Real experiences: Becoming part of the Harris family | System Innovators
May 13, 2021

Real experiences System Innovators


Meet: Jim Simak, former Chief Executive Officer of System Innovators and current Senior Executive Vice President for Harris Utilities

Jim Simak’s desire to learn and try new things is evident in the numerous industries he’s explored in his career: tech, defense and aviation, telecommunications, public safety, utilities and local government. Jim’s curiosity continues to flourish at Harris, serving as EVP at Harris Govern, moving up to SEVP for Harris’ public safety portfolio, leading our corporate strategy for Organic Growth and currently managing a portfolio of business in the Harris Utilities group.

Jim left IBM to lead System Innovators (SI) through the next stage of its succession plan: preparing to sell the business. The owner, Roger Nelson, wanted to retire and hired Jim to give the business the best chance at growth while maintaining customer loyalty. Just two years into their 5-year turnaround plan, SI was ready and sold to Harris, adding cashiering and revenue management products to Harris’ growing portfolio of utility and local government solutions.

Why Harris?

SI had decades-long, family-like ties with their customers, which include some of the largest counties across the US, and their next home needed to honor those relationships and the high standard of care they had come to expect. Jim recalls, “Harris checked all the boxes – the decentralized operating structure gave me the freedom to maintain our dedicated customer support after acquisition and Harris’ software-for-life approach made sure that SI was always there for our customers by not phasing out the software.” Jeff Sumner, who was VP of Operations and is now EVP for SI, adds, “I had worked through three acquisition and business transitions before SI and Harris, and this time was different – Harris did what they said they were going to do. They kept their word.”

What should Sellers know about Harris the acquisition process?

Beyond fit and financials, sellers should look for synergies with Harris’ values as a way to visualize the possibilities and opportunities that Harris can offer your business. Two values, ‘dream realization’ and ‘communicate and share knowledge’, stand out for Jim and Jeff.

Jim explains: “I was afforded the flexibility to realize my dream of pursuing my doctorate in economics and entrepreneurship. Additionally, my employees have received opportunities to grow into new and exciting roles, beyond anything SI could have offered on its own.”

Jeff’s experience was similar, adding, “the knowledge and experience of Harris executives are incredibly helpful; there’s lots of collaboration and mentorship happening. This has undoubtedly had a positive impact on the business and gave SI the resources to expand and improve upon our central revenue management platform, iNovah.”


Connect with Jim Simak or Jeff Sumner to learn more about M&A at Harris.
Read more acquisition experiences: Iatric SystemsMitchell & McCormick and Logilys.


About Harris

Harris acquires vertical market software businesses, manages them using industry best practices, and builds them for the future. Through acquisitions, Harris has grown extensively from its roots in the utilities, local government, education, and healthcare sectors to operate over 150 businesses globally across more than twenty industries. Harris is an operating group of Constellation Software Inc. (TSX: CSU), one of North America’s most active acquirers of software businesses.