After engineering and construction behemoth AECOM sold off its Management Services arm in February 2020, the newly sold business quickly pivoted and rebranded as Amentum Services, a standalone company positioned to grow in an increasingly competitive and technology-driven sector. For Amentum CEO John Vollmer, the challenges and opportunities of such a move were obvious, yet ones he was eager to embrace.
“It was an exciting and a challenging year to launch Amentum as a standalone company, work through the pandemic, close an acquisition, and become a $6 billion company,” Vollmer told CEO Magazine North America in an exclusive interview. “When I first started I looked at it as an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. Right off the bat we had the opportunity to build the company that we wanted to be. It was great to have a parent company like AECOM, but now we have the opportunity to build a company with its own culture.”
Amentum is a premier global government and private-sector partner which operates, serves, maintains, protects, and supports the most discerning and critical programs in Nuclear & Environment, Mission Support & Sustainment, Threat Mitigation, Mission Assurance, and Strategic Capabilities Engineering in Critical Infrastructures, Facilities, and Ranges both in the U.S. and abroad. Amentum boasts a 116-year heritage and in 2021 they are expecting revenues of $6 billion.
In September last year, Amentum announced its first major acquisition in the shape of global services provider DynCorp International. In a joint press release, the companies hailed the deal as creating a mission-critical support services powerhouse. The new entity will employ 34,000 people working in 105 foreign countries and territories.
“The combination of our two companies will accelerate our growth into key new markets such as aviation support services, contractor logistics support, intelligence solutions, and training,” Vollmer said.
Since Amentum sprung off from AECOM, Vollmer says the company has worked extremely hard on ensuring a smooth transition, taking into account client relations, branding, social media presence, participation in industry forums, and “just generally making ourselves available to the marketplace like we never have before. That’s a game changer. We want to be the place to work, and we really have a golden opportunity to rewrite the playbook and make that happen.”
Amentum completed the acquisition of DynCorp International in November, adding an industry-leading aviation business plus significant critical mass in logistics and supply chain management to an already well positioned company. Vollmer insists the integration process thus far has been seamless, with no disruption to business and the potential for a much deeper well of talent to move forward with.
“We’re a very agile company, and in terms of our cost structure, it’s given us a much deeper bench of talent and put us in a position where we have a market leading position in over 50% of our business,” Vollmer commented. “That’s in four key areas: aviation, maintenance and MRO activities; DOD test and training ranges, intelligence community and critical infrastructure support, and DOE environmental management.”
INVESTING FOR THE FUTURE
Vollmer was quick to point out that beyond the aforementioned opportunities for Amentum moving forward, the company is keen to invest heavily in areas where it currently has business opportunities but not necessarily critical mass, such as systems engineering, information assurance, mission IT, live—virtual—constructive (LVC) and advanced training. He also hopes the company can capitalize on markets such as the State Department and the intelligence community.
“When we look at all those businesses, we’re really looking to build momentum in areas that we believe are going to have very secure and growing budgets and higher margins in the future,” he stated. “Meanwhile, our core business platform enables us to make that happen. We’re driving growth organically in what I would call the higher technology and higher margin businesses, as well as being really active in the M&A market.
“In terms of the DynCorp [International] integration, I look at it as a team game. We’re putting together our strategic and operational plans with the leadership team of DynCorp [International] also at the table, so we have a better understanding of how we can become a stronger company. Where can we leverage our best practices? Where can we realize growth synergies? Not only in terms of combining two companies, but also across all our business areas.”
Vollmer embraces this same spirit of integration and collaboration when it comes to Amentum’s partners. He believes not only in forging strategic partnerships with large companies to go after Tier 1 contracts, but also in nurturing smaller businesses from niche areas, bringing them onto Amentum’s platform and faithfully abiding by any agreements they have made with them, breeding not only trust, but also mutual growth.
“That always brings them back to us, and that’s a huge deal, including from the federal workforce standpoint,” he said. “In terms of Tier 1 contracts, when we bid for large Department of Defense or Department of Energy contracts, we often team with significantly large Tier 1 contractors. That’s extremely strategic because that’s the first check of winning or losing multibillion dollar contracts. To do that, you have to have great relationships within the industry.”
“A key aspect of the business is the ability to reach out and bid into the federal government or even transition to commercial and state or local governments,” Vollmer elaborated. “And ultimately, the ability of a company like Amentum to keep a tempo of quality bids in the range of billions of dollars on a consistent basis is what is going to drive continued growth. That’s a differentiator in a really big way.”
Vollmer views technology as absolutely crucial to Amentum’s future growth, not merely in terms of embracing innovation, but driving tech into the company’s internal processes to enhance how they do business every day. Amentum boasts an Advanced Technology Office which it is investing in greatly to help both the aforementioned processes as well as the offerings and solutions the company can present to clients.
“We have bots that are accomplishing repetitive activity and making us more efficient, more cost effective, and a quicker and more agile company for our clients,” he explained. “We also look at how we can develop technology solutions that we can drive to solve our clients’ most urgent problems.”
STRONG CLIENT FOCUS
With more than 35 years’ experience in the industry, Vollmer understands all too well that none of the above would be possible without a strong client focus, an element he insists will be at the heart of Amentum’s culture moving forward. It’s a goal he believes can only be achieved by attracting the best talent and offering the best opportunities for the company’s employees.
“Even though we’re a $6 billion company, one of the things we’ve always been able to accomplish and continue to do every single day is to act like a small company, be agile, and focus on our clients’ mission,” he insisted. “Number two, we want to be the company that the best employees come to work for. To do that we’d better have the work environment, we’d better have the culture, we’d better have the opportunities over the next decade.”
By Anthony Moran