May 16, 2012

CEO: Lowcountry Tech Sector ?Holds Promise?

Matt Tomsic  /  Charleston Regional Business Journal

A Canadian company sees promise in the Lowcountry's tech sector and expects to add more employees to Charleston-based Avista Solutions following its recent acquisition.

"We think this is a very material growth opportunity," said Gerrard Schmid, CEO of D&H.

In early May, D&H paid $40 million for Avista, which specializes in mortgage lending software. The acquisition complements D&H's Mortgagebot subsidiary, which originates mortgages for more than 1,100 U.S. banks and credit unions.

Schmid said D&H acquired Mortgagebot in April 2011.

"Shortly after that, we got to speaking about what else we might consider doing in the mortgage space in the U.S.," he said, adding Avista kept popping up.

D&H approached Avista in late 2011 at a conference in Chicago, and the two companies began talks.

Executives from both companies traveled back and forth from D&H's Toronto headquarters and Charleston. They examined the companies' cultures and how they might fit together.

"That, I think was the tone –- theme –- behind the first several conversations," Schmid said.

Schmid said Avista is one of a few tech companies in the mortgage industry that uses software-as-a-service, which provides more benefits than other companies using legacy technology.

D&H hopes to expand Avista quickly and pull talent from local colleges and universities, Schmid said, adding he has done a cursory look at the tech resources in the Lowcountry.

"It looks on the surface like it's still relatively nascent," he said. "But it holds promise."