Web accessibility firms team up

A Hanover County IT firm has joined forces with its biggest competitor.

TecAccess, an information technology company based in Rockville, Va., announced this month a deal that will give SSB Bart Group gradual ownership of a large stake in TecAccess over the next three years.

The deal, which brings together two firms that help companies make their websites more accessible to people with disabilities, will give TecAccess a larger, more stable financial backing and will help McLean-based SSB Bart Group round out its product offerings.

“We’re working with TecAccess to restructure and reorganize the company,” said Tim Springer, CEO of SSB.

Springer said that his company has been talking to TecAccess for the past four years about the possibility of the acquisition but that it wasn’t until last year that TecAccess began considering it.

“We’ve known TecAccess for a while. We saw a lot of potential in the marketplace,” said Springer.

Debra Ruh, founder and CEO of TecAccess, said the companies have collaborated on projects since 2003. SSB helps companies test and audit their websites for accessibility. TecAccess designs and develops the actual sites.

“They were our biggest competitor, but we were always very friendly with each other,” said Ruh.

Ruh said that TecAccess, which she founded in 2001, suffered during the economic downturn and that that made a potential deal with SSB more attractive.

“We really felt it in the first half of 2010,” she said.

In 2008, the company did $1.8 million in sales, but two years later budget cuts in the federal government, the largest industry the TecAccess serves, dealt a 40 percent hit to its bottom line.

“The government pulled back on the type of contracts we provide,” Ruh said. “Contracts were put on hold.”

Ruh was forced to cut her staff from 25 to 12 over the past two years and needed a way to get back on her feet.

“I grew my company to a great level, but I couldn’t get over the hump.”

Ruh said SSB is providing some funding to add the new services and help TecAccess grow the business.

“They brought stability to us,” she said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Springer will remain CEO of SSB and Ruh will remain CEO of TecAccess and take on a new role as chief marketing officer for SSB.

SSB employs about 100 people, 50 percent of whom have disabilities. TecAccess will add a team of 11 to their staff that will work among the Richmond, Washington and San Francisco locations.

Ruh said the goal for the end of the year is $10 million in revenue between the two companies. SSB plans to acquire 49 percent of TecAccess within the next three years.

“Now the focus is on how to continue to make a difference and make sure things are accessible to all citizens,” Ruh said.

A Hanover County IT firm has joined forces with its biggest competitor.

TecAccess, an information technology company based in Rockville, Va., announced this month a deal that will give SSB Bart Group gradual ownership of a large stake in TecAccess over the next three years.

The deal, which brings together two firms that help companies make their websites more accessible to people with disabilities, will give TecAccess a larger, more stable financial backing and will help McLean-based SSB Bart Group round out its product offerings.

“We’re working with TecAccess to restructure and reorganize the company,” said Tim Springer, CEO of SSB.

Springer said that his company has been talking to TecAccess for the past four years about the possibility of the acquisition but that it wasn’t until last year that TecAccess began considering it.

“We’ve known TecAccess for a while. We saw a lot of potential in the marketplace,” said Springer.

Debra Ruh, founder and CEO of TecAccess, said the companies have collaborated on projects since 2003. SSB helps companies test and audit their websites for accessibility. TecAccess designs and develops the actual sites.

“They were our biggest competitor, but we were always very friendly with each other,” said Ruh.

Ruh said that TecAccess, which she founded in 2001, suffered during the economic downturn and that that made a potential deal with SSB more attractive.

“We really felt it in the first half of 2010,” she said.

In 2008, the company did $1.8 million in sales, but two years later budget cuts in the federal government, the largest industry the TecAccess serves, dealt a 40 percent hit to its bottom line.

“The government pulled back on the type of contracts we provide,” Ruh said. “Contracts were put on hold.”

Ruh was forced to cut her staff from 25 to 12 over the past two years and needed a way to get back on her feet.

“I grew my company to a great level, but I couldn’t get over the hump.”

Ruh said SSB is providing some funding to add the new services and help TecAccess grow the business.

“They brought stability to us,” she said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Springer will remain CEO of SSB and Ruh will remain CEO of TecAccess and take on a new role as chief marketing officer for SSB.

SSB employs about 100 people, 50 percent of whom have disabilities. TecAccess will add a team of 11 to their staff that will work among the Richmond, Washington and San Francisco locations.

Ruh said the goal for the end of the year is $10 million in revenue between the two companies. SSB plans to acquire 49 percent of TecAccess within the next three years.

“Now the focus is on how to continue to make a difference and make sure things are accessible to all citizens,” Ruh said.

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