Updated: 11:23 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010 | Posted: 7:59 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010

New Qbase investment group shares history

By Thomas Gnau

Staff Writer

The investors who took control of Qbase Inc. last week have worked together since at least the late 1990s, through thick and thin.

Steve Baldwin, Scott Reynolds, Steve Schlosser and Brian Nightingale left BTG Inc., a Washington, D.C., area technology company — in 1998.

Today, the men are partners , investing $5 million in ailing IT and data analytics firm Qbase, which has offices and some 70-80 employees in Beavercreek and Springfield.

Baldwin will be Qbase’s president and chief executive , succeeding founder and former CEO Bill Pardue, who will stay on for another year in a management capacity, Baldwin and others have said.

Baldwin and his partners — who already have advanced $1.3 million of their planned infusion — also are becoming shareholders in Qbase. After leaving BTG, the four partners worked at the firm that became Apptis Inc., an IT services company based in Chantilly, Va.

Apptis went through three name changes in six years.

“Apptis certainly learned how to adapt to the government market and consequently was quite successful in giving the government or selling the government what it needed,” said Ray Bjorklund, chief knowledge officer for McLean, Va.-based FedSource. FedSource is a market research firm for public sector clients, including, at one time, Apptis, Bjorklund said.

While Bjorklund said he does not know Baldwin personally, he agreed that his company positioned itself well.

“Those (company) name changes were, I think, further evidence that this firm was trying to adapt to its clientele,” Bjorklund said.

It’s that kind of adaptation Qbase shareholders might be counting on today.

Apptis went from 18 employees and $8 million in revenue in the late 1990s to more than 1,600 employees and $780 million in sales in 2007, the year Baldwin left the firm as CEO, according to a proxy statement recommending to Qbase shareholders that they approve reorganizing under Baldwin and his fellow investors.

A leadership shake-up

Baldwin left BTG as senior vice president in February 1998.

According to the Washington Post, when BTG agreed to sell a business unit to a competitor, Baldwin, Reynolds, Schlosser and Nightingale offered to buy it themselves.

“The executives never said publicly where they would get the money,” the Post reported.

Baldwin said press accounts of the BTG episode were inaccurate, but he declined to identify those inaccuracies or offer an alternative account of what happened.

The writer of the Post story was Mark Leibovich, today with the New York Times.

In an email to the Dayton Daily News, Leibovich said he recalled no complaints about the accuracy of his coverage. “I recall him (Baldwin) speaking approvingly of the stories at the time,” Leibovich said.

He recalled Baldwin as “the ringleader of four or five BTG execs who tried to buy part of the BTG computer re-seller business (against the wishes of the BTG CEO, Ed Bersoff, who had already agreed to sell it to another company, GTSI).”

Through a spokeswoman, Edward Bersoff, now CEO of ATS Corp. in McLean, Va., declined to comment. Dendy Young was CEO of a BTG competitor, GTSI Corp., from 1996 to 2006. Young, now of McLean Capital, also declined to comment.

According to the Post, Bersoff, then BTG’s CEO, fired Reynolds, Schlosser and Nightingale — who were BTG vice presidents — as well as another vice president.

In the Post story, Bersoff said the group offering to buy part of the company was going “to disrupt BTG’s operation and to put the jobs of all the technology systems employees at risk.”

A few days later, Bersoff rescinded the dismissals and let the executives resign instead, the Post said.

When Baldwin left BTG, it wasn’t alone.

“By his estimate, 100 BTG employees followed him out the door,” the Post wrote. “They lined the parking lot and applauded as he drove away.”

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