Computer Equity Stretches Wings With WACS Contract

Computer Equity Stretches Wings With WACS Contract

By Bob Starzynski
Staff Writer

Three months after its triumph of snaring one of three competing roles on a $2.6 billion General Services Administration contract, Computer Equity Corp. is setting lofty goals for itself.

The Chantilly, Va.-based telecommunications information technology company will more than triple its revenue, double its staff and may go public by year's end, said John Ballenger, president and chairman of the company.

Key to his plans for stardom is the GSA's Wiring and Cable Services contract, a three-year effort that will make telecommunications products and services available to all government agencies. If there is significant interest from the agencies, the government can exercise options to extend the contract another two years. Other winners of the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract are GTE Corp. of Stamford, Conn., and Engineering and Professional Services Inc. of Tinton Falls, N.J.

Although some IDIQ contracts don't meet sales expectations, Computer Equity officials are not worried about the potential of this contract. "People have been asking who we are" and this contract will answer that question, said Ballenger.

Work on the WACS contract is being conducted by Government Telecommunications Inc., an operating division of Computer Equity Corp., a shell company Ballenger started 12 years ago. Ballenger is the majority owner of both companies.

A primary factor in landing the WACS contract, according to Ballenger, was the company's subcontractor network of large telecom players, including Bell Atlantic Corp. in New York, US West Corp. in Englewood, Colo., and SBC Communications Corp. in San Antonio. Neither GTE nor EPSI, the other prime contractors, has teamed with any regional Bell operating companies.

Ballenger would not give any financial information on GTI or Computer Equity. However, he did say that the WACS contract would at least triple Computer Equity's revenue this year. And, he said, its staff of 100 employees will more than double by the end of the year.

The WACS contract offers government agencies a cradle-to-grave list of more than 3,000 telecommunications goods and services. An agency can buy a new telephone system, rewire offices or train employees on using a new local area network. Plus, with this contract, agencies can order directly without having to go through GSA.

The Dec. 5 contract award is too fresh for an accurate reading of how the winners will fare. Over the past three months, the companies have been ramping up sales and marketing efforts, training technical staff and finalizing contractual details with subcontractors.

However, Ballenger expects the money to start rolling in over the next 30 to 60 days. In that time alone, he anticipates $10 million to $15 million in contract orders to come through GTI. From there, orders should continue to rise, he said.

Previously, Ballenger started two other successful companies, Computer Data Systems Inc., a Rockville, Md., systems integrator sold last year to Affiliated Computer Services of Dallas for $370 million, and C3, an early government integrator that is now part of Telos Corp. in Ashburn, Va. After his work with those two companies, Ballenger decided to focus more exclusively on telecommunications contracts.

GTI has snared many smaller government contracts - a $45 million contract with the Social Security Administration. It also supplied the U.S. Postal Service with 5,000 phone systems in the past five years.

"I have no guess as to how much the agencies will spend for this contract," said Joseph Romanelli, program manager of the WACS program for GSA. "But most of these [telecommunications] contracts have exceeded expectations. We have great hopes for WACS."

If such expectations are met for GTI and Computer Equity, Ballenger intends to take the company public by December if the market timing is right.

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