Acquisition of Aquatic Informatics: An Interview with Kevin Klau from Danaher
Recently acquired from XPV Water Partners by Danaher’s Water Quality platform, Aquatic Informatics provides software solutions that address critical water data management, analytics, and compliance challenges for the global water industry. In this interview, Kevin Klau, Danaher Vice President and Group Executive, Water Quality Platform explains how Aquatic Informatics is a strong strategic fit and discussed his experiences with executing the acquisition during a pandemic.
Can you describe the strategic vision for the Danaher Water Quality Platform and what role M&A plays?
Kevin Klau: The Danaher Water Quality platform is solving municipal and industrial customers’ most critical water cycle problems by leveraging our leading chemistry, biology and digital applications expertise. Looking ahead, we expect to continue outperforming by driving profitable growth while also extending our leadership positions by partnering with and acquiring companies that fit our strategy and are well aligned culturally.
How does Aquatic Informatics strategically fit this vision?
Klau: Aquatic Informatics is one of the leading, pure software companies in the water sector. Their capabilities – specifically their focus on water data management, analytics, and compliance – position them well to serve both municipal and industrial customers, which fits right in line with our strategy. In addition, as we said when we acquired them, they will operate as a standalone software company within Danaher’s Water Quality platform, enabling each of the operating companies to leverage Aquatic Informatics’ capabilities.
What impressed you the most as you got to know the Aquatic Informatics business and team?
Klau: Four things: 1) The team – water expertise, great talent across the key functions and a vision that can extend for years to come; 2) The products and technology – scalable, cloud-native & clean user experience; 3) Customer intimacy – from large customers to small, from municipal to industrial, their customer satisfaction scores are very high and they have a deep understanding of industry and customer needs; 4) Culture – by choosing to make Aquatic Informatics a certified B-corporation focused on people, profit and impact, [President] Ed Quilty instilled a deep sense of mission in the company’s culture. It was also clear that XPV’s work to help the company scale over the past few years took hold, as their operating discipline aligns really well with how we think about growing and running businesses at Danaher.
While many other companies where internally focused due to COVID-19, you engaged and completed the acquisition of Aquatic Informatics. What gave you the confidence to buy the company in such a challenging time, especially when it was not possible to follow a typical acquisition process?
Klau: First, it was the strong strategic alignment. We have strong conviction about the water operations and water quality software space, and we saw Aquatic Informatics as being well positioned. Second, it was the relationship with Ed and some members of his team that started well before COVID-19. Third, it was a professional process, led by XPV and managed by Ed and the Aquatic Informatics team. There are always risks, whether or not there is a pandemic. However, our team worked well with theirs throughout the process; this only increased our confidence in the business and the transaction. Finally, this was a unique opportunity at a great time for us. Knowing these opportunities don’t come around all that often, sometimes we have to be creative and agile when they do, which definitely describes our approach on this transaction.
Now that you have completed the Aquatic Informatics acquisition, where do you see the next big opportunities emerging for your platform?
Klau: We continue to see the water operations and water quality measurement software spaces as strategic themes for our platform. Most businesses have a software aspect these days, and we see the opportunity to enhance our instrumentation and service positions with software to help our customers solve valuable problems and improve their businesses. Our operating companies are leaders in their respective markets with great brands – Hach, ChemTreat, Trojan Technologies, OTT HydroMet, Pall Water, Sea-Bird – and we are emerging even stronger from the challenges we have experienced this year. So we will continue to drive solid operational performance in each business, embracing the Danaher Business System to help us continue to improve, and where it makes sense and is good for customers, we will come together as a platform like we did in the case of the Aquatic Informatics acquisition.