WashingtonExec, in partnership with the Fairfax Chambers of Commerce, kicked off a new series profiling government contractors nominated for the 9th Annual Greater Washington Government Contracting Awards. Interviewed nominees include small, mid-size and large “Executive of the Year” as well as “Contractor of the Year” finalists. The winners will be announced on November 1st at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner.
This quick bi-weekly series asks nominees direct questions as to how they achieved success and notoriety in the GovCon community.
Today’s series nominee is Randy Slager, founder, chairman and CEO of Catapult Technology, a Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned (SDVO) mid-size IT consulting firm. Slager is nominated for “Executive of the Year” in the $75-$300 million division.
WashingtonExec: As a nominated CEO “executive of the year”, how are you building a strong, stable and innovative company?
Randy Slager: 1. Catapult has diversified in terms of our lines of business, which includes tried-and-true systems engineering and other information technology services, management consulting services, and human resources outsourcing services. Having this broad array of services enables us to bring specific expertise to our contracts, as well as broaden our role within an agency with which we are already working by introducing new solutions.
2. Last year, Catapult graduated from the 8(a) small business program, a federal program we participated in for its usual nine-year duration. Prior to graduating, we were bidding on contracts on a full and open basis, and we have been increasingly positioning ourselves as a subcontractor. This helps mitigate the challenges that being a mid-tier company can bring, including the significant up-front investment in time and dollars required when bidding on large, full and open opportunities as a prime contractor. Catapult is cultivating a reputation as a sought-after subcontractor.
3. Increasingly, government agencies expect contractors to follow industry best practices. That is why we hold important industry certifications and follow their tenets to ensure that our customers (current and future) are confident that they will get the highest-quality service backed by best practices. These certifications include International Standards Organization (ISO) designations (ISO 20000:2008 and ISO 9001:2008); Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL®); and Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI®) Maturity level 3.
WashingtonExec: Obtaining top talent in the private sector is fierce. How does your company not only draw top talent, but maintain it?
Randy Slager: Increasingly, today’s professionals are attracted to not only competitive salaries and benefits, but also to companies that implement programs that demonstrate a real commitment to valuing employees. Catapult’s people appreciate the continual addition of benefits, including flexible work schedules, telework opportunities, wellness program initiatives, and no-cost long-term care.
Our Human Resources department is appropriately staffed to give employees excellent customer service and quick turnaround on service requests. We have also initiated automated processes for employees to come on board, enroll in benefits, access their personnel information through online Employee Self Service and complete their performance evaluations online.
The company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) was established last year as a resource to assist employees when they need help with life situations related to care-giving, emotional well-being, health and wellness, and everyday topics like financial, legal, and home improvement matters. Catapult has a telephone “hotline” so employees can speak to a representative 24 hours a day.
Catapult also offers an online professional development program called Catapult e-Learning, which encourages all employees to pursue professional development right at their desktop. Catapult e-Learning was a major investment for us, which enables employees to pursue industry certifications pertinent to their field of work. In fact, Catapult offers a pay incentive for anyone who gains his/her professional certification through Catapult e-Learning. Employees can also pursue course credit through accredited institutions of higher learning.
Catapult takes seriously its Ethics Policy and Standards of Conduct, and is committed to upholding high ethical standards in our business practices, as well as with employee and customer relations. If an employee believes that he or she has observed potentially improper actions on the part of another employee, officer, or supplier, he or she is empowered to report such actions to our Corporate Ethics Officer.
WashingtonExec: In your opinion, how does a company stay nimble when it is in a period of large growth and expansion?
Randy Slager: A company must continually examine how it does business, ensuring that no policies inhibit our responsiveness to either employee or customer issues. It is easy to fall into the trap of setting a new policy every time something goes even slightly wrong. A company can wind up in a situation where there are so many policies that it becomes a bureaucracy in which no one can get meaningful work done. We make it a major focus to balance sound governance with pragmatic, suitable risk avoidance procedures.
WashingtonExec: People always talk about corporate culture, but what is something that your company purposely focuses on to create the ideal company culture?
Randy Slager: Catapult is committed to our employees. As previously described, we provide an extensive benefits program to complement competitive salaries.
Despite Catapult’s fast growth in recent years, upper management has made it a priority to maintain a culture that is steeped in our beginnings as a smaller company. We embrace the idea of Catapult as a family.
Away from work, Catapult’s people enjoy ongoing corporate traditions that help to maintain the company’s roots: The annual company picnic, which held at a park in Maryland; local company-sponsored events for employees living and working outside the Metro Washington, DC area; and the annual awards banquet, a more elegant affair where hundreds of employees gather and dozens are formally recognized for outstanding work during the previous year. Last year it was held in the atrium of the National Portrait Gallery in downtown Washington, DC. The prior three years it was held at the National Air and Space Museum.
Catapult thrives on a team-oriented philosophy through which our dedicated employees bring their best to their contracts and put the overall team performance above his or her own gain.
WashingtonExec: Has the tightening of the lending market affected Catapult?
Randy Slager: Catapult has taken a fiscally conservative approach to our growth. The result is that we self-fund that growth and are therefore not dependent on lines of credit or other borrowing strategies. The tightening credit market has had no affect on our operations or growth.