Contract wins fuel Harris growth trend

Harris Corp. landed a series of contract wins in communications and missile defense that are driving growth opportunities. What's the key to Harris' success in a tough market?

A steady stream of contract wins in a variety of business sectors helped Harris Corp. thrive last year, even as sequestration threatened.

One notable win was a $297 million deal awarded by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command to Harris’ RF business. Under it, the Navy can acquire Harris Falcon tactical radios and accessories. Another came from the Veterans Affairs Department, which  awarded Harris Healthcare Solutions an $80.3 million contract to integrate VA and Defense Department electronic health records. The Harris Government Communications sector won a $50 million contract for fixed, transportable satellite terminals that provide reach-back capability for soldiers in the field under the Army's Modernization of Enterprise Terminals program.

“It’s an important contract for us since the solution provides the worldwide backbone for strategic, high-priority military communications and missile defense systems,” said Jim Morris, group president of Integrated Network Solutions at Harris. His unit had revenue of $1.6 billion in 2012, or 29 percent of the company’s $5.5 billion in revenue last year.

The Melbourne, Fla., company earned the No. 13 spot on the 2013 Top 100 with $2.1 billion in prime contract

To maintain the pace of contract wins, especially during sequestration, Harris is working to provide more services and a strategic partnership with customers, Morris said. One area with growth potential is the company’s end-to-end Ultra-High Frequency Tactical Satellite solution. Combining Harris’ radios and waveforms with satellite services, it provides dedicated channels with the ability to split them into networks for multiple users.

“The UHF solution is an exciting one because before its launch, international and U.S. government users had to compete for bandwidth on military UHF constellations,” he said.

The company also will continue to develop its wideband networking capabilities, including tactical radios, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. For instance, Harris offers a mobile app called Mobile Map that can communicate with other mobile devices and give live geolocations, promising to change how military customers view personal situational awareness, Morris said.

Sequestration is a challenge, but the company is running business as usual.

“Harris has a distinctive set of technologies that solve difficult problems for a pretty diverse and demanding group of customers,” he said. “We’re going to continue to build off that and really focus on our execution. This will help open up more opportunities and provide us with longer-term growth.”

The future is bright, Morris added, citing a revised long-term business strategy put in place since William Brown took over as president and chief executive officer in November 2011. The three-pronged approach involves optimizing Harris’ portfolio and excelling in core business areas, such as tactical radio and government communications; integrating acquisitions and accelerating growth initiatives in health care, communications and energy; and emphasizing operational excellence by investing in employees as part of a new platform called Harris Business Excellence.

“We are investing in our future – increasing our research and development efforts and establishing advanced facilities to enhance manufacturing efficiencies and foster innovation,” Morris said. “This will also help us to attract top talent to drive our businesses even further.”

Harris’ strong commercial work takes some pressure off the public-sector sectors, and Morris said many solutions cross both sides of the company.

“The really impressive thing about all of our employees is that the next-generation technologies they are developing and deploying for government customers also have applications into the commercial world,” he said. “Being a part of that process and knowing that our employees are helping to make that happen is really something to be proud of.”