Fast 50: Advanced Onion stakes growth on layers of expertise

Sure, Advanced Onion has a catchy name, but the small business has also been winning contracts and growing rapidly by delivering on customer needs.

Paul Temple knows Advanced Onion isn’t a company you’ll forget anytime soon. Pair the name with the tagline, “Layers of Technology,” and he said it’s a recipe for success.

“I recognize that it’s kind of a different and funky name but it also sticks in people’s heads as we market, so the idea of the different layers allows us to boast multi-faceted approaches to things we do,” said Temple, the president and chief executive officer of the company.

Advanced Onion, a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business, was established in 2006 after Temple spent 21 years serving in the military and about eight years in the private sector.

“I started it myself with my own funds and we focused on growing incrementally fairly slow within the identity and intelligence and identity management kind of realm with Department of Defense,” he said. “We primarily focused on growing program opportunities, you know, however small, until we could start going after kind of larger government contracts.”

The company’s ensuing growth allowed Temple and his staff to focus on three key areas, which included consulting, adding more employees and pursuing subcontracting or prime contracting roles, he said.

Advanced Onion offers a number of solutions to its customers, including identity management, database and software development, engineering, graphic and web design, training and distance learning.

“The culture has been that we want the right personalities in here and the right talent to be able to represent not only the company but build a rapport and credibility that we have across the board,” Temple said.

Advanced Onion’s 85 employees now include instructional design and industry experts, accomplished linguists and information technology specialists who all work closely with customers to provide a tailored experience.

This specialized expertise has helped Advanced Onion land the No. 12 spot on Washington Technology’s 2016 Fast 50, with a 96.47 percent compound annual growth rate over the last five years. This is Advanced Onion’s first year on the Fast 50 list.

The company’s major customers include the Defense Department, the U.S Army Intelligence & Security Command and the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, in addition to several state-level organizations.

Advanced Onion has been busy over the past year, particularly with its work surrounding the Office of Personnel Management data breach.

Under the $1.8 million project, Advanced Onion created a website that was launched in November to alert victims if their personal data was compromised and created a tool to search for the current addresses of the victims.

“We are actually the ones who established the website and are doing identity disambiguation to assure that the databases are created and monitored and that people who need to find out whether they were affected or not come to our website,” Temple said.

The company has also worked on security efforts within the Defense Department’s Insider Threat Program and the Defense Biometric Identification Data System to enhance security in military installations.

Looking forward, Advanced Onion is set to establish a new office in Sacramento, Calif., which will join offices in Minneapolis and Lorton, Va., as well as the company’s headquarters in Monterey, Calif.

Expansion is a key ingredient in the company’s plan for growth over the next year, Temple said.

“We’ve actually gone after several of the larger Government-wide Acquisition Contracts that are out right now or in the proposal phase,” he said. “We’ve already pressed send on, in a small business status, so that plan is to get several of those GWACs under our belt so that will allow us to go after a new task order and etcetera.”

Temple is also interested in widening the company’s partners, which include Northrop Grumman, Hewlett Packard and Science Applications International Corp.

“We also have identified key partners, that whether we lead as a small business or follow as a small business, that we are using our past performance to select the things that we feel we have a higher probability of winning and going after,” he said.