Last month, Amr ElSawy, CEO of Noblis, joined ACG National Capital as a special guest speaker for the chapter’s July Monthly Meeting, where he discussed Noblis’ journey through the government contracting space, and pulled back the curtain on the company’s recent acquisition of McKean Defense.
The meeting’s moderator, TD Bank’s Chad Dally, opened the meeting by giving a brief background on Mr. ElSawy. ElSawy has been CEO of Noblis since October of 2017, and is responsible for the general management and strategic direction of the company’s overall scientific, technical, financial, and administrative activities.
ElSawy has extensive experience leading organizations in developing innovative solutions to some of the most complex challenges facing public sector employees and enterprises in the following domains: national security, transportation, health, and the environment.
His background also includes research and development (R&D), complex engineering of information and telephone communication systems, modeling and simulation, enterprise transformation using cloud and high-performance computing, and program management acquisition of large scale systems.
Prior to joining Noblis, ElSawy was a Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Center for Advanced Aviation System Development (CAASD) for the MITRE Corporation. ElSawy served for seven years as the Director of the Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) for the FAA.
After introductions were made, ElSawy dived right into Noblis’ background. He described Noblis as a professional services company focused on scientific and technical activities in support of the federal government. Noblis has a portfolio that spans the lifecycle from early-stage R&D all the way through to implementation. ElSawy explained that Noblis works with the federal government according to “mission areas,” which include federal civil intelligence and law enforcement, Homeland Security, and defense.
ElSawy then gave a brief history of the company. When Noblis was established in 1996, it began with a portfolio that was “99 percent sole-source contracts.” Fast-forward to today, Noblis’ portfolio is now “99 percent full and open work.” He went on to proudly share that as of today, Noblis has close to 2,000 employees and $400+ million in revenue, attributing the company’s expansion to both organic and acquisitive growth.
Over the course of Noblis’ history, the company has gone through several acquisitions of different sizes. ElSawy explained that the acquisitions began in the healthcare, defense, and civil spaces. In reference to those early acquisitions, ElSawy said, “That really launched our work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, with Health and Human Services, and really got us involved in in the health care modernization activities in a very serious way.”
Noblis then moved to acquisitions in the intelligence space, focusing on command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Later acquisitions then gave Noblis cybersecurity credential that it extended and used in its law enforcement and Department of Justice work.
“We pride ourselves on having very, very close and tight knit relationships without customers. So we wanted a company that had those kinds of relationships.” -Amr ElSawy
ElSawy then segued into a discussion of Noblis’ most recent acquisitions: McKean Defense, and its subsidiaries, Cabrillo Technologies and Mikros Systems. He explained that Noblis’ “guiding North star” throughout the process was its commitment to being a scientific and technical organization that provides the government with “the capabilities that they need on large and extensive programs.”
ElSawy then reviewed the process of the acquisition. Noblis, with the assistance of Wolf Den Associates, looked at over 200 companies for potential acquisitions. “And you can’t go through that process without first really thinking through what the selection criteria are,” said ElSawy. “What is it that you’re looking for and why?”
After establishing the selection criteria, the team then included which sectors they wanted to be in. “For us, defense was the major focus,” said ElSawy. “Second was the mission, making sure that we were in a place where the mission requirements matched the skill sets and the capabilities and the competencies that the company had.”
The next criteria pertained to the work mix and the nature of the work that the company had in its portfolio. ElSawy explained, “For that, we looked at the details of the statements of work that they were doing. But we also tried to make sure that we are extending and expanding the work that we’re doing in our life cycle of work.”
“We wanted to make sure that as we work together, we always focus on making sure that the company is very tightly integrated.” -Amr ElSawy
Another criteria they examined was the nature of the relationships the company had with its customers. “We pride ourselves on having very, very close and tight knit relationships with our customers,” said ElSawy. “So we wanted a company that had those kinds of relationships.”
The last criteria that ElSawy discussed was the culture of the company. “We want to make sure that as we work together, we always focus on making sure that the company is very tightly integrated,” said ElSawy.
The next step in the process was due diligence. ElSawy explained that Noblis selected specific areas where the team performed deep dives that were critical in terms of the structure of the purchasing agreement, and identifying risks and indemnifications, so that they could plan for the integration process in a thoughtful way.
After due diligence was completed, Noblis’ internal auditors then helped the integration team to begin the integration process.
Noblis officially closed the deal on April 30, 2021. ElSawy explained, “We’re on our third launch month of an integration. As you can imagine it’s a million things. But our approaches have been to use an agile process with weekly stand-up meetings…across the company, with the McKean team and their counterparts. Our strategy is really not to do applications integration, if you will, in terms of the back office systems… But to move them onto our systems.”
To read ACG National Capital’s interview with Amr ElSawy, click HERE.