Dan Deans, executive vice president and chief growth officer at Axient, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz to discuss the company’s recent growth initiatives to drive value for its customers as well as the impact that the company’s culture will have on its strategic goals and the work they are doing in the greater community during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with Dan Deans below:
ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about Axient’s recent growth initiatives and how you’re driving value for your customers through contract awards, acquisitions and other aspects across the federal sector?
Dan Deans: “Axient, which is actually a rebrand of the four entities that we brought together on this platform, was chosen as the name for our organization because it essentially translates to the Greek word for value as well as the suffix for action. At Axient, we’re laser-focused on bringing value and action to our customers.
Bringing these successful companies together to form this new platform has been truly exciting because we’ve assembled a tremendous group of leaders, teams, and experts into one cohesive team in record time as far as integrations go.
We’ve also recruited several trusted and respected industry veterans who have depth and breadth of expertise across our customer base. They are working on some highly technical and advanced missions for our government customers across the board.
We went into the implementation process with the mindset that everyone had a role and purposefully did not try to find value in cutting personnel. In a complex situation and process where there can be a lot of personnel changes, we found roles for absolutely everyone.
In our growth department, we have been able to capitalize on building a team with depth and breadth to capture and propose more large, prime bids that provide even more large-scale solutions to our customers than we were before as four separate entities. We value each and every Axient employee, and each employee understands they are part of the team and growth trajectory here at Axient.
For our overall focus of growth, we organized the new enterprise into five distinct, customer-focused business segments that ensured focus on the customers we already had while providing the ability to target adjacent markets with similar customer sets and requirements. We also worked extremely hard to maintain our culture and ensure the processes put in place drove our growth efforts as we moved forward.
Axient is focused on maintaining the excellent relationships that we already had with existing customers as well as growing those relationships and identifying new customers that could benefit from the expanded set of capabilities we pulled together.
Our focus is on meeting the set of requirements for particular markets and then developing capabilities internally via research and development and continuing to grow by adding new companies via acquisition that fit within our culture and desired customer set.
We’re always looking for new capabilities, new locations, and customers. We have an expansion mindset, and acquiring new companies and finding new customers/locations to expand our base, and then integrating new teams into the platform is a significant part of our growth strategy.”
ExecutiveBiz: What are your strategic goals for the coming year? What do you hope to accomplish and how has your company culture helped drive Axient to achieve your goals?
Dan Deans: “Growth is at the top of the list for everyone at Axient. On paper, we’re looking to eclipse $600 million in annual revenue this year and maintain strong profitability based on managing our business well and satisfying our customers’ mission needs.
Our growth mindset includes the goal of continually diversifying our workforce, opening opportunities to the underrepresented, and helping new people become industry leaders.
Our leadership here, including my partner on the Growth Team Patience Samson at Axient has also put a lot of recent processes in place to be able to even more efficiently continue our integration as we achieve our goal to acquire more entities to continue our expansion and capabilities.
For the next three to five years, we have a lot coming down the pipeline, and we’re being really aggressive in our capture and acquisition goals. There’s a lot on our plate, and it’s a multipronged process.
We have detailed strategic goals that stretch out over the next five years to reach our goal of more than a billion dollars in revenue. We want Axient to have a very strong and diverse set of capabilities with even more diverse customers. I think our leadership team has done an outstanding job of laying out our vision and tactically driving our mission goals.
Axient also has a centralized growth team that I have the honor and privilege of leading; they are all tremendous and focused on identifying, qualifying, capturing, and proposing opportunities. Their work allows me the time to work more strategically rather than writing proposals or spending time in the weeds, like those in a smaller business.
In the government sector, there’s a typical win rate of about 30 percent right now. Even the best Hall of Fame hitters failed seven out of 10 times, right? For Axient to currently have a higher than 50 percent win rate showcases our success and frees our leadership to do their due diligence on our future acquisitions and consistent growth.
For my own goals, I want to be the first one into the office and the last one to leave. We are not leaving anyone behind, and I want to be a servant leader for my team and Axient. We want our company to have a family-like atmosphere, and as a leader, I want to be the ones serving our employees, not the other way around.”
ExecutiveBiz: An important part of a company having strong business ethics in the federal sector is about helping and giving back to the greater community. Can you speak to the various charities and work with other organizations that your company does to make a difference and how people can get involved?
Dan Deans: “At Axient, we’re certainly focused on serving and caring for others. A lot of companies allow their people or encourage them to give to their alma maters and then match their gifts. Our CEO Patrick Murphy has set the bar high, and we actually give directly to the departments of the universities to encourage growth in critical areas like STEM and to care for the underrepresented communities that I also mentioned earlier.
For instance, Axient has given the University of Texas at Austin a lot of funding over the last 10 years as a company to the expansion of their aerospace and engineering departments. The focus of the scholarships given has been to bring in more women and minority students to the aerospace industry.
Our work with their aerospace engineering department has made great strides in order to raise female enrollment from 11 percent back in 2011 to more than 30 percent now. We’re working with the University of Florida, Penn State, Syracuse University, and the University of Maryland in similar ways. We have been extremely generous in helping those schools recruit and improve their censuses and care for students.
We have an employee-run and employee-funded (matched dollar-for-dollar by Axient) 501(c)(3) that provides donations to non-profit organizations. And we also have an amazing group called ‘Axcelerators in Action’ that works hard in the communities in support of causes that are meaningful to our corporate family. Axient and our employees have been supporting non-profits with donations, company sponsorships, and volunteer activities since our inception
We’re headquartered in Huntsville, AL with locations across the U.S., like Colorado, New Mexico, California, and Florida. Our team is working in places like senior homes, underserved, and with veteran groups on a constant basis. Our employees are happily volunteering their time and donating as well.
I believe more than half, if not three-quarters of our company, has been involved in at least one activity with our Axcelerators in Action over the last year. Everyone is on board to serve others and care for the greater community.
More recently, we participated in a fundraising event for a group here in Arlington, VA that helps children in some of the more challenging schools for arts and provides them with the supplies they need for music or other activities.
We’re proud to encourage kids in the arts, as well as in STEM activities. We recently donated our time and resources to the Huntsville Inner City Learning Center as well as the New Hope Children’s Clinic.
It’s just really awesome that our company is continuing to give back whenever it can to support the community. Axient also belongs to a lot of different business organizations in customer sets that support the economic development foundations in the states I mentioned and others where we work.
At the end of the day, volunteering and participating in fundraisers and community service is a critical focus of ours, and we offer the opportunity for our employees to consider being a part of that. It’s extremely rewarding to continue to see how Axient gives back to the greater community and will continue to do so as we grow.”