Two area tech firms merge

Louisiana tech companies e-Gov Systems and Antares Technology Solutions announced a merger Wednesday, though the companies will continue to operate independently.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Antares is a Baton Rouge software developer and consultant founded in 1988. New Orleans-based e-Gov Systems runs an online portal for payment of sales and use taxes. The two companies have 50 employees, combined.

The companies will continue to operate as they have, but will do so now under an umbrella company called Ram Ware LLC, said Ezra Hodge, chief executive officer of Ram Ware. Hodge said that as far as products, clients and management structure go, the deal won’t change anything.

While mergers are often about creating efficiences, Hodge said the union between Antares and e-Gov is all about growth.

“We’re going to keep every employee because we plan to grow,” he said.

Given current growth plans, Hodge said employment could double within the next two years.

Hodge said Antares has offices at the Louisiana Technology Park on Florida Boulevard and off Essen Lane in Baton Rouge, but will soon sign a lease on a new space somewhere between the two and consolidate there.

The New Orleans office will remain and fluctuate between six and 10 employees. Hodge noted that since Katrina, much of e-Gov’s workforce has been working from the tech park.

The company has offices in Alabama and Houston, with only a couple of employees there. Hodge said the company intends to service its growth in other markets through its offices and employees in Louisiana.

Hodge said the strong distinction between the companies will remain, but there is potential crossover. Antares has a lot of upcoming products that should do well with government clients, and e-Gov’s relationships with government entities should provide potential customers, he said.

Hodge said processing of electronic checks and credit cards is something the companies currently support but could be tapped further, and he added the financial industry is another potential customer base.

In a broader sense, e-Gov is taking off nationally and needs access to software developers to support its growth, while Antares, as an established service provider, is more vulnerable to peaks and valleys in terms of revenue, he said.

Antares has customers in the oil and gas industry, with products that help them comply with regulations, for example, but also in retail, health care and government. A Microsoft Certified Gold Partner for application development, Antares makes apps that help employees and clients access a company’s system.

As for e-Gov, the company holds the contract with Louisiana state government supporting the e-filing system businesses here use to pay sales taxes they collect. Nearly every sales tax return and remittance filed online in Louisiana, for example, is dependent in some way on e-Gov Systems’ products or systems.

Its cloud-based product line supports hundreds of local governments in six states, with nearly 600,000 business sales tax filings, payments, fees and fines — $3.1 billion — paid or reported last year.

Rick Mekdessie, president and founder of e-Gov Systems, praised the Louisiana Technology Park for giving the company a place to regroup in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“We now have national opportunities, but we still want to employ and invest in local talent,” he said in a news release. “It’s our turn to give back by employing locally whenever possible.”