After graduating from Cornell, Hunt played in the minors for the Washington Black Sox while working as a systems engineer for IBM and Kenrob and Associates during the off-season. That is, until a torn rotator cuff ended his career at the age of 26. “Though I loved the game of baseball, I was always a student first,” Hunt says. “So as tough as it was to have my career end so early, I was prepared for and looking forward to a professional life after sports.
With his athletic career grounded, the 6-foot-7 Hunt continued to gain critical experience as a senior associate for Booz Allen Hamilton, a $3.7 billion global strategy and technology consulting firm, where he led the Technical and Engineering Systems Group in providing support to government and commercial clients. In 1990, Hunt became marketing director for Information System Networks Corp., a Bethesda, Maryland-based IT firm. It was there that Hunt learned of the SBA’s 8(a) program, which enabled minority businesses to gain set-aside contracts from government agencies. He also met W. Scott Amey, who would become the ‘S’ in RS Information Systems (the ‘R’ stands for Rodney).
The partners applied for the 8(a) designation. In September 1992, RS Information Systems was incorporated, with Hunt as majority shareholder through his ownership of 60% of the business.
It takes money to make money and, as with most startups, getting adequate funding was no small feat. Hunt and Amey put up $5,000 in cash and secured a $150,000 line of credit with First Union Bank, putting up both of their houses as collateral. They also brought in a minority in
vestor, Ron Trowbridge, who is currently the company’s executive vice president. In their first year of business, the company generated $327,000 in revenues.
AN OVERWHELMING LOSS
Only months after launching the business, Hunt suffered a devastating loss when his wife of three years was killed in a traffic accident, leaving then 32-year-old Hunt a widower with a 14-month-old toddler. “I just didn’t want to be another one of those guys who says, ‘Here mom and dad, you raise him while I go and chase my dream,’ he says. “I probably never even thought about the sacrifices I made. It was just something I had to do.”
Hunt split his energies between his son and the business, but Bradley always came first. “I was in a meeting one time and Bradley was maybe 3 or 4, and I got a call from an official at his school who said he had a temperature of 100.3. At 100, they call you and you have to go pick him up. And I was in the middle of a presentation and I didn’t think twice about it. I just excused myself and said I had a family emergency and said I had to go right then and there.”
While the business grew quickly, success didn’t come easily, and there were some missteps along the way. In 1994, RSIS took on a project that Hunt admits the fledgling company wasn’t ready