LaRoche takes field at Orkand

If we pitched as hard when we're not in trouble as we pitch to get out of trouble, we wouldn't get in trouble in the first place.

—Casey Stengel

Those words hang in Calvin LaRoche's office at the Orkand Corp., and even though the company's new chief operating officer is more of a golf enthusiast these days, he said the quote from the legendary New York Yankees manager guides his own managerial style and will help him lead Orkand's operations.

"It's consistent with having high levels of client satisfaction," LaRoche said. He added that the longevity of Orkand's government contracts further illustrates the point: more than 27 years at the Energy Department, 25 years at the National Institutes of Health and more than 14 years at the Labor Department.

"We've been very successful in winning re-competes," LaRoche said. "We believe that the re-compete starts the day after a new contract is signed."

Orkand, based in Falls Church, Va., provides services in eight areas: e-government; geographic information systems (GIS); electronic records management; information assurance; systems engineering and software development; enterprise management and operations support; deployment and training; and data operations and facilities management.

LaRoche, who assumed the COO role Sept. 10 after more than a year as the company's senior vice president of corporate development, views the com.pany's task as twofold: Maintain its established customer base and expand. Visibility, of course, is important, and Orkand will be "turning up the volume" in terms of public relations, he said.

As he looks to double the company's revenue in the next three or four years while maintaining good profits, LaRoche has set three priorities for himself: n Increasing the talent and leadership to drive those goals. He hired Lauren White as the new vice president of business development. She brings 14 years of experience with IBM Corp., as well as more recent stints with federal information technology service providers Keane International and SRA International Inc.

n Empowering Orkand's em.ployees in their different focus areas to satisfy the clients' needs and help the business expand.

n Identifying specific growth opportunities for new clients and new services.

The targets in the area of new solutions include e-government (specifically Web-enablement), helping agencies meet Government Paperwork Elimination Act requirements, extending the reach of Orkand's more than 30 GIS experts and information assurance, LaRoche said.

Even with its long-standing federal contracts and extensive list of government customers —which also includes the U.S. Postal Service and the State Department—the midsize firm of more than 1,000 employees considers itself one of the area's best-kept secrets.

That's another thing LaRoche hopes to change. The challenge for a midsize company in the federal IT market is convincing customers that it can meet their needs even though it's not quite an industry titan winning multibillion-dollar deals, or a smaller firm competing for small-business set-asides.

Still, that apparent curse is also a blessing, LaRoche said. "Being midsize is sometimes a challenge, but we feel it's a benefit to the client," he said. "What we do is provide the best of both worlds: the resources of a larger firm by focusing on what we do, and the responsiveness and innovation of a smaller company, without the layers of bureaucracy." When he's not positioning Orkand for the future, LaRoche is working on his golf game and paying visits to his three grown daughters and two grandchildren. His family is what keeps him going.

"The success of my children as adults —both professionally and in their personal lives —is my proudest series of moments," he said.

LaRoche is also chairman of the board of trustees of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md., and has served with that group since 1997. "I'm a big believer, and always have been, of devoting time to public service," he said. "A year ago, the board asked me to serve as chairman. I was flattered, and I'm serving."

It's also in that capacity where he first worked with Donald Orkand, the company's founder, president and chief executive officer. Orkand said their time together on the board has served them well as colleagues.

"It was unique in that we were not working for one another [on the board], and it was an important part of learning about one another," Orkand said, adding that he will remain focused on the company's strategic initiatives, while LaRoche runs the operational side. "A lot of it is personal chemistry, and I enjoy working with Cal. That's a big part of it because it makes the [formal] stuff easy."


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