Michigan’s first private ISP bought by Indiana media firm

ANN ARBOR — Online Tech LLC, Michigan’s first private internet service provider dating back to the dawn of the internet era in 1994, has been acquired by Mishawaka, Ind.-based Schurz Communications Inc.

Terms of the transaction were not immediately disclosed.

The companies said Schurz owns three broadband companies serving more than 75,000 subscribers, publishes 11 daily and seven weekly newspapers in small and mid-sized markets, and has several niche publications. Its flagship publication is the South Bend Tribune in South Bend, Ind. It also owns the Charlevoix Courier, the Gaylord Herald Times and the Petoskey News-Review in Michigan. It formerly owned 13 television stations around the country, including WSBT, the CBS affiliate in South Bend, but sold them in 2015.

Yan Ness, who led a group of investors to acquire Online Tech in 2003, will step down as CEO. The company’s new CEO will be Brad Cheedle, and its new CFO, Tom Wilten.

Cheedle has 23 years of experience as a technology executive and entrepreneur, including leadership roles at companies like WOW Business, Qwest Communications, Level 3 Communications and MCI Communications. Wilten also formerly worked at Qwest, where he led the process of a $22 billion merger wtih CenturyLink.

Said Ness in a press release: “This transaction is truly win-win-win. Online Tech gets the perfect capital partners to grow the business and reach more customers than ever before. The Schurz family gets an industry-leading platform to build on and to help diversify their family business. And our clients get a much more capable IT partner who will have a renewed focus on creating exceptional customer experiences.”

Online Tech currently serves nearly 500 clients across the country with its network of seven data centers and full suite of hybrid cloud services including managed Microsoft Azure, disaster recovery as a service, and data protection as a service.

Said Cheedle in a news release: “Online Tech is an incredible company with great forward-looking people and an innovative approach to helping customers migrate to the cloud. Their customer portal is a true differentiator in our industry and provides full visibility to their secure and compliant hybrid cloud and colocation solutions.”

The company said Online Tech plans to further expand its national footprint.

Added Todd Schurz, CEO of Schurz Communications: “Our company is known for patient capital that assists growing companies realize their aspirations. Online Tech represents one of the most exciting opportunities in the cloud market today. The strong and proven management team has ambitious goals in this rapidly growing industry and we are excited to provide the support necessary to achieve them.”

More at www.onlinetech.com or www.schurz.com.

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