Andreas “Andy” Wilfong has built Colorado Springs-based Infinity Systems Engineering into a $300 million company employing more than 200 people in seven locations — one subcontract at a time.
While the 22-year-old company holds five “prime” contracts directly with military commands, most of Infinity’s revenue is generated from subcontracts with the nation’s defense contracting giants — Boeing, General Dynamics, Harris, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. Much of that work is on the Global Positioning System, a network of satellites that helps both military and civilians with navigation and a variety of other uses.
Wilfong came from humble beginnings. He was born in Germany to a German mother and U.S. Army soldier and moved to the Springs when his father was stationed at Fort Carson. He worked at local Taco Bell restaurants while attending Doherty High School and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to earn money for his tuition.
Wilfong’s first engineering job was working for Aeronautical Radio (now ARINC) on the satellite network — long before GPS became a household name. That came after he graduated from UCCS with a degree in electrical engineering and then two years of working as an electrician because he couldn’t land an engineering job in the middle of a deep recession.
“My first office was in a server room, and I told them put me where you want. That was before GPS was operational and when most people didn’t even know it existed,” Wilfong said. “I’ve worked on GPS my entire engineering career, and that is one of the reasons that allowed Infinity to be successful because I had become an expert in GPS after six years. I have been fortunate to work on a satellite program that is so valuable that it gave me the opportunity to start my own company and keep growing.”
Wilfong spent 1½ years at ARINC and an additional five years at Overlook Systems Technology, a defense contractor that specialized in GPS work, before starting his company. He launched Infinity in 1997 because he wanted to “treat engineers better than I was being treated. I believed there was a better way.”
Although he spent more than six years working on the GPS network, he had no management experience, so he took a class at his alma mater to learn how to set up a company, get insurance, choose a name and create marketing materials. He named the company Infinity because “I wanted to offer infinite support to the customer.”
Infinity won its first subcontract six months after it opened, doing engineering work on the GPS network for Lockheed Martin. That deal led to other GPS subcontracts with Lockheed, other satellite programs, and eventually work with other major defense contractors. But all of those subcontracts did not lead to the goal: landing prime contracts and the chance to hire the subcontractors.
“It was a real challenge to get our first prime contract — it took seven years. We had been awarded at least 10 subcontracts before that. It is difficult to get that first prime contract without having one already and I didn’t,” Wilfong said.
“A lot of companies acquire another firm to get a prime contract. Finally, in 2004, we got our first prime, but we are still predominately a subcontractor with just five primes in 22 years.”
The company’s most recent contract was a $22.7 million, seven-year follow-up deal to continue providing the Air Force Space Command with maintenance and operations support for the GPS network, a role it has held since 2016.
Infinity also was among the contractors selected this year for the Navy’s $20 billion-a-year Sea-Port Next-Generation procurement program for logistics, engineering, information technology and training work.
While Infinity has grown its revenue every year and was ranked by Inc. magazine as one of the nation’s fastest-growing companies for 10 consecutive years, Wilfong said growth is not his primary goal. He places more emphasis on winning enough contracts to keep his 200 employees working so they don’t lose their jobs if the company loses an award.
Infinity has retained more than 90 percent of its employees, in part because all employees are given a free annual four-day, five-night trip.
“Our strategy has allowed us to emphasize quality over quantity and keep engineering performance at a high level. We have only received exceptional ratings on our prime contracts from our (military) customers,” Wilfong said.
“This company is built from the engineering level up. We don’t have a high-level retired military officer in our management, but that gives me an advantage — I don’t ask anyone to do anything I haven’t done myself. They are like family and friends to me.”
Infinity has never made an acquisition — Wilfong said he is too worried about a “bad apple getting into the pie” — and he has never considered the frequent purchase offers he has received for the company. In addition, Infinity is mentoring a small Springs-based defense contractor, ITS, as a way to help a small business and the local economy.
Contact Wayne Heilman 636-0234 Facebook www.facebook.com/wayne.heilman