They had no conference table so the Klimiuks, Theresa and husband Mark, and their partner, Larry Shand, spent a lot of time huddling around their dining-room table.
Those were the early years of their company, Radiant Blue Technologies.
The three partners, who met years earlier while working at Boeing Autometric, hatched Radiant Blue over glasses of wine and long talks.
Their game-plan: Develop software for the intelligence-gathering agencies of the government. Theirs would also be a company where employees would get a share of the equity, not just a paycheck.
Radiant Blue was launched in May 2005. Mark Klimiuk was president, Shand was vice president and Theresa Klimiuk was everything else from human resources director to business manager.
“Some people think that when you start a company there are a bunch of suits sitting around making a business plan,” said Theresa Klimiuk. “It was a lot of discussions on my back balcony.”
They started going after government contracts but also started partnering with large defense contractors like Raytheon and Booz Allen Hamilton. The company soon moved from the dining room to the 14th floor of the Wells Fargo Tower on Cascade Avenue.
Radiant Blue steadily hired about 20 employees each year over the next five years and opened divisions in Chantilly, Va., and Melbourne, Fla. In July, Radiant Blue hired its 100th employee and expects to hire 15 more employees by the end of the year.
“When Mark and Theresa and Larry got together they had that one contract, but they were visionaries,” said John Odegaard, Radiant Blue division manager. “At the time, Mark didn’t know modeling and simulation, but he knew that this is a cool capability and there are really smart guys who know it — so let’s bring them on.”
Mark Klimiuk was a mathematics major with an expertise in photogrammetry — able to determine geometric properties of objects from photos. Shand was an electrical engineer, retired from the U.S. Air Force, with a background in managing and supporting national programs. They hit it off instantly as “two very smart guys,” said Theresa Klimiuk, who had been a manager at Boeing and Intelligent Data Systems. She and Mark married in April 2005; Shand was their best man.
The three partners built an employee-owned company and recruited people they had previously worked with, including Odegaard, who joined the company four years ago. They built health and wellness into their employee benefits program, giving each employee $1,000 a year to join a gym or get massages. And when they wanted to hire folks who lived in Melbourne, they didn’t make them move to Colorado Springs, they just opened a Florida office. Shand likes to say that the Radiant Blue employees each have an oar and they are all moving the boat together.
It’s working. This year, Radiant Blue Technologies expects to exceed $20 million in revenues. It now has six divisions including one that develops software for reconnaissance and surveillance programs for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Engineers take data from sensors, like cameras, and plot it on digital maps for analysts, Odegaard said.
Recently, the company launched a new division that specializes in detection of underground tunnels in response to concerns about border security.
Most of the company’s work is classified, Odegaard said, which means the details are not discussed.
On Feb. 1, Mark Klimiuk died at age 45. He suffered from a neurodegenerative disease commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Shand took over as president and chief executive officer and Theresa Klimiuk is now the company’s director of communications. Both remain majority partners. Shand works in the Virginia office — the largest of the three offices with 60 employees.
“We had a lot of discussions, tearfully, both of us, because Mark did not want the vision the small group of us had to go away,” Theresa Klimiuk said.
In the months since Mark Klimiuk’s death, Theresa Klimiuk and Shand have moved the company forward with a more aggressive marketing campaign — attending more trade shows, joining more business organizations, and sending more invitations to local and state leaders to visit the company.
“We are sort of on the edge of being out there,” Theresa Klimiuk said. “We are very good at what we do, so why not let people know?”