R.J. Kolton wears many hats, helping to oversee two vibrant business entities — MPRI and L3 Services Group. Since 1987, MPRI has provided national security, defense, and law enforcement customers within the United States and abroad with professional services, specialized products, and integrated solutions for education, training, and operations. As for LSG: The divisions comprising LSG have emerged over a few short years as recognized industry leaders in the defense services sector. In the following Q&A Kolton debriefs on his work for MPRI and LSG, and what key trends will affect his customer base over the coming year.
Tell us about your background.
RJ Kolton: My background is equal parts professional soldier and business executive. I served in the U.S. Army in various command and staff positions. That work took me all over the world to areas like the Middle East, Gulf Region, South Asia, and East Africa. This included service in Saudi Arabia and Iraq during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. I also served as a senior strategist in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Then in 1998, after 22 years in the military, I retired as a lieutenant colonel and joined MPRI as director in business development. Over the next few years, I became the senior vice president for strategic business development.
In July 2000, L-3 Communications, a prime contractor in the defense sector, acquired MPRI. In 2005, then L-3 President Frank Lanza initiated a series of initiatives to realign L-3 service divisions. Frank asked General (US Army Retired) Carl Vuono, the 31st chief of staff of the U.S. Army, who had been president of MPRI since 1998, to lead the effort and to take on, in a dual role, management of both MPRI and the new multi-division L-3 Services Group. At that time, I assumed my additional duty as senior vice president for business development for L3 Services Group. In late 2006, the current L-3 president, Mike Strianese, continued the process begun by Frank, who passed away in 2006, and directed that we realign the recently acquired Titan Group service divisions into L-3 Service Group under the leadership of Gen Vuono.
What’s your current role at L3 Services Group (LSG) and MPRI?
RJ Kolton: When it comes to MPRI, I coordinate business planning and developmental activities in the United States and overseas; MPRI’s annual revenue now stands at approximately $1.1 billion. As for L3 Services Group, I currently coordinate business development planning and operations of six LSG service divisions; LSG’s current annual revenue is approximately $4.1 billion.
What are your company’s competencies and offerings?
RJ Kolton: Since 1987, MPRI has provided national security, defense, and law enforcement customers within the US and abroad with professional services, specialized products, and integrated solutions for education, training, and operations. As for LSG: The divisions comprising LSG have emerged over a few short years as recognized industry leaders in the defense services sector. The divisions offer a broad spectrum of products, services, and solutions within the public and private sectors, both in US and overseas. Our offerings include education and training; information technology; intelligence support; systems design, development, and integration; global and homeland security solutions; and institutional capacity building and support
Who are some of your clients?
RJ Kolton: LSG’s major customers include all of the military services and defense department, and intelligence community. We also have major contracts with the Department of Justice, State Department, Centers for Disease Control, NASA, FAA, and the Coast Guard. We also have several international and commercial contracts. Within MPRI, our major customers include Army, DOS, DOJ, CDC, and various law enforcement agencies. We also have several international clients.
What are some hot trends you’re tracking that will affect your customers and your revenue?
RJ Kolton: LSG and MPRI both support U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and in prosecuting the Global War on Terror. As we look to the future, we are posturing our divisions to respond to changes in US policies and strategies that will probably occur as a result of changes in presidential administrations and within Congress. Such changes may impact on the mix of US forces deployed abroad, the manner in which the United States manages refit and recapitalization, and the manner in which the government allocates funds to achieve various government national security priorities. Our mix of companies possesses unique competencies that support the United States and foreign clients in building institutional capacity to contend with security and non-security challenges of the 21st century. This includes the struggles of nations involved in or emerging from conflict and seeking to modernize.
Given the diversity of our products services, we are acutely aware of the financial stresses that the USG and state and local governments will encounter over the coming years; the impact of high energy prices; and likely fallout from global environmental change. These and other dynamics will impact on the array of products and services that we must develop and market. We are also seeking to stay abreast of technological change, seeking ways to harness advances to provide our customers better value. This is a continuous process and calls for organizations and senior managers with the acumen and temperament to recognize and respond to changing market place dynamics.
What is your biggest challenge today?
RJ Kolton: Our business organization has grown dramatically over the past five years. This growth has led to significant expansion of our work force and dispersion of our employees throughout the United States and around the world. As we tackle the demands of this business, we must ensure that we provide our customers quality service while adhering to the highest standards of ethics, integrity and conformity with the letter and spirit of US law. We must also ensure we take care of our employees. These fundamentals are the foundation for conducting business development and sustaining desired annual growth. Achieving success in these matters requires competent leaders and managers at every level, who possess uncompromising standards of integrity, and who are committed to achieving excellence in all that they do.
Given these conditions, all leaders of our organizations must display vision, imagination, and innovation in responding to changing customer needs and changes in the geo-strategic environment to develop and deliver the best possible product and service solutions
Where do you see the company two years from now?
RJ Kolton: L3 Services Group is well positioned to continue its growth beyond its current $4.1B in annual sales. We are optimistic about our ability to maintain excellent internal growth consistent with L3 Communications annual targets and to also grow through carefully targeted acquisitions of companies. We are also focusing on continuous improvement of business development processes and operations. We seek to sustain high win rates in recompetes, competition for new work, and in performance on Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract task/delivery orders.
We are committed to achieving success as one of the top professional services companies supporting the uniformed services, DOD, other government agencies, and international customers. We are also committed to building on our core competencies to diversify our offerings to other market segments and associated customers. We will continue to increase the percentage of our work that focuses on providing customers integrated solutions to their challenges. And we will continue to expand our offerings in CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS (CONOPS)-based integrated security solutions to US and foreign customers. We aim to accomplish all of these goals while sustaining our commitment to ethics, integrity, and in conformance with the letter and spirit of U.S. law.
Interview with R.J. Kolton was conducted by JD Kathuria
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