Inside Catapult's growth strategy

It's been almost a year since Catapult Technology was acquired by the private equity group D.C. Capital Partners, and the company has been a hive of activity since. We take a look at the new faces and explore where this company is headed.

It was last July that Catapult Technology was acquired by the private equity firm  D.C. Capital Partners, causing the company to undergo a shift in its executive management and to begin shaping a new identity.

At that point in time, the company had come a long way from when it was founded in 1996 by Randy Slager as a small business, which he grew to nearly $150 million in annual revenue. 

Mark Hunker

Catapult CEO Mark Hunker

Since last year's acquisition, “we’ve gotten into our new routine, and we’ve been honing the skill sets that we have, and the contracts that we’re going to focus on, now that we’re part of a larger entity,” said Mark Hunker, Catapult president and CEO. Hunker replaced Slager after the sale to D.C. Capital.

The company has been focusing its IT practice, and has reconstituted its management and consulting practice, Hunker said. The two areas are the company’s main “sweet spots,” as Hunker calls them.

Within its IT sweet spot, Catapult has focused on some larger IT infrastructure work; in fact, in the middle of October, the company brought back Fred Haggard, a former Catapult employee, to be vice president of technology and management solutions.

The company has been focused is getting back to its roots, Hunker said.

Haggard was just one of many hires that the company made in an attempt to do just that. A few weeks before they hired him, for example, Catapult tapped Sonja Twiford to serve as its business development director in the same group.

The question that the company has been asking itself is, “what do we do well, and where do we want to do it?” Hunker said.

Of course, now that Catapult is part of the D.C. Capital family, it is asking some new questions, Hunker said, such as, “what can we do individually, what can we do together, and how can we harness the talent and prowess that we have, across our company lines, to go into some areas of business that we hadn’t been in before?”

D.C. Capital has also grown since Catapult Technology joined it.

One of the objectives that Fred Haggard was tasked with was the integration of a federal management services company called Kickstand that D.C.Capital acquired into Catapult.

Then, in early 2013, D.C. Capital acquired CompSec, bolstering its intelligence capabilities.

After that acquisition, Catapult brought on Bruno Mahlmann as senior vice president of its national security IT business, to leverage the company’s relationship with CompSec, and with another sister company called Strategic Intelligence Group.

D.C. Capital has become quite large, and “it’s been a great thing being a part of [it.],” Hunker said.

Catapult has had the opportunity to subcontract and prime with its sister companies, and because of that, a lot of doors have opened.

This is crucial in a fiscal climate like the one contractors are in today, with the effects of sequestration slowly starting to set in.

As a result of the new opportunities through its sister companies, Catapult hasn’t felt any pain from sequestration, but Hunker has noticed that the government is slower now.

To soften the blow as much as possible, the company has been having a steady dialogue with its government contracting officers, and will be taking an even deeper look into those relevant issues going forward.

“We’ve been doing a lot of checks and balances,” Hunker said. A big issue that the company is concerned with involves the hiring of new people onto a project.

“You need to be very clear with your government counterpart,” he said, asking questions such as “Is this a position that is funded? Should I bring them on full-time?”

No matter what, though, the company is focused on making itself stronger.

“We’ve centralized our capture functions, and we’ve centralized our business development functions,” Hunker said.

In fact, as part of centralizing these areas, the company made two more strategic hires: Grant Williams jumped on board as senior proposal manager and capture strategist, and Brian Murphy was picked up as director of business development to identify opportunities and buff up Catapult’s capture strategy. 

The company has identified the top six to eight “must win” contracts in each sweet spot, and has been doing what it needs to do in order to win them, Hunker said.

So, almost a year under the D.C. Capital Partners umbrella, Catapult Technology is doing pretty well for itself. Since the acquisition last year, the company adheres to its parents’ five pillars—Vision, People, Communication, Differentiation, and Ethics—and Hunker said that it’s been a good driver.

“You find out what you want to be, and you drive towards it,” he said.