The current economic environment has provided opportunities for David Hollenbach’s company, DSoft Technologies, Engineering & Analysis, to grow, acquire new businesses and expand its technical expertise.
DSoft was started in 1992, but Hollenbach came on board in 1998 and bought it from its founder. In the years since, he’s diversified the firm’s clients and purchased new companies in order to expand DSoft beyond its custom-made software.
“Our first contract was with the Air Force Academy, and soon after, we started getting more state and local contracts,” Hollenbach said. “It just grew from there.”
Despite some rough years during the recession — and the need to diversify thanks to sequestration and tighter federal budgets — the business has continued to grow.
Recently, DSoft acquired TG O’Brien & Associates, a Westcliffe-based business that focuses on helping the Federal Aviation Administration plan for a future with more crowded airspace. The organization also works with the Transportation Security Administration, testing security equipment to make sure it works properly.
“This was a good acquisition for us,” Hollenbach said. “It allows us to do something other than software and move beyond our usual customers.”
The purchase created one of the Pikes Peak region’s largest service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses. It also expanded its office beyond Colorado Springs, with employees working in every state in the nation.
Thomas G. O’Brien founded the company in Monument and later moved it to Westcliffe. With the acquisition, those assets are located in Colorado Springs.
“It puts us in a much better position,” Hollenbach said. “We provide professional consulting services in specialized engineering and sciences, including human systems integration, antiterrorism support services and testing/evaluation.”
For instance, in its work with the Air Force, DSoft provides modeling and simulation software that teaches how to respond to bad actors in specific environments — and how to gather the necessary military assets to combat the threat.
But that doesn’t mean that DSoft is moving away from software development. Currently, the company has government contracts to create and maintain custom-built software for business intelligence, web and Windows development and application development. It’s worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Air Force Space Command, the 50th Space Wing, the Colorado Springs Police Department, Colorado Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Pikes Peak Library District.
What’s new at DSoft is the number of commercial clients, Hollenbach said.
“In today’s environment, it’s a mistake to just rely on government customers,” he said. “You have to have a mix from the commercial sector as well — particularly here, in Colorado Springs, where the competition is so cutthroat.”
The approach has been successful, with 25 percent revenue growth from 2014 to 2015. It’s the largest Microsoft-certified company in Colorado Springs — and Hollenbach says he’s directed the firm to keep it profitable.
“The award of eight Microsoft, Umbraco, Oracle and Adobe certifications has provided niche capability and technical expertise, creating demand for DSoft’s services. It ranks DSoft Technology in the top 5 percent of Microsoft partners worldwide.”
DSoft is also aligned with Catalyst Campus.
“We’re adding new product lines and services and experiencing substantial revenue and employee growth in 2015 and 2016 — we’re prepared for growth.”
And it’s been a busy contracting season for the software firm, he says. If awarded the contracts, the company plans further hires and expansions.
“We’ll look into additional office space, and possibly hiring 10 to 15 new people if we get the contracts,” he said. “We’re definitely poised for growth.”
But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for DSoft, he says, in part because of the competition in Colorado Springs.
“It’s a challenge to work in this region,” he said. “There’s somewhat of a bias that comes with a Colorado Springs address — that it’s hard to get things done here. That’s changing now with the new mayor and new procurement officials, but you have to work hard to set your business apart. It’s a challenge to get the state to consider a local business, but we’re working with the [Regional Business Alliance] to change that perception.”
Finding talent also remains a problem in the region, he said.
“Workforce is an issue,” he said. “We have a lot of high-end work, and finding folks with the right credentials in Colorado Springs is difficult. We’ve worked with the [Pikes Peak] Workforce Center, Pikes Peak Community College and UCCS to find out how we can keep their top 10 percent of graduates in Colorado Springs. Those people want to go work at Google, Amazon, Microsoft. Our job is to provide some of the same type of work here — the challenging work, the interesting work — to keep them here.”
Still, Hollenbach says he’s committed to Colorado Springs.
“We won’t leave here — it’s home,” he said. “We’re working on a strategy to open a Denver location and we’re working to change the mindset of procurement officials through the Aerospace and Defense team at the RBA.”
The company also was part of a lobbying effort by the RBA’s aerospace and defense team at the state General Assembly to give preference to veteran-owned, service-disabled companies like his own.
“We got that passed and it was signed by the governor,” he said. “That was a big deal for us.”
Generally, Hollenbach offers this advice to fellow small business owners: “If you get knocked down, keep getting up. Keep expanding, keep pulling forward.”
“Also, if you think you can lay out a long-term plan and follow it exactly, think again,” he said. “Be prepared. You’ll have the world’s best business plan, and it will all change the next day. It’s important to plan, but it’s important to stay flexible, and respond to what comes your way.”
That philosophy earned DSoft the 2016 “Veteran Owned Business of the Year” from the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center.
“This reputation for excellence has landed new contracts from Olympic organizations, organizations serving veterans, military and defense to commercial, nonprofit and higher-educational organizations,” he said.
[su_box title=”DSoft Technologies, Engineering & Analysis” box_color=”#005ac3″]Year founded: 1992
Number of employees: 50
Contact: dsoft-tech.com, 598-7107[/su_box]