Defense contractor SGIS aims to make U.S. safer




Seven years ago, Hany Girgis formed SGIS from an extra bedroom in his La Jolla home. He took out a home equity line of credit on his mortgage and cleared out his savings account after spending a year working on his business plan.

“I wanted to build a company that took care of its employees and took care of its customers and had an entrepreneurial spirit,” Girgis said.

Girgis’ risk has been rewarded. SGIS has had measured growth in number of employees, number of offices, number of clients and revenues each year since forming in 2002.

In its first year, SGIS, now headquartered in Sorrento Valley, pulled in $490,000 in revenues. This local defense contractor, which provides information technology, engineering, intelligence analysis and training, now has 14 offices; 700 employees, including 200 locally; and is on pace to hit $105 million in revenues this calendar year.

“My best business decision was taking a chance on starting this company,” said Girgis, who had worked for a national publicly traded commercial information technology firm before forming SGIS. “As an entrepreneur, you need to take a risk, believe in yourself and believe in your plan.”

Setting goals

SGIS has set a goal to reach $250 million in revenues within five years and hit $1 billion in revenues in 10 to 15 years.

“What is important is not only having the revenue but really maintaining customer relationships and continuing to improve those relationships and improving services that protect the country and save lives,” said Girgis, who noted that 80 percent is repeat business within the Department of Defense, intelligence and space communities.

SGIS’s mission is to provide agile solutions that make the U.S. safer and more secure. Its core values include never letting down customers and surpassing their expectations, never quitting, never making excuses, supporting employees, always aiming for the best and always looking for a better way.

“Hiring great people is also key. You have to provide them with great tools. You have to create a plan and a vision and allow them to have growth opportunities,” Girgis said.

Developing relationships

SGIS has also grown as a result of strategic partnerships with defense contractor giants BAE Systems, L-3 Communications, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and San Diego-based SAIC. SGIS has served as both as a subcontractor and prime contractor with these firms.

Girgis, who is a University of Central Florida graduate, said that “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Fast-Growth Firm” by Verne Harnish has influenced his leadership and values as a businessman.

“It is basically a book of best practices from the best companies in the world, and we have really implemented a lot of those processes in our company,” he said. “It’s a great book and is really simple to read.”

As chief executive officer and founder, Girgis and SGIS have been repeatedly recognized for exponential growth since forming in June 2002. In 2007, the Small Business Administration honored Girgis as San Diego’s Small Business Person of the Year. Just last year, SGIS ranked 10th on Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2008 Hot 100 List of the Fastest Growing Businesses in America and named one of the top 20 defense contractors operating in San Diego by employee count.

Girgis is actively involved with the Small Business Administration and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, the National Defense Industrial Association and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

CEO profile

  • Name: Hany Girgis
  • Hometown: La Jolla
  • Company name: SGIS
  • Company location: 10105 Pacific Heights Blvd., Suite 130, Sorrento Valley
  • Number of employees: 700, including 200 locally.
  • Main line of business: IT, engineering, intelligence analysis and training for the Department of Defense, intelligence and space communities.