New facility, market to be under Merlin's spell

Merlin International Inc. plans to open a new facility for national security work with the federal government in February, as well as delve deeper into state and local government business, the company's president and chief executive officer said.

Because of anticipated growth in national security, Merlin has added a new line of business to its portfolio, and has about 10 employees working in a temporary space in Columbia, Md., David Phelps told Washington Technology. Those employees are overseeing the installation of a sensitive, compartmentalized information facility where company officials and government clients can discuss and perform highly classified work in national security, he said.

"We think that the offerings we have around technology and the services we provide are going to be very well received in the intelligence community," especially with the government's focus on information sharing, Phelps said.

The company had been evaluating the national security area for a year before setting up its preliminary facilities in Maryland three months ago, Phelps said.

Merlin has negotiated its participation on three different teams chasing contracts in this area, and is already on several others for contracts that the government will issue for bid in fourth quarter 2006, Phelps said.

In the new facility, Merlin expects to be doing work for the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies, he said. The company is chasing some national security-related contracts that would start in the next fiscal year, he said, but declined to provide details about them.

"It was a calculated risk that looks like it's going to have a significant payoff," he said.

Merlin expects to move in to its new Maryland facility by next February, and anticipates about 100 employees in the new group by the end of 2007, Phelps said.

Besides its jump into national security-related work, Merlin also is going after new state and local government opportunities in portals, content management and service-oriented architecture.

"We've been mapping this market out since last year, and we're going to go very selectively to new areas where we have technical skills and qualifications, and where we think we can have a very high win rate," Phelps said. State and local government business accounts for less that one percent of Merlin's business, he said.

Merlin expects some first-responder-related opportunities in this arena, which will be a natural tie-in for the company based on its contract work in information sharing for the Homeland Security Department, Phelps said.

Merlin International of Greenwood Village, Colo., delivers IT solutions to the public and commercial sectors. The company, which has about 150 employees and 2005 revenue of $133.5 million, ranks No. 1 on Washington Technology's 2005 Fast 50 list. Washington Technology will release the new list Oct. 16.

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