing it just to become international, it doesn’t make sense.
And, two, how are you going to execute the plan? NEP wanted to grow through acquisition, as opposed to starting up new businesses in new geographies.
NEP only wanted to add companies that fit its culture — a culture of service leadership and innovation where clients from both companies would work in each other’s space.
NEP is in a small enough industry that it knew who would fit those criteria.
So, Rabbitt called the CEOs and owners of about 15 target companies and asked to meet with them to talk about NEP’s plans.
“I went out and did about a month-long self-driven roadshow,” he says. “I went and talked to all the CEOs that we knew were service leaders — to get to know each other a little better.
“I outlined what we were trying to get done and it really resonated with many of them,” Rabbitt says. “They said, ‘Yeah, that is a better way to service our clients. Our clients’ needs are growing outside of our specific geography.’”