URS' purchase of Apptis proving to be a winner

Pipeline of addressable IT opportunities has increased significantly, executive says

When URS Corp. announced in April 2011 that it was acquiring IT and communications company Apptis Holdings Inc., URS Federal Services President Randall Wotring said Apptis would complement URS’ engineering, construction and technical services and fill a needed gap in its service offerings.

Almost six months into the merger, Wotring says: “Apptis now allows us to address a $40 billion IT market that heretofore we were not able to address. In that regard, together we are able to participate in a lot more complex projects and our pipeline of addressable IT opportunities has increased significantly.”

Wotring told Washington Technology that the company’s strategy for the federal marketplace has been “to build a business to really serve key federal agencies across the full spectrum of high-end services.”

“We had engineering capabilities which had inherently IT capabilities, but we really weren’t able to address a lot of the large, more complex IT [services],” he explained.

He said URS was seeking to diversify into areas of the government that had more secure funding and higher margins and where it could overcome some barriers to entry. They included cyber defense, cloud computing and contracts requiring high-security clearances.

The merger provided URS with a stronger value proposition for customers and core capabilities in those critical segments, specifically cyber defense and cloud computing, he added.

As a merged entity, URS-Apptis could address the growing need for critical IT services and also participate in larger, more complex IT projects that would expand its customer base.

URS-Apptis in September was one of four companies to obtain an Authority to Operate for its FedCloud.com service portal, powered by its partner Amazon Web Services, and provide Infrastructure-as-a-Service to government clients.

That GSA contracting vehicle is designed to be used by government agencies to acquire cloud computing infrastructure, explained Tim May, senior vice president of business development at URS-Apptis.

“We’ve seen [some] interest in it,” but it’s too soon to expect concrete results, May said. “We do see task orders that will be issued against the contracting vehicle so we’re anticipating bidding on those,” he added.

URS began assessing Apptis as a possible acquisition in mid-2010, Wotring said. The deal began to come together in early 2011, was completed in June and is now the cornerstone of a new information solutions group within the URS Federal Services division based in Germantown, Md.

“We really like the culture of this organization,” Wotring said. “Our values align, our management philosophies align. They’re very service-oriented cultures with a keen focus on really delivering technical excellence to our clients. That’s the key issue for us,” he added.

The acquisition also “gave us a bigger presence in northern Virginia, where we have a customer base that we’re trying to attract. From a synergy standpoint, it’s been very positive,” Wotring said.

The deal most likely will not be the last for URS as the San Francisco company pursues its strategy of expanding its capabilities and penetrating the market with new customers and new programs.

“URS’ compound annual growth over the past 10 years has exceeded 30 percent and a lot of that has been organic growth,” Wotring said. “Certainly acquisitions have played a part in that.”

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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