Ross Wilkers

COMPANY OUTLOOK

What's next for ASRC Federal after rebrand

Many times a change in logo and color scheme can represent a transformation and new path forward for any company and those in the government market are no exception.

In the case of ASRC Federal more recently, now was in some sense a natural point to do so considering the last rebrand took place 20 years ago. Both the company and the market it participates in are vastly different characteristics even if one reason behind the new logo is the same -- the fight for talent.

“We consider the fresh brand as really going to help us with recruiting new talent as well,” CEO Jennifer Felix told me recently.

Felix became CEO of ASRC Federal in April, nearly five months after she first joined the company as chief operating officer.

Then there are the Reston, Virginia-based government services firm’s group of current stakeholders to consider.

“In particular, I think focusing on our enduring commitment to our customers, our employees, our shareholders, and with the consolidation in the federal marketplace that has continued, is also a differentiator in a sense for us,” Felix said. “We’re not planning to go anywhere and just continue to evolve as an organization.”

ASRC Federal’s evolution is centered around honing its core work areas such as software development and mission engineering, which Felix said represent nearly 30 percent of the overall portfolio. The company has been at work creating what Felix called “communities of practice” to share ideas and best practices across business units, she said.

That also features in how ASRC Federal is eyeing more IT modernization contracts. However one sizes up that market, Felix indicated the current remote work environment amid the coronavirus pandemic shows there is still ample work to do with one key attribute.

“As we look out from our customer’s point-of-view, the need to be agile in all aspects of their business, that’s one of the key areas,” Felix told me.

“The time that it takes to convert systems to move to the cloud and convert legacy system into new technology, a lot of times you’re spanning across administrations, and there can be two steps back to take another step forward.”

How does ASRC Federal plan to expand in its core markets and into new areas also? Felix said acquisitions are not excluded outright, but the company’s push is primarily centered around organic growth.

ASRC Federal’s last major purchase was of Vistronix four years ago to gain more of a footprint in several aspects of IT modernization -- analytics, signal processing, cloud computing and large-scale data management.

Felix’s expectation for the near future is that any deal will be mostly smaller in size focused on areas to add more capabilities or new customer relationships.

“It’s certainly something we’ll continue to look at as we go forward, where it makes sense strategically, but it’s not how we expect on a broad level to grow,” Felix told me.

One factor tilted in ASRC Federal’s favor from Felix’s perspective is that the pace of procurements out of the government has not slowed down during the COVID-19 pandemic now in month number eight.

Over the summer, the company secured a large opportunity on its radar in the form of a $300 million case processing support contract with the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency that conducts background investigations for security clearances.

Felix said almost 550 people had to be onboarded, many already working remotely but still during a pandemic. The transition of those staffers and program completed one month early, she said.

“Recruiting in general and onboarding is always challenging in a virtual environment,” Felix said. “Seeing an office at least you have a sense for the company, so it’s something you have to adapt to.

“But having the ability to be on video and engage I think has really made a difference.”

ASRC Federal continues to evolve, managing both a remote and on-site (essential) workforce across customer sites during the pandemic and beyond.

One tool Felix offered as an example for continued employee engagement is training programs including those focused on leadership development to enable collaboration and communication across other parts of the company.

“With what’s happening right now, in some ways it could be better, because it’s forced the company to think about what does it mean to manage a remote workforce,” Felix said.

“We’ve been doing that, where managers might be on-site with employees a lot of the time, but collectively were managing a lot of remote teams.”

The push of work outside the traditional office and new delivery models gives Felix confidence that the federal contracting industry at-large and ASRC Federal can get a leg up in recruiting versus commercial firms that already had many flexibilities in place for employees.

Especially considering what commutes are like in the Washington, D.C. area that many of us have had a break from for eight months.

“I’m hoping it will draw people back into government for those individuals that may have left for those conveniences.”

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at rwilkers@washingtontechnology.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also find and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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