A Burnsville-based weather company backed by a wealthy family office in Switzerland recently made its second acquisition of the year to help extend its global weather and data information services.
DTN, which originally stood for the Data Transmission Network, announced in late November that it has integrated MeteoGroup, a European weather company based in Utrecht, Netherlands, into its system. Earlier this year, the company acquired Australia’s leading weather company, Weatherzone.
The acquisitions nearly double DTN’s global weather business. After the acquisitions, DTN’s employment has grown from nearly 700 to about 1,200 workers. And its customer base has grown to 35,000 and more than 2 million users.
DTN provides a variety of weather services for agriculture, airlines and airports, utilities, shipping and the sports and recreation industries, among others.
DTN’s weather unit is about one-third of DTN’s overall business, which also includes services for downstream energy markets, agriculture and financial analytics, said Steve Matthesen, DTN’s new CEO.
Matthesen, an Air Force veteran, joined DTN on June 1. He most recently was CEO of Acosta, a business-to-business sales and marketing agency, but has a long track record with data and analytics from 14 years at the Boston Consulting Group and seven years at Nielsen.
“Some of what we are doing is proprietary data; some of it is just a good aggregation of other data,” Matthesen said. “The goal is really — what do people need to make smart decisions to be able to grow their business better?”
DTN’s data and services help farmers know when to plant and harvest and how and when to sell their products. For energy markets, its data helps make that supply chain more efficient.
The big data capabilities mean the company is creating more and more propriety technology and solutions, which have a big impact on both safety and cost savings that come from avoiding or minimizing the impact of weather.
“The goal on all these businesses is decision support,” Matthesen said. “Weather is a fun one, because now it is shifting from, ‘Will it snow next Tuesday?’ to ‘It will snow next Tuesday so what should you do about it?’ ”
That could mean rerouting ships at sea, airlines changing their scheduling or evacuating spectators from stadiums or golf events.
“Generally data is available, but getting it to be really focused and useful and actionable for you in your particular business is the thing,” Matthesen said. “Everything is easier if you can do a bunch of planning before you are in the middle of a storm.”
DTN’s corporate roots go back to 1981 when it was founded as a provider of forecasting services.
In 1987, it incorporated as the Data Transmission Network. In 2008, it was acquired by Telvent, a Spanish company, and in 2011 Schneider Electric, a European company, acquired Telvent DTN.
DTN is now part of a Swiss group called TBG AG, a holding company based in Zurich, Switzerland, that is owned by a foundation but is essentially the investment office of the Thyssen-Bornemisza family.
According to reports TBG acquired Telvent DTN for about $900 million.
TBG AG has given the company long-term stable ownership that is willing to invest in the company after previous owners determined DTN wasn’t part of their core operations.
“Some of their other businesses are very nice industrial businesses, but we are the part of the portfolio that has the most potential for achieving a high rate of growth,” Matthesen said. “That’s my objective to really grow and build this business.”
At the time of sale from Schneider Electric to TBG in 2017, reports said that the DTN business had annual revenue of about $213 million.
Under Schneider, Electric DTN was growing in the single digits. But with TBG’s investment and support it now has a brighter future. “We should be a double-digit organic growth rate company,” Matthesen said. “We are really in the early days of where we will go over time.”
Patrick Kennedy • 612-673-7926