When the discussion turns to the importance of developing Stage Two companies, especially companies that have a technology focus, there is no finer example in Central Florida than Nirav Pandya and Orion Technologies. He began his career at Digital Infrared Imaging as an engineering intern and worked his way up to CEO of the company. He later joined Orion as president and was named CEO in 2012. Under his leadership the business has grown from $1.1 million in 2012 to over $9 million in 2016.
Joining Orion gave Pandya the opportunity to grow a business and to stretch his entrepreneurial wings, plus his experience in selling to the military and defense market was a perfect fit for Orion’s growth strategy. He had always wanted to help shape the culture of a company, to create one that was relational. His father had often told him, “Build your business like you’re building a family and everyone will give 100 percent.”
Joining a small business like Orion also provided the opportunity to be nimble, to solve problems and respond quickly which appealed to him. It also allowed him to establish a long-term vision for the company and the ability to surround himself with the right people to buy into his vision and to help him execute it. “I don’t think a five-year plan is too long,” he said. “You might make regular adjustments along the way or strategically change direction but having the vision keeps everyone on the same page, thinking along the same lines.”
Orion Technologies specializes in the design of embedded electronics which include both commercial off the shelf (COTS) and custom solutions for military, industrial, and commercial requirements. Their original niche was supplying customized single board computers, which Pandya describes as, “a desktop computer all on one small circuit board.” They are extremely rugged and are used in a variety of defense applications where durability is paramount – from battlefield radars and handheld mine detectors, to processing platforms on fighter aircraft.
Pandya wanted to scale the company, which hadn’t grown in over a decade, so he reached out to a mentor, Seth Ellis, who put together some investors that included Jim and Jeff Van Anda of Digital Infrared Imaging, to buy the business in 2011. By 2012, the new board made Pandya the CEO.
Since 2012 when Pandya took over the company, it has expanded from 5 to 24 employees and its revenue has grown over 100 percent every year “I think we can be over $50 million in four years,” he said.
It is not an idle boast; Orion just moved into its new 15,000 square-foot headquarters facility inside the Challenger Tech Center, located on Challenger Parkway within the Central Florida Research Park.
As you might expect, Pandya deflects the credit. “We have an absolutely incredible team. The synergy and the relational cohesion is incredible. We have almost no attrition. I’ve worked with my leadership team, David Beckman, Randy Horn, Rich Miller and Jeff Van Anda for over a decade. I trust them and they trust me, even though they are all smarter than me,” Pandya said smiling.