Interblock’s global CEO John Connelly talks business with Casino International.
Interblock has moved from strength to strength in the past few years, becoming a very different animal under John Connelly’s watchful eye. From being one of the most innovative suppliers in the industry, the company has become a global player and, John tells us, they’re not done yet.
Casino International: Interblock seems to have adopted a more corporate structure since your appointment; operations are more structured and less reliant on one person to push all the buttons. Would you agree with that?
John Connelly: We have definitely enhanced several key aspects within our company over the past few years, while positioning ourselves for several growth opportunities in the future.
The best way I can summarise Interblock’s evolution would be with two primary phases: infrastructure and diversification.
Initially, we needed to invest heavily within several key areas of our company to position ourselves for the future, updating the systems and tools necessary to expand in a controlled fashion. We also needed to build capacity to support our company that had more than doubled in size over the past 36 months. Hiring qualified employees and training was an endeavour in itself.
In parallel, we spent a tremendous amount of time diversifying nearly all aspects of our company. Everything from suppliers, product portfolio, revenue streams, service, et cetera were all areas in need of attention.
Fast forward to today and we are very close to achieving the goals we outlined as a team, and are positioned to take Interblock to the next level.
We were very fortunate that during this transition period, we were able to begin sharing with the industry our growing knowledge of Electronic Table Games (ETG), which resulted in a tremendous growth period for our company; one we hope to continue for several years to come.
CI: What are you planning to release that will have such a dramatic impact?
JC: We are planning to try and redefine the traditional view of Electronic Table Games (ETGs) in the months to come. We have created products and features designed to leap-frog the industry and enable casinos to begin thinking about a much larger footprint associated within this segment moving forward.
As can been seen with the momentum being seen with our Stadium concepts across Asia, North/South America and Europe; we have invested heavily in additional concepts to bring even more new players onto casino floors in 2019.
CI: What difference does having a Nevada base mean for you?
JC: It has several advantages when being in the gaming sector: your ability to see virtually everyone within the industry on a regular basis is a forgone conclusion, access to the Middle East, Latin America and Europe are only a flight away; having a Nevada license and infrastructure enables you to move more quickly into several other markets globally.
In addition, workforce talent is highly concentrated within this area, something becoming harder to find.
CI: It’s tough for companies to grow safely and not over-trade – would you describe Interblock’s growth as organic?
JC: This is an area becoming more critical than ever when evaluating companies within the gaming sector. We have seen a tremendous amount of M&A activity over the past decade and a considerable amount of debt refinancing. However, at some point organic growth is essential, unless you can buy undervalued assets vs your PE multiple and subsequently keep your leverage low.
With this said, we work hard each day to build a company that has a healthy cash flow stream, little to no dependency on M&A for growth and a low leverage ratio. This by no means indicates that we are opposed to M&A transactions but rather they will be considered as an opportunity for growth, not a necessity!
Thus far, we have been fortunate to double the size of Interblock over the past three-and-a-half years through organic means.