Q&A With Open Systems Inc. CEO Michael Bertini



Michael Bertini, Owner & CEO, Open Systems, Inc.

TLDR; Michael Bertini has quietly owned and consistently grown Shakopee-based Open Systems Inc. via acquisition since 1990, developers of enterprise software solutions for over 50,000 global customers with 500 employees.

You won’t see him egotizing on social media or read about him on some arbitrary ‘who’s who’ list, because this Minnesota tech CEO is too busy running his company to care.  Australian native Michael Bertini is the owner of Shakopee-based Open Systems Inc. and we reached out to connect after picking up back to back acquisition news last month.

Franklin Partners

What is the background of Open Systems Inc. ?

In 1976 Unisys created a division called Open Systems Software around a product OSAS that was enterprise accounting software. I was representing Unisys as a product distributor in Australia and Asia, and I saw a corporate company with a product that could use an entrepreneurial push.

I knew the product, knew the people, the clients and resellers — so I eventually reached out and made an offer to buy it from Unisys in 1990. I flew to the US and made them an offer with 1/3 already in escrow and closed the deal very quickly because I knew what they needed and was willing to give it to them fast and easy.

How much did you buy it from them for?

A lot, even for 1990, it was in the millions for sure.

OK what did you do with the company upon purchasing it?

We grew it! Building on the core product, we expanded our reseller model very aggressively around the world while rolling out another product called TRAVERSE.  Between the product subscription, custom development and maintenance

What markets do you serve and how do you describe your value proposition?

Manufacturing/distribution, retail and service industries are the highest concentrations. We have decades of credibility & competence with accounting, CRM, ERP, and mobile sytems that can serve a wide variety of needs that our customers have.

How many employees do you have overall and how many in Minnesota?

We have about 500 overall, with about 150+ in our Shakopee headquarters

Why the acquisition of Southware and ProcessPro here in St. Cloud?

Southware has great technology and good reseller relationships where we saw an opportunity to work together. ProcessPro is an extremely niche company that’s very good at what they do in the food industry. That was all about augmenting and expanding within the vertical.

How many prior acquisitions have you made?

Somewhere between 15-20 over the last 5-7 years.

What kind of revenues are you realizing?

We’re not at $100m yet, which is annoying.

Who are some large customers that you work with?

Not to name names…we have over 50,000 customers, some of which are in the billions of revenues and most of which are in the SMB market.

Who do you commonly compete with?

Don’t we all, as entrepreneurs, compete against ourselves first and foremost? But let’s be honest, it’s a crowded market so we’re always bumping up against someone, from Quickbooks to SAP.

What does the end-game for Open Systems Inc. look like?

It looks good! I don’t know…I’m having fun growing this business while maintaining control…I’m not interested in venture capital or private equity or going public and answering to anyone but my people — employees and customers. For now we’re going to keep growing organically and by acquiring good partners.

Why do you maintain such a low profile here in Minnesota?

My priority is to have a high profile with my customers around the world.

What does success look like to you?

When my customers and my employees are growing, as long as things are going in the right direction and stakeholders are happy I am successful.

What is the biggest question mark in your mind?

Every business is part of factors beyond their control, like the global economy. So it’s knowing, seeing and planning for growth through change.

What advice do you have to others?

Have fun.
Be accessible.
Product, people, process.