On the circuit

Dave Karlgaard's on a lucky streak, golf-wise. He got his first eagle in early March at the Orlando Grand Hyatt, after the ball popped over a berm, a hill and a sand trap and into the par-4, 275-yard hole. A couple of weeks later, after six rounds of golf at the Robert Trent Jones course on Hawaii, he notched his best score ever: 87.

"I'm not a very good golfer, but I like to brag about breaking 100," the PEC Solutions' chairman and chief executive officer said.

Karlgaard started playing eight years ago, at the prompting of his wife, who told him he was working too hard.

"But now, I'm so hooked on golf, she wishes she hadn't suggested it," he said.

He has had some luck in the executive suite, too. PEC, the company he founded 20 years ago, now has 2,000 employees, fiscal 2004 revenues of $203 million and $76 million in profit. Karlgaard is looking to improve those numbers this year mainly through high-end systems engineering for federal civilian customers.

PEC provides biometric tools to the Transportation Security Administration to authenticate security workers at airports nationwide. "You know those people who check up on you? We check up on them," Karlgaard said. PEC also just received a substantial order to develop information technology systems for the U.S. court system.

Karlgaard also stays busy as chairman of a $50 million capital campaign for the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, where he met his wife while they were students there.

The Professional Golfers' Association wasn't impressed with his eagle, which is a score of 2 under par on a single hole, so he's making his own trophy to display in his basement, engraved "Davey 'The Eagle' Karlgaard."

Mike Solley, president of NCI Information Systems, flies himself to many of the company's 60 locations in his five-passenger Citation jet. His aviation skills allow him to live in Destin, Fla., and work during the week in Washington, D.C.

Learning to fly was an economic move at first, Solley said. In the mid-1990s, he worked at Nichols Research in Huntsville, Ala., and frequently had to fly to an Army Corps of Engineers facility in Vicksburg, Miss.

Commercial airlines rarely flew to Vicksburg, and chartered planes are expensive. So he earned his wings, starting with a twin-engine prop plane, graduating to a turboprop, and finally getting a jet a year and a half ago. Now, he can hop around at will to offices in Florida, Ohio, Nevada, Tennessee and New Mexico.

Solley was president of Nichols' federal unit, selling professional services primarily to the Army. He retired briefly when Computer Sciences Corp. bought Nichols in 1999, but he wasn't ready to stop working. He moved to Dayton, Ohio, to lead MTC Technologies, selling services to the Air Force and taking the business public in 2002. NCI CEO Charles Narang recruited him in October 2003. Now, he combines his former Army and Air Force customers with clients from the intelligence community.

Besides hiring Solley, NCI's leaders are expanding in other ways. Solley tells us the company had only an internal board until six months ago when officials added former Fed Data CEO Dan Young and former Dyncorp CEO Paul Lombardi. Solley sometimes jokes that NCI's location in Plaza America next to the old Dyncorp building is "just to make Paul feel at home."

Solley's often flying. If he's not in the air, he could be on a racetrack. He competes in six races a year in his Ferrari 360.

Bisnow publishes the Bisnow on Business e-newsletters, including "CIO Weekly," which feature breezy interviews with leaders in a variety of fields. Free subscriptions are available at www.bisnow.com.

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