Three years ago, Russell Wright, chairman and CEO of Dimensions International (No. 24 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $186.2 million in sales) orchestrated the acquisition of SENTEL Corp., a fellow BE 100S firm, that was some 85% of DI’s size in one of the largest black business combinations in history. In May he led the sale of the majority of his company to publicly traded Honeywell International Inc. in a deal valued at $230 million.
As part of the deal, Wright, 39, along with business partner Darrell Crapps will retain the SENTEL assets that were acquired by the newly formed WC Holding. While SENTEL will be the primary operation for WC Holding, there are hints that the duo may expand into the restaurant and clothing businesses. SENTEL, an engineering and software company that ranked No. 73 on the 2004 BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $43 million in sales, had contracts with agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, and the Federal Aviation Administration. Its technology is used to guard military bases, government buildings, stadiums, subways, bridges, and tunnels.
With the assets of SENTEL, WC Holding is positioned to become a BE 100S firm in its own right. Honeywell is a $33 billion company that services customers worldwide with aerospace products and other control technologies. Dimensions provides logistics support for the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and other defense agencies located at military facilities throughout the world. That expertise will make Honeywell a stronger contender as it is currently competing for U.S. anti-terrorism contracts worth up to $500 million. Once the acquisition is in its final phase, Wright will retain an executive position and run day-to-day operations.
While Wright could not comment on the deal before it was finalized, he did allude to having a go in the public markets during BE’s CEO Roundtable in March 2007. “If I were to take DI public, I would clearly change the vice president, I’d change my CFO. I’d get a Wall Street CFO, because I need that savvy, that knowledge base to take us to the next level,” he said. “I even look at myself sometimes and say ‘Can I take DI to a billion dollars?’ It’s a good question. I’ve never done it before. I don’t know. Maybe I’m the person, maybe I’m not the person. I will say this much, I know I will quickly realize if I’m not the person and hire the person to take me there.” DI was formed in 1985 by Robert L. Wright, who handed the reins over to his son in 2002.