GTSI's CEO mixes business, tech

Industry oddsmakers say Dendy Young looks like the perfect man to put Government Technology Services Inc., the largest federal computer reseller, back on track. (In December, Young was named GTSI's president and chief executive officer.) The only question in anyone's mind is why he would want this challenge.

Young sold his company, Falcon Microsystems Inc., to GTSI in 1994 for more than $16 million. With that money in his pocket, the federal computer community wondered why he did not retire to a Caribbean island.

Young has four answers to that question: his children. The four young Youngs play hockey on teams in the Washington, D.C., area, and they don't want to move to sunnier climes.

Young's family lives in Potomac, Md., but he owns land in McLean, Va., where he plans to build a new house. That will put him closer to both GTSI, located in Chantilly, Va., and the indoor ice rink in Reston, Va.

Because he is going to be located in the D.C. area, he might as well find challenging work. Besides, rebuilding GTSI will be "fun," Young said. GTSI, whose stock last year sold for $14 per share, has been buffeted by changes in management, rumors of acquisition by larger companies and lower revenues than analysts expected. As a result, its stock value has plunged to around $4 per share.

Now it is Young's job to listen to all the different constituencies GTSI serves: the customer base, the vendor supplier community, the employees and the investors. "If we address the concerns of the other groups first, the investors will, in turn, be well-served and have their interests taken care of," Young said.

Young grew up in a British colony in Africa and attended schools there modeled after the British educational system. He won a scholarship to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was one of MIT's first computer science graduates, in 1970. Young also has a master of business administration degree from Harvard University.

Young switched from the techie side to the business and sales side because he wanted to control his own destiny. "I have wanted to own my own business since I was in college," Young said.

Young's background blends training in both sides of business: He can converse with computer manufacturers on technical matters and understand their financial and marketing demands as well. And he will call on his own business experience with information technology and business process re-engineering to help steer GTSI back on the road to financial health.

During the year and a half since he sold Falcon Microsystems to GTSI, Young worked with the Industry Advisory Council on a task force to improve government/industry communications. He and Peter Janke, who has joined him at GTSI as executive vice president, founded the Exeter Group, a company designed to provide consulting and merchant banking services to information technology companies.

As Young takes charge at GTSI, comparisons with his track record at Falcon Microsystems will inevitably crop up. But Young thinks such comparisons are of little value. "This is a different company and at a different time," he said.

For example, federal buying rules have changed since Young sold Falcon. "All the procurement rules have changed," he said.

Falcon Microsystems, for most of its existence, had an exclusive deal to sell Apple Computer Inc. computers in the federal market. That limited the company's opportunity but provided it a fertile niche.

"The major difference is that [GTSI] is the biggest reseller to the government," Young said. "Falcon was very much focused on 10 percent of the market. [GTSI] is in 100 percent of the market."

These differences dictate that GTSI will be a very different company from the old Falcon Microsystems. But Young plans to stake GTSI on the customer service for which Falcon Microsystems was famous. "Our sales people will be the best-trained, most knowledgeable in the industry. We will make it easy for the customer to deal with us electronically. And we will measure our effectiveness with a benchmark: one transaction, one person, one time.'"

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