When a successful black-owned company suddenly puts itself on the auction block, many assume trouble must have been brewing in the boardroom. But Gary Murray, founder and former CEO of Sylvest Management Systems Corp., No. 15 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with 107.5 million in revenues, insists that wasn’t the case. The Landover, Maryland, computer and network integration firm was sold for an undisclosed sum to Bethesda, Maryland’s Federal Data Corp., a systems integration firm. Federal Data Corp. is owned by The Carlyle Group, a Washington, D.C., private equity investment firm that primarily invests in buyouts of companies.
“This was a very deliberate and strategic move,” says Murray. His decision to sell was pegged to the federal government’s interest in shops offering product and service. While Sylvest, which had been growing at about 45% annually, was strong on product, the firm needed to strengthen its service capability. After thinking of purchasing an outside service company, Murray decided to put his own company up for sale. By April, he had bids from seven companies. Even though Carlyle was not the highest bidder, Murray says he felt “it offered the synergy to take Sylvest to a higher level.”