Where they are now | After contracting: Back to basics
Joseph Kampf parlays Anteon years into private equity fund leadership
- By David Hubler
- Mar 06, 2008
Joe Kampf has made his first acquisition since founding CoVant Management.
Joseph Kampf made a name for himself in the
federal contracting world when he took
charge of Anteon International Corp. in 1996
after the New York buyout fund Caxton
Iseman bought the company. He took Anteon
public in 2002 and four years later sold it to
General Dynamics Corp. for $2.2 billion.
Now Kampf has made his first acquisition
since founding CoVant Management last year
with several former Anteon executives. The
private equity firm announced March 5 that it
purchased A-T Solutions Inc. of
Fredericksburg, Va. Terms of the deal were
not disclosed. The company provides analytical
and training solutions to detect, identify
and defeat improvised explosive devices and
weapons of mass destruction.A TEAM APPROACH
After the sale of Anteon, Kampf and his six
closest management team colleagues immediately
began to look for their next challenge.
"We spent a couple of months as a team thinking
about what we wanted to do," Kampf said.
No one was prepared to retire, but could they
create another Anteon? "Our assessment of
the market was that it really wasn't going to be
possible over the foreseeable future to build
another Anteon," Kampf said.
He said he saw little chance of a new federal
contractor realizing the same rapid growth
that took Anteon from the $100 million revenue
mark to the $2 billion threshold in a
decade. The market now is tighter, more competitive
and the midtier is a precarious place
to be, he said.
"The market is definitely bifurcated and
certainly favors the bigger players from a couple
of perspectives," Kampf said. "One, they
have the resources and, two, the customers
are really bundling their opportunities into
larger and larger deals, and they're looking for
name brands to award them to
because it's safer."
Kampf and his team decided to
raise several million dollars for an
equity pool to invest and attack the
marketplace vertically, seeking to
purchase a company with specific
technology capabilities. In early
2007, they established a funding
deal with Caxton Iseman and created
CoVant as a private equity
fund. Then last April they started
to pursue their first acquisition.
The idea, Kampf said, was to
search for an outstanding company
in the $30 million to $200
million range and build it through
organic growth and acquisitions.
"Certain areas of the national
security waterfront excite us a lot,
particularly with respect to model
simulation and training," he said.
Other areas of interest include
secure identification, intelligence
database analysis and management,
and logistics modernization.
"If anybody stands a chance to
do a rollup in the federal services industry, it
would be Joe and his compatriots," said Paul
Serotkin, president of Minuteman Ventures
Kampf understands the financial, valuecreation
and operational areas of the business,
Serotkin said. "Certainly not all private equity
guys know that, and not all CEOs of companies
in that sector know that," he added.
Kampf has devoted nearly all of his time to
CoVant in the past year. "I'm spending as
much time doing this as I did running
Anteon, which was time and a half," he said.
But he added that he is having as much fun
as he did in the first six or seven years at
Taking Anteon public in 2002 was a new
and exciting experience that lasted only a few
years, he said. Once the company passed the
$1 billion revenue mark, "the challenge of creating
value changed," Kampf said. "It was a lot
harder to move the front of the ship to point
it in a different direction. That took a lot more
time."TIME TO THINK
Creating CoVant was a strategic challenge, he
said, because it was "putting the building
blocks together, finding the right [acquisition]
targets, thinking through the market strategy,
and that's exciting."
Having directed CoVant's first acquisition,
Kampf does not plan to step into a leadership
role. Running a small company has its special
rewards, he discovered.
"I had almost 10,000 employees when I left
Anteon, so to go from 10,000 to seven is a
dream job," he said. "I can go home at night
and have a little more time to think strategically
than I did at Anteon because at Anteon
you have so many issues to deal with ? business
issues and personnel issues and customer
issues and contract issues. Here, a lot
of that will be delegated to the management
teams that run the operating companies. It's a
lot more fun for me."
Kampf plans to continue his outside interests,
which include travel and serving on the
boards of Deltek Inc. and the Wolf Trap
Foundation for the Performing Arts.
Despite his busy schedule at CoVant, he has
more time to spend with his family. At
Anteon, Kampf said, "I used to steal a ski trip
here and there." But since leaving the company,
he and his wife have taken several extended
trips, including an around-the-world journey
with National Geographic last April.
"I'd have to say my life has become more
diversified even though I have been spending
most of my time on CoVant," he said.
The name, he said, is a combination of "co,"
meaning together, "V" for value and "ant"
from Anteon, or "together we can build value
like Anteon,'" he said, adding that CoVant
probably will never be as big. And that's fine
with him.David Hubler (email@example.com) is an
associate editor at Washington Technology.