Wired For Success

Through unparalleled service to government agencies and groundbreaking joint ventures, Rodney Hunt has built RS Information Systems into a tech powerhouse

incorporation in 1992. An 8% drop on the top line for 2006 is attributed to migrating some $80 million in existing contracts (and a few hundred employees) to the EES joint venture. However, with a 49% ownership stake in that business, RSIS gained about $7.5 million in profit. Because of this phenomenal growth, the future prospects of the company, and its CEO’s penchant for mentoring other entrepreneurs, BLACK ENTERPRISE has named RS Information Systems its 2007 Industrial/Service Company of the Year.

The government services marketplace has been a very active and favorable business environment. It’s generally not subject to the peaks and valleys of commercial sectors, which are susceptible to the ebb and flow of corporate spending. In the commercial space, a contractor could gain 25% one year and none the next. A company properly positioned in the government arena, however, can expect 5% to 10% annual growth. The expansion and relative stability of businesses in this area has attracted a lot of private equity, especially black-owned government contractors.
hunt’s success in information technology is creating opportunities for other entrepreneurs.

RSIS consists of three divisions. Its Defense Programs unit is the largest, representing 39% of the company’s revenues. It handles all the business for such agencies as the Department of Defense. The Civilian Programs division (36% of revenues) oversees government agencies directed toward the populace, such as the Department of Transportation and the Department of Labor. The Science & Engineering division (25% of revenues) handles technical projects for such agencies as NASA.

Much of RSIS’ growth is attributable to defense contracts. “When I started, I think it was the smallest of the three, but now it’s the largest and we see it continuing to be that way,” says Kirk Herdman, senior vice president of Defense Programs. “Our growth numbers indicate that we expect it to go up 15% to 20% this year.”

Maintains John C. Allen, co-head of the defense and government services group for BB&T Capital Markets/Windsor Group, a Reston, Virginia-based investment banking firm, “They’ve played it right. They leveraged some set-aside opportunities and now have become more full and open, competing out there on the same playing field that everyone else is and continuing the success they had in their earlier days when they were competing for small-business set-aside opportunities. It shows you what can be accomplished.”

There’s an old adage: Entrepreneurs are born, not made. That maxim holds true in the case of Hunt. He started his first business–mowing lawns–at 14. A year later, the native of Fort Washington in Prince George’s County, Maryland, had dozens of kids working for his business, which he says generated substantial revenues. When he was 16, a major-league baseball team drafted him out of high school, offering him a five-figure signing bonus to pitch in its minor-league system. But at the time, an academic scholarship to Cornell University was also on the table, and it was his parents’ dream that young Hunt become the first member of the family to

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