someone to show them the integrated technical solutions to their problems,” says Steward. “WWT evolved from that concept.”
In 1990, he started WWT by leveraging $250,000 in funds from his other companies, which he eventually shut down. (Steward, who owns 85% of the company, founded it with President and COO James Kavanaugh, who owns the remaining 15%.) The well-connected, gregarious entrepreneur used his corporate contacts to snare the company’s first contract to provide computer equipment and technical support to Southwestern Bell. In the beginning, they handled all their jobs with just four employees. “We always went above and beyond the call of duty for our clients and managed to find some of the best talent in the marketplace,” Steward reflects. “Most important, we truly walked the talk. We used technology to keep our operations efficient.”
WWT started to take off in 1993 when the company expanded its portfolio of problem-solving solutions to include the implementation of company-wide imaging and conversion services as well as telecommunications networks. The addition of these services has enabled WWT to snare lucrative government contracts, which currently include the Global Command & Control Systems at Hanscom Air Force Base and the U.S. Marine Corps System Command. In fact, WWT supplied integrated workstations for military units in Bosnia to monitor troop movements. Such government contracts make up 71% of gross revenues.
What has also kept WWT moving with all the speed of a runaway train–1,325% growth in sales since 1992 has been its strategic partnerships with such industry leaders as Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Netscape and Cisco Systems. These relationships have enabled it to provide a wide range of services. And judging by the recent activity, it doesn’t seem as if WWT will be putting on the brakes anytime soon.
Selected from a field of 25 bidders, it became one of three minority-owned firms to sign a $150 million contract with Lucent Technologies and Southwestern Bell to provide light assembly and material management of cable and components for its telecommunications network. Recently, WWT partnered with Waterloo, Ontario-based Open Text Corp. to offer Livelink Internet Solutions, a collaborative knowledge management system that enables organizations to provide secure Web-browser access to a company’s intranet. And the concern was chosen to be a member of the Oracle Applications Dealer Network, a nationwide group of companies that exclusively sells Oracle’s business information products to mid-size companies.
As a result, the company has grown to more than 175 employees and established satellite offices in Minneapolis, San Diego, Dallas, Kansas City, Missouri, Washington, D.C., and Louisville, Kentucky. The internal focus has been to increase margins-1997 net operating profits before taxes were roughly 5%. He has decreased administrative expenses by investing more than $1.6 million in the company’s operation, which includes the implementation of a state-of-the-art financial, accounting and project management software system. Steward states, “We have positioned ourselves to take advantage of the industrial revolution of the information age.”
FINDING GUSHERS ONE BOOTSTRAP AT A TIME
James Winters is a bootstrapper. Similar to the wild-catters of yore, he has scrimped