WashingtonExec Annual Greater Washington GovCon Awards Finalist Series
The clock is ticking. With just a few weeks away from the “Oscars of the Government Contracting Community,” the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and the Professional Services Council will both share the winners of the 13th annual Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards.
As we count down to the grand event at The Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner, WashingtonExec is interviewing “Executive of the Year” and “Contractor of the Year” finalists about how they’re setting their businesses apart in the government contracting arena, and how they’re attracting a new generation of workers to implement their mission.
Vistronix Intelligence & Technology Solutions President and CEO John Hassoun spoke with WashingtonExec on how the company has grown during the last 18 months, how they’re working to remain being an “employer of choice” and the ways the company is giving back to the community.
Vistronix is a finalist in the Contractor of the Year category for companies worth $75 million to $300 million.
WashingtonExec: What is your organization’s plan for growth during the next three to five years?
John Hassoun: Vistronix Intelligence & Technology Solutions is a mission systems innovator solving complex data challenges. Our plans for growth revolve around helping national security and federal agency customers collect, process, secure and exploit big data for mission success. During the next three to five years, we will continue to make investments and continue to acquire companies that provide us with the mission expertise, technology differentiation and software talent to help our customers achieve their objectives. We are focused on the mission sets of Cyber & SIGINT, OSINT & Media Exploitation, ISR and Enterprise Class Data Analytics. We leverage our core capabilities across the entire company in Advanced Analytics, Signal Processing, Cloud Computing and Large-Scale Data Management to deliver mission solutions. As we grow, our plan is to deepen our capabilities, sharpen our mission set expertise and expand our customer base.
Our greatest accomplishment these past 12-18 months has been our successful integration of these great firms, their technologies, their domain knowledge, their customer relationships and their talented people into one Vistronix.
WashingtonExec: What was your organization’s largest accomplishment in the last 12-18 months?
John Hassoun: With our sights on becoming a formidable mid-tier national security company, Vistronix has been rapidly building mission and technology expertise by completing several defining acquisitions of technology companies over the last few years. Our greatest accomplishment these past 12-18 months has been our successful integration of these great firms, their technologies, their domain knowledge, their customer relationships and their talented people into one Vistronix. Ron Jones, our Chief Strategy Officer, likes to say, “We have turned five fingers into a fist.” Growing from 250 employees in 2012 to more than 700 employees today, we have created a single company capable of driving greater ingenuity and innovation for our customers. Today, we have become well known in the community as a nimble player with great capability and mission expertise. And we are just getting started!
WashingtonExec: What are the largest challenges that you predict your business will face in the next 5 years?
John Hassoun: The three greatest challenges we anticipate in the next five years include continued budget pressures, tougher competition, and retaining and recruiting top talent. In a tight budgetary climate, it is imperative to find creative ways to use technology to perform operations faster and more effectively. We call this “Vistronix Ingenuity.” For example, Vistronix is helping its intelligence community and tactical ISR customers become more responsive and cost-effective by leveraging cloud-based development platforms to reduce costs and improve operations. No matter the environment, at the end of the day, as a software and solutions business, we are only as good as our people. That is why Vistronix invests in developing the top talent within our current workforce through effective training and leadership programs. And, to remain an “employer of choice,” we continue to adopt new, creative approaches to recruiting, retaining and rewarding a workforce of the most highly skilled employees.
WashingtonExec: We have seen many large, M&A transitions this year; do you anticipate this will continue in the future?
John Hassoun: We do anticipate M&A to gather more momentum, especially in reshaping capabilities and business focus. With the industry in a state of flux, and with companies looking to define their place in the market, we expect that many companies will continue to seek to acquire niche technology or specialties, as opposed to just adding more contract backlog or personnel strength. The challenge is to be able to identify those future contracts that will be most advantageous for growth and then determine the best strategic approach to winning those contracts — whether it’s through M&A activities or organic investments.
WashingtonExec: How does your organization maintain engagement with all levels of employees?
John Hassoun: Vistronix understands that it is our responsibility to engage employees and to be sure we are all aligned in our commitment to our customers’ success. To foster this commitment, Vistronix makes sure our team members, at all levels, understand our goals and specifically why their job is important to our collective success. Through regular feedback — ranging from informal breakfast meetings, weekly and quarterly meetings, to formal briefings and direct contact with supervisors and supervisors’ supervisors — we keep our employees informed of both their importance to delivering customer success, as well as to their opportunities for personal growth and enrichment.
We place a high level of importance on empowering our people to take control of the trajectory of their own career. For example, our Advanced Leadership Program develops a pipeline of future leaders by grooming high-performing employees into leaders through mentorship, coaching, seminars and training. We also have a formal program called “Innovation Spikes” that encourages Vistronix team members to showcase their skills by suggesting an innovative idea for a customer challenge or program enhancement.
WashingtonExec: How is your business involved in the community?
John Hassoun: At our very core, Vistronix is dedicated to supporting the people we call our families, friends and neighbors, and uplifting those at-risk and disadvantaged in our society. By dedicating resources at all levels, including more than $100,000 of charitable contributions and another $100,000 supporting key professional organizations in 2014, we volunteer and raise money and awareness for organizations that improve lives, cure diseases, inspire hope, advance medical treatments, educate our students and empower those who are in need. This year, in recognition of the 25th year of our founding, we encouraged our employees to raise an additional $25,000 which would then be matched by Vistronix. Our employees were asked to nominate those charities of greatest interest to them. With 28 nominations, ranging from the Wounded Warrior Project, America’s VetDogs, National MS Society and the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program, Vistronix employees rose to the occasion and exceeded their goal by raising $28,658 in less than two months! This exemplifies our motto of being a company of “doers” who, when faced with a challenge, find a way or make a way to be successful.