Meet Craig Adler, Executive VP, CFO and Board Member of DLT Solutions, a value added reseller of hardware and software technology products for the federal government and business sectors. Adler shares with WashingtonExec his thoughts on the effect of decreased federal spending in the M&A market, the future of Cloud Computing in Federal IT management and how his unique hiring solutions produce sound results.
As the 2011 Washington Business Journal’s “CFO of the Year: Government Contracting,” Adler understands how maintaining strong relationships with his employees and manufacturers, including Google, Oracle and Symantec, achieves consistent business growth and financial results for clients.
WashingtonExec: Please tell us a little bit about your background and your current role at DLT Solutions.
Craig Adler: To start off, I am a native Washingtonian that graduated from the University of Maryland. I got my CPA in Virginia and worked in public accounting for seven years specializing with clients in the government contracting sector. From there, I became CFO of a client and then had various stints at ARC, CSC and a JV between SAIC and Rolls Royce. I’ve been fortunate to have gained a wealth of experience in all aspects of government and commercial engineering services companies both domestically and internationally.
I landed a DLT in November 2004 and have never looked back since. Skills gained from my prior employment with these premier government contractors, including M&A, strategic planning, treasury, systems implementations, compliance operations, etc., has allowed me to take on the numerous challenges at DLT. From a fledgling Value Added Reseller in 2004, with no documented processes, inadequate systems, inconsistent sales practices to our executive-led Management buyout in 2005 and then growing the company by more than 20% per year in a recessionary period, to bringing on investors and an expanded credited facility in 2009. We are now a best in class VAR with over $700M in revenues, strong margin profile with a flagship set of vendor partners that continue to expand with the likes of BMC, Google and Amazon.
I now have responsibility for all of the Financial and administrative affairs of the company including contracts, legal, program management, information technology and human resources.
WashingtonExec: With an overall reduced federal spending budget, do you predict a more robust M&A market in 2012?
Craig Adler: The reduced federal spending budget is going to be a fact our industry will have to deal with for many years to come. I’m not convinced the M&A market will be more robust, but there will continue to be consolidation in our industry; especially as the larger companies look for niche plays as well as smaller companies who desire to compete at the next level look to get acquired. I also expect the deals to take longer to close due to expanded due diligence to fully understand the budget impact, continued conservatism on the part of lenders and buyers trying to protect themselves with atypical holdbacks and escrows.
WashingtonExec: What are some hot technology trends that you are seeing for 2012/2013?
Craig Adler: Consistent with Vivek Kundra’s 25 point plan to reform Federal IT Management, we continue to see tremendous opportunities in various aspects of Cloud Computing (IaaS, SaaS), data center consolidation including converged hardware & software, and increased emphasis on storage and security. When it comes to the Cloud offerings, because the government is funded on a year by year basis, they can’t buy Cloud services similar to the commercial sector; therefore we are seeing a wide range of Cloud computing business models trying to accommodate the government funding process.
WashingtonExec: If there was one thing you could change about your industry, what would it be?
Craig Adler: You have to be passionate at the govcon space to play in it. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a long, complicated bureaucratic procurement process. Every RFP/RFO/order, especially in the product space is extremely competitive. Then, even when the purchase order comes in, it’s subject to the availability of funding (under a CR). If the government could truly buy (and pay for) commercial off-the-shelf products similar to the commercial marketplace, that would be a major breakthrough.
WashingtonExec: How has your role as CFO changed as DLT Solutions expands or as the market has changed?
Craig Adler: Now that the best in class infrastructure is in place, I’ve been playing a key role, along with the leadership team, in expanding our value by increasing our technical talent with key Subject Matter Experts, pre-sales engineers and growing our organic services offerings. Each of these initiatives will fundamentally make us a much stronger and deeper company, bring more value to our vendor partners, strengthen our margins and allow us to grow well into the future.
WashingtonExec: How do you hire and retain talent?
Craig Adler: Most importantly you can’t be afraid to over hire. In order for our company to continue to be successful and drive the results we have been accustomed to seeing, we must hire the best professionals, keep them challenged and match them up with the right roles and responsibilities. At the end of the day it’s all about the “double bottom line” (as quoted from Ted Leonsis) – strong financial results in tandem with an enriched leadership team!
WashingtonExec: What is something most people might not know about you?
Craig Adler: I have a great passion for dogs and children. One day when I am working less I’d love to become a lab rescuer. I’m also involved with the Alternative House’s Homeless Youth Initiative and helping to find solutions to the homeless teenagers in Fairfax County.