Ron Morgan is co-founder of MorganFranklin, where he leads segments of the firm’s financial management and performance improvement practice and holds close to 20 years of public accounting and industry experience.
Morgan’s practice is now the firm’s principal focus after it recently sold assets from its national security solutions business unit to SRA International.
Formerly chief financial officer at MorganFranklin, Morgan is now responsible for areas including business development, practice management, client service and personnel development.
He recently sat down with ExecutiveBiz to discuss the shift in MorganFranklin’s business focus, why the company sought out SRA as a deal partner and some motivating factors to divest.
ExecutiveBiz: Now that you’re shifting your focus to areas including financial management and business consulting, what new opportunities do you see in the marketplace? And how will these opportunities enable you to better serve core customers?
Ron Morgan: The most important thing is the focus. With the new focus, we’re now able to commit to growth in core areas that are well aligned such as financial management, performance improvement, and technology solutions.
It’s strategic for us because as we stepped back to assess our business, what we really saw in our client base and the organizations we support was a continuous push to improve performance, increase efficiencies, and generally just do more with less. We also see a lot of demand for our capabilities in these areas and I don’t anticipate this changing.
We have a global customer base. Our headquarters is in Tysons Corner, Va., and we have a subsidiary in London. From these locations we’ve been supporting customers around the globe and across the country for many years. People are often surprised that we have such a global business with what I consider serious roots in the Washington market. What we see is a really strong opportunity for our firm to leverage what we have become very good at—which is in those three core areas—and then continue to expand around those core competencies.
From a firm standpoint, we’ve grown up over the years having two distinct business units. It has been great, on one hand, because it gave us scale and put a lot of resources at our disposal. But now that we’ve reached the point where we want to divert all of those resources and all of that focus into these core areas, we think it’s going to bring great opportunity for our customers and employees. There really are no more competing priorities.
We will be in a better position putting every ounce of focus of the business entities into these core areas, which we believe will be evident in the quality of service to our customers, employees, talent level, growth, and opportunities for everybody in this area. It’s certainly a big deal and very strategic for us to be able to refocus our strategy.
ExecutiveBiz: Many GovCon firms are expanding internationally because of budget constraints and possible sequestration. What goals do you have for your international expansion, considering you already have an office in London?
Morgan: There’s one thing I really want to emphasize here. There has been some confusion that this recent divestiture was a sale of MorganFranklin—and it’s not. This was simply a divestiture of certain national security government assets, including C4ISR, intelligence analysis, and operations and maintenance support services.
So while a big part of our government contracting business did go along with the sale of our National Security Solutions business unit, the core of MorganFranklin and all its infrastructure and business still remains. Within the business that will continue on is a very vibrant and robust government contracting business in professional services and consulting.
We’re currently not planning to expand the government business outside of the U.S. The component that is serving global organizations is really our commercial business, which mostly serves large multinational corporations.
ExecutiveBiz: How did the deal come together? What went into making this decision to divest and what were the factors telling you that this was the right move?
Morgan: I think the core thing about this was our strong advisory board, which is full of very capable folks who felt we needed to get focused as a business and really hone in on the areas where we can be world-class. We have also been going through a thorough strategic planning program that has forced us to make some important decisions about the future of our business. This was one of those decisions.
We felt this was a unique opportunity for us to really begin to focus in the areas that we’ve mentioned: the financial management, performance improvement and technology arena. A lot of factors come into play, such as your ability to compete, your culture, and your standing in the market. All of those things came together to ultimately bring us to the conclusion that this was the right time and the right focus for our business.
ExecutiveBiz: In the official release, MorganFranklin was quoted as saying SRA was a great partner. What makes them such a great partner? What made the company the right fit specifically?
Morgan: One of the most important things to us was making sure that there was a good cultural fit, a place where our skilled employees would not only be treated well, but also have great opportunities to advance their careers.
What we saw in SRA was all those things. This business unit worked well for SRA’s strategic objectives, and we gave them a lot of great employees that are going to fit right in and, I think, do very well within a much larger organization with great opportunities for them to pursue. SRA is always ranked as one of the best firms to work for in their industry, and that was a very important component for us in this decision.
ExecutiveBiz: As a founder of MorganFranklin, what are you excited about moving forward?
Morgan: The biggest thing that the other founders, the leadership team, the employees, and I have in common is excitement around this focus and our commitment to growth. We feel like we have such a great opportunity in these spaces to be one of the premier organizations in the country for financial management, performance improvement, and technology work.
This is the first time in our 15-year history that we have been able to truly laser in and focus, and do it in a strategic way where the message of who we are is clear. I think that message is really resonating with the employees at MorganFranklin.
The folks that I’ve talked to really get it. They’re excited. They’re energized by this change. You feed off of your employees if you feel them excited, and right now I like the energy a lot. It gives you a lot of reassurance and a lot of confidence to keep pushing forward. I’m really excited about the ability to focus, bear down and work strategically in these areas.
ExecutiveBiz: Is there anything else you wanted to touch on as far as the divestiture or your company?
Morgan: We are committed to our clients, employees, partners and are excited for the future. I want to thank all the people in the marketplace who have shared their excitement for our future.
Also, MorganFranklin is a great place to work. We were recently named to Consulting Magazine’s “Best Firms to Work For” list, ranking 12th in the country on the 2012 list in the large business category. This is a testament to our success and growth because in 2008, we were on the “Best Small Firms to Work For” list as well.