Culture, Strategy, and Infrastructure: John Hassoun, Former CEO of Vistronix, on Executing an Award-Winning Deal

Last month, the acquisition of Vistronix Intelligence and Technology Solutions by ASRC Federal was recognized as the $50M-$250M “Deal Of The Year at the ACG National Capital Corporate Growth Awards gala held in Northern Virginia. The deal was awarded for a number of reasons. According to John Hassoun, former CEO of Vistronix, it was a “win-win” for both companies, as it filled strategic gaps for ASRC Federal and also provided Vistronix with a platform to expand into a bigger portfolio of capabilities.

We recently had a chance to sit down with John to gain some perspectives on what made the acquisition of Vistronix by ASRC Federal an award-winning deal. Here’s what he had to say:

Corporate Growth Capital Style (CGCS): Can you tell us why the acquisition of Vistronix Intelligence and Technology Solution by ASRC Federal was recently recognized as an award-winning deal by ACG National Capital?

John Hassoun (JH): I believe that the acquisition of Vistronix by ASRC Federal was a win-win deal for both companies.  Not only was ASRC Federal able to get a significant footprint in high priority segments of the national security and intelligence market, but the acquisition provided the Vistronix operational team with a bigger and more mature platform to aggressively continue to expand and cross sell to a bigger portfolio of capabilities.

CGCS: What were some of the things that set the Vistronix deal apart from other acquisitions that took place last year?

JH: Vistronix built a unique middle weight platform addressing complex national security challenges in the collection, processing, transformation, and dissemination of big data into actionable intelligence.  ASRC and others had recognized that this is the growth segment of the federal market and had been looking for acquisition candidates.

What made this deal unique is timing.  I believe ASRC Federal did a better job than others in recognizing that Vistronix had put in place a very strong aggressive growth strategy and would be able to leverage the much larger ASRC Federal platform in ensuring the success of executing on these programs that were to be awarded in late 2016 and into 2017.

CGCS: Is there anything that made the Vistronix acquisition by ASRC Federal unique?

JH: Through Vistronix’s successful build of premium capabilities, access to Intelligence Community (IC) customers, and its ability to cross-sell, ASRC Federal had acquired a growth platform to pursue large and complex programs of national significance – mainly focused on intelligence and C4ISR Mission Systems and Enterprise Technology Solutions.  In fact, Vistronix had already bid a number of large programs that were awaiting award or about to be awarded soon.  ASRC Federal foresaw that success and will no be able to capitalize on it.

CGCS: In earlier coverage of this story, we talked about how Vistronix was able to fill strategic gaps for ASRC Federal. Can you talk about what those gaps were and how Vistronix was able to fill them?

JH: Vistronix’s strategy was to build a unique national security and technology company that focused on its ability to ingest large amounts of advanced structured and unstructured data and transform these big data into secure actionable intelligence. I believe this was, and continues to be, a big gap in the industry.  The entirety of our M&A and integration strategy was built around this strategic vision which identified a pipeline of these priority opportunities for a small number of customers of national significance spanning defense, Intel and federal civilian markets.

CGCS: Are there any best practices or lessons learned you can share from the deal?

JH: I believe the most critical element of any successful business is aligning your culture with your strategy.  Once you have your culture aligned, you can then focus on your strategy, identify growth opportunities, and surround yourself by the best operational people in the industry. With the right team in place you can build a support infrastructure around the team that empowers them to shine. Learn from your mistakes and focus on continuous improvement.

CGCS: Have you noticed any major trends in M&A activity this year? Where do you believe corporate growth is headed for the future? Are there any industries you expect to see more rapid M&A growth in than others?

JH: This continues to be a fun time for the industry.  Many of us are convinced that the next few years will see growth in the market.  Technology and IT will continue to dominate, whether you’re considering a new or upgraded major weapon system, collection system, logistics, or training systems.  There seems to be a middle market void that will drive additional mergers and acquisitions, and the rise of successful small companies into the mainstream.  The need still exists for these mid-size platforms, as they are more likely to be innovative and risk takers than the large strategic companies – and the customers continue to look for on technologies that will improve the mission and save you money over time.

Save the date! Next year’s Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference has been scheduled for March 8, 2018.

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