Avantus Federal has witnessed a lot of change in the past few years. The company, which was formally known as “E3,” closed its first M&A transaction with Sentinel in 2018. It would go on to acquire a number of other government technology providers in the data analytics and cybersecurity marketplace before rebranding itself as Avantus in 2020.
Avantus Federal’s strategic acquisitions have opened the door for the company to sell a wide portfolio of technology solutions and services across the government. Since these acquisitions and the subsequent rebranding, the company has experienced incredible growth – culminating in being named the Emerging Growth Company of the Year at this year’s Corporate Growth Awards.
To learn more about Avantus Federal and its multiple transformational acquisitions, we recently sat down with David West, the company’s Senior Vice President. During our conversation, we talked about what makes Avantus Federal’s growth strategy so successful, and what is responsible for its incredible, award-winning growth.
Corporate Growth Capital Style (CGCS): What is Avantus Federal? What does the company do, and what services does it offer? Which markets and industries does it serve?
David West: Avantus Federal is a mission-focused data, cyber, space, mission services, and solutions company. As a mid-market powerhouse with an intentional blend of elite talent, infrastructure, and speed, Avantus was formed by leaders who wanted to do things more efficiently than those in our market have ever done before. We focused on how we support and grow our talent while delivering differentiated support to our customers.
We primarily serve clients across intelligence, defense, space, national security, and civilian missions. We drive a range of mission outcomes, from supporting intelligence customers on some of the biggest data engineering, analytics, and cyber challenges, to helping special operators acquire elite mission skills and working alongside Civilian agency customers to harness the power of its incredible reservoir of data to save lives.
Our clients benefit from our unique blend of breadth and reach, resources, resiliency, and quick decision-making in a trusted environment. Our employees, being some of the best in the industry, benefit from a genuine culture and industry-leading investment in their careers from our Integrated Talent Management (ITM) platform.
CGCS: Formally known as “E3/ Sentinel,” Avantus Federal announced it was rebranding itself in October 2020, following a number of strategic acquisitions. What caused this rebranding and how has it been beneficial to the company’s goals? How did those strategic acquisitions change the company and its capabilities, and initiate the rebrand?
David West: The decision to unify under the Avantus brand in 2020 was the result of merging eight fast-moving businesses. The name “Avantus” – which signals both “advantage” and “vantage point” – reflects our hyper-focused, outcome-oriented business, where our employees are part of everything we do. The “us” is all about our team and supporting the United States’ toughest government missions.
The Avantus approach to acquisitions emphasizes a stoic approach to differentiation, cultural fit, and “3rd pipeline” growth potential. -David West
Our thesis around creating a unique and elite mid-market solutions platform required thoughtfully acquiring, integrating, and retaining the best businesses and talent. We intentionally waited to re-brand the company because we wanted our people to drive our core values and our brand to ensure we had a unified culture, that was fully invested in that unification. The rebrand took nearly a year to come together. We spent months debating what values mattered to our people and matched our vision. Once we agreed on the core five values, the name Avantus and other brand elements quickly came together. Our execution as a unified Avantus has been the true differentiator and is driving our rapid year-over-year organic growth.
CGCS: Avantus has acquired a lot of companies and gone through a lot of transitions and integrations. What lessons and best practices have you developed through these acquisitions?
David West: The Avantus approach to acquisitions emphasizes a stoic approach to differentiation, cultural fit, and “3rd pipeline” growth potential. As ACG members know, there is a lot of funding and capital in our market, and we have a fast-moving threat picture. However, while most market participants tend to chase trends or budget momentum, we focus on where we can drive a durable “edge” and resulting value creation.
We have done everything with purpose and determination in our M&A program. This program has been geared entirely toward a deep presence within the most attractive market areas and backed by an agile, but muscular, corporate backbone in terms of infrastructure, systems, and a BD platform build to scale.
Our success has been driven by incredible program managers and highly cleared technologies serving customers on the ground each day. -David West
We focus on integration, and this is a differentiator for us. Led by our Integration leader, Dixie Welch, we carefully execute a tailored people, process, and systems integration for every deal. We approach deals with a “Hippocratic Oath” approach of “doing no harm” to capture what drives each company’s special sauce.
However, we quickly drive to a single new business pipeline, single payroll, and a people-centric approach to improving employees’ skills and benefits. When teammates and new employees look at Avantus, they find a single, unified company, where employees are moving up in our business to tackle larger customer programs and missions.
CGCS: It seems Avantus has been successful in attracting talent in some of the largest market segments today, such as data, cyber, and space. What tools have driven that success?
David West: Our success has been driven by incredible program managers and highly cleared technologies serving customers on the ground each day. At a broader level, we have found a successful rhythm incorporating strong leadership, ITM and recruiting, technology, solution development, and great benefits and career growth for our people.
Led by our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Andy Maner, we said from the beginning that we must treat people differently than the off-based “filled seats” paradigm that had taken over our market. We are bending the retention curve to our advantage through sustained investment in professional development through a constant pursuit of compensation, benefits, and career development advantages.
We are ready to bid and execute the largest, “can’t fail” programs for our customers, and we continue to pursue the best like-minded talent and companies to join us on this journey. -David West
We also drive differentiation and elite talent retention via our Data and Technology Group (DTG), which is a flexible technology engine driving new business wins, organic growth, and delivery. Our DTG complements our core offerings by leveraging and creating new proprietary tech for applied customer use.
CGCS: What’s next for Avantus Federal? Is there anything exciting coming in the future that you’d like to share with our readers?
David West: On August 5, 2022, we announced the intention of QinetiQ US to acquire Avantus Federal, pending regulatory approvals. We are excited to join together with a team that shares our values and commitment to building an innovative mid-tier that redefines how our customers are best served in this market.
The next chapter for Avantus will be driven by our focus on talent and differentiation but will bring even more solutions to the combined client and mission sets across the QinetiQ US and Avantus portfolios. We are ready to bid and execute the largest, “can’t fail” programs for our customers, and we continue to pursue the best like-minded talent and companies to join us on this journey.