The Connor Group/First Billing Services headquarters building in Miami Twp. off Ohio 741. CONTRIBUTED

Connor Group sells company for $57.5M

Miami Twp.-based real estate investment firm The Connor Group is selling its billing services company, the company has announced.

First Billing Services has been sold for $57.5 million to Paya, a provider of integrated payment and commerce solutions, First Billing said in a statement.

First Billing Services provides billing solutions to utilities and municipal government clients.

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Larry Connor, chief executive of The Connor Group, and Pat Dorsey, CEO of First Billing Services, founded the company in 2011 with software originally developed for the apartment industry.

The Connor Group’s mainstay business is purchasing carefully selected apartment properties around the country, improving them, then selling them for a return.

Today, First Billing provides “comprehensive electronic bill presentment and payment solutions to utility and municipal government clients,” the company said in its statement.

Connor and Dorsey said in the release that the bidding process and ultimate sale validated major changes the company has made in recent years.

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As recently as July 2015, First Billing was operating at a loss, the company said.

“We were planning for what-if-we-fail scenarios,” Dorsey said via the statement. “If you plan for failure, you’ll fail. We started planning for success instead.”

After changing the company’s sales approach, First Billing said its client base grew from 500,000 to over 2.3 million.

“Like any business, people make the difference,” Connor said in the statement. “Led by Pat Dorsey on the sales and business development front and a best-in-class implementation, product development, and support team led by Sharmi Rao, First Billing relentlessly pursued finding new profitable customers and provided great system integration along with customer service.”

First Billing will continue to operate under its existing brand. The company will remain in the Dayton area, and there will no loss to the employee headcount, a company representative said.

As part of the acquisition, Paya will provide additional investment in First Billing technology and support capabilities.

The Connor Group in recent months marked its largest transactional day ever with the closing of four new property acquisitions and 10 financings totaling $618 million — a record.

The transactions that day included properties in Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, Raleigh, Chicago and Dayton.