Recently, GovCon Executive had the chance to speak with Doug Norton, VP of Business Development at CALIBRE. Norton touched on his goals for the firm, some challenges he sees in the market as well as his advice for other business development professionals.
GovCon Executive: Tell me a bit about your background
Doug Norton: I spent 32 years in the federal government; 14 years in the Air Force and 18 at NASA. In the Air Force, my background was primarily in the Intelligence Community. In NASA, I did a couple things. I was involved in the international program and at the end I was primarily associated with a program office related to earth science and climate change.
GCE: What challenges are you facing currently in business development?
Norton: The business development world for the federal government is changing. It’s going through adjustments based upon the overall economy that the country is contending with. The targets you are looking at in the federal government are adjusting. We’re beginning to see new areas of focus: healthcare and cybersecurity. Those are areas that are beginning to develop that were a little bit quieter in the past. We’re beginning to see agencies that have higher visibility these days that were not quite so visible as potential customers in the past. Our focus at CALIBRE has been the Department of Defense for the past 21 years and that continues to be a vigorous market with a lot of opportunities for us. We find that we are able to migrate some of the capabilities and experiences we’ve had inside DoD to other agencies in the civilian agency sector and to a certain degree a little outside the federal government. We’re still primarily focused on the federal side.
GCE: What are some goals you have for CALIBRE for this year?
Norton: We’d like to continue our growth. CALIBRE has been very good for the past 21 years, consistently demonstrating top level growth and we expect to be able to do that again this year. We have an average annual growth for the past 21 years of about 18 percent and we’d like to continue to keep that going as a market leader. We would like to begin to move to a broader customer set, so we are looking at some additional agencies where we might be able to transfer some of the experiences we’ve had with our DoD customers into those areas as well. So I think we are going to look at maintaining the rate of growth that we’ve seen in the past and broadening the customer set so that we can take our skills out to contribute to other programs.
GCE: Do you have any advice for other business development professionals?
Norton: Well I think that the best advice I would give is that it is important to be flexible. This is a world of change and we’re watching that every day in most of the agencies that we deal with, so I think flexibility is important. As you begin to take your solutions sets into the customer, you need to recognize that every customer is different. You need to be able to adapt the solution set so it meets the customer’s needs first. And that’s actually been the motto that CALIBRE has followed for the last 21 years. Our motto is ‘Our Success Follows Yours’ and we’ve prided ourselves on being able to adapt our solution sets to the requirements of each individual customer.
GCE: What’s your personal hobby?
Norton: Apart from my family, I’m an instrument rated private pilot, so I do that a little bit. Also, I’m an avid photographer so I like to go hiking in the woods, take pictures, then put them on the walls so I can go back and visit them again.
GCE: Do you do any semi-pro work or is it strictly amateur?
Norton: It’s strictly amateur, but I have visions when I retire that it might be a good area to go into. Who knows, there may be another career there.