Markon uses good name to kick start Fast 50 growth

Markon Solutions takes its good name and strong business relationships to build a growing intelligence business.

Sometimes you don’t want a good name to go away. That’s what happened with Markon Solutions, a small business that specializes in project management and business improvement.

The company was founded in 2007 by Matt Dean, its president, and has since seen steady growth. It had 2012 revenue of $17 million and a five-year compound annual growth rate of 57.3 percent, securing it the No. 39 spot on Washington Technology’s 2013 Fast 50 list.

Dean and some of his colleagues started the company when their employer MKI Systems was being acquired by L-3 Communications. That’s when the team decided to spin off its own company, he said.

MKI Systems was known as Markon back in the early 1980s, but when the founders didn’t re-register the name with the state of Virginia, “a disgruntled employee ended up registering the name Markon and threatened to sue if the company continued to use it,” Dean said.

So the company became MKI Systems, and the Markon name went unused for a couple of decades. In 2007, MKI Systems’ owners suggested that Dean call his spin-off Markon, for old time’s sake. Dean said, “Why not?”

Thanks to the relationships he had built at MKI Systems, Dean was able to hit the ground running when he began Markon Solutions, he said.

One of the company’s key contracts is with the intelligence community, which hired Markon Solutions to perform facilities-based project management.

“We are right now running the project management office for the intelligence community campus in Bethesda,” he said.

The government is retrofitting the buildings on the 40-acre campus to meet future requirements, Dean said. “They’ve asked us to oversee the entire planning and the design and construction of some of the general contractors that are coming in and out of that compound,” he said.

The company’s goal is fairly straightforward. “Our strategy has continued to be to set a foundation and continue to grow as a company,” Dean said. “We do not have a strategy of getting to a certain size and then selling the company.”

Growth is tied into Markon Solutions’ vision to provide a path to success for employees and clients while maintaining its small-business culture, he added.

Dean takes great pride in that culture, which is shaped by the same principle that led him to create the company.

“One of the things that got me motivated to start my own company is that I really wanted the ability to design my own career,” he said. “I didn’t want other people to limit my success. That’s how we’ve built our culture. Within Markon, everybody has the opportunity to be a leader; they have the opportunity to do different things.”

One of Markon Solutions’ processes shows that idea in action: The company doesn’t lay off its employees after a contract ends. Instead, managers look for other projects that need support and transfer employees to them.

That approach has made Markon Solutions an attractive place to work and contributed to the company’s low employee turnover rate.

Now, with 105 employees and counting, the company looks forward to what the future will bring as the Markon name continues to thrive.