Harry Boston believes in the concept of fun
The Founder of Boston Government Services reflects on his journey since launching the Oak Ridge-based engineering, technology, and cybersecurity firm in July 2007. In December, he announced the sale of BGS to Bernhard Capital Partners.
There was a one-word recurring theme that kept coming up when we talked with Harry Boston recently about his 15-year journey growing and more recently selling Boston Government Services (BGS).
That word was fun.
In December, Boston announced that the company had been acquired by Bernhard Capital Partners (BCP), a services- and infrastructure-focused private equity management firm located in Baton Rouge, LA. Through the acquisition of BGS and a second transaction involving Richland, WA-based Sterling Engineering & Consulting Group LLC, BCP will establish a dedicated platform to serve the U.S. Department of Energy.
In a recent wide-ranging interview, the Founder and President of BGS discussed his motivation for starting the Oak Ridge-based company that will generate $100 million in revenue this year through its engineering, technology, and cybersecurity work supporting government programs, national laboratories, national security facilities, nuclear operations, and other enterprises with complex projects.
BGS was founded in July 2007 after Boston says his previous employer restructured and he decided to take a buyout. Why? “I was not having as much fun as I thought I would,” he says. Then, after Boston went to The Waste Management conference and secured a couple of contracts, he recognized he was in demand as a strategic consultant, so he decided to start his own company.
Three years later, BGS became a services firm, has grown to about 300 employees, and is a multi-time honoree on the Inc. Magazine listing of the 5000 fastest-growing privately held companies in the U.S.
“It was good to not get on an airplane every Monday and have more time at home with my family,” Boston said, adding that the 15-year journey has provided “a tremendous amount of fun” as well as a sense of great accomplishment. “We did not want to do things that are easy; we wanted to take on the challenging missions because that’s where the fun and opportunities are.”
Boston was particularly proud of the growth in the size and scope of projects that BGS undertook over those 15 years. Noting that the projects were ones that involved areas of national importance, he talked about his philosophy of hiring good people, getting them focused on the core problem, and ensuring they had fun while addressing critically important needs.
“Our clients respect and trust us to work on big problems,” Boston said.
What were the keys to BGS’ success? He identified four.
- Working on missions of national importance;
- Hiring the very best people;
- Making a real difference for the client with mission-focused solutions; and
- Having fun.
Regarding the last point, Boston says, “The best people have their choice of employers, they will stay where they are challenged, valued, and where they can do the work they love – that is the fun.”
Why the acquisition at this time?
“It gives us a second act,” Boston says. “We have grown and been successful as a small business and are ready to compete with larger, more capable firms. BCP will help BGS acquire companies and build capabilities that will allow us to be part of major federal contracts and to further grow in size and services. We’ll still be BGS, and we’ll keep our culture of excellence and client service – and to me, that was really attractive.”
Over time, Boston will move from being the top executive to serving as a member of the board of directors.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” he says. “I got some good breaks, worked with great companies, and had great employees, and we have definitely had a lot of fun!
Isn’t that the mark of a true leader who also can have fun along the way?