Pace Group Lures Top Talent For Its Burgeoning Business

Several years ago, hiring a management heavyweight like Carl B. Amthor, a Harvard Business School graduate and former corporate controller for a $1.6-billion-a-year diesel engine manufacturer, would have been inconceivable to the founders of the Pace Group, a small McLean firm specializing in interior office design.

So, for that matter, would have been the idea that Pace could lure an award-winning architect like Robert B. Anderson away from a national architectural firm many times its size.

But the Pace Group, parlaying a seven-year-old interior design business into an unusual, one-stop building shop, has just begun drawing the blueprints for its future. And nothing attests more to the attraction of working for this rapidly growing firm, known locally for projects like the Contel Plaza Building in Fair Oaks Mall, the Sky Courier Building on the Dulles Access Road and Jefferson Plaza on Rte. 28 in Rockville, than these two recent appointments.

Amthor, 51, was recruited in July to take charge of the day-to-day operations of three of the four Pace-affiliated firms -- Pace Design, an architectural and interior design firm, Design Resource International, an office furnishings supplier, and the Anderson Partnership, a new Alexandria office headed by Anderson.

Those operations have annual revenue of about $8 million and a staff of 60. The fourth affiliate, a construction firm newly renamed Metro Pace, is managed separately. Pace is one of the few businesses that combines architecture, interior design, construction and the purchasing of furnishings all under one roof.

"The company required expertise beyond the experience of the people who were there," said David Wilson, an interior designer and one of the company's founders. Wilson said he culled a list of 60 candidates looking for someone who could manage the firm, and leave him and cofounder Kim Kristoff to their design work.

Amthor, a specialist in planning, marketing and finances, has his work cut out for him whipping the business into fiscal shape. Currently, he is developing a new business plan for Pace, making sense out of its information-keeping systems, which he said "badly needs revamping," and attending to the company's new marketing and advertising strategies.

"This gives me the opportunity to run my own show," said Amthor. And he thinks that show is going to be a hit: "This is just beginning to take off."

By most accounts, Pace won a real coup when it hired Robert B. Anderson to open an Alexandria office on Sept. 1. The office, with 10 full-time architects, including specialists in historic restoration and renovation, will focus on projects primarily in the Alexandria area, he said.

Anderson, 41, won awards for his renovation work on a downtown Washington office building and a church while with Kerns Group, a design-oriented architectural firm. More recently with Benham Group, his projects included the Japanese Chancery on Massachusetts Avenue NW, and planning work on the Bethesda, Silver Spring, Rockville and West Falls Church Metro stations.

Pace made Anderson an offer he couldn't refuse. The flexibility of running his own office and "to design the way I would like to be designing" were important incentives, he said. Pace also has given him 49 percent ownership of the partnership and a share of the profits.

Anderson is attracted to the idea of one company that takes care of all a client's needs. The "one-stop shop" concept is both a good marketing tool and more cost effective, he said. "Having our own construction company makes my own business more efficient," he added.

"Pace," he said, "is much more progressive than . . . other firms in the area." PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Commerce undersecretary for economic affairs Sidney L. Jones has left the government to join the Government Research Corp. as a senior adviser. Jones, a Republican who has held key policy posts in the White House and the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury over the past 16 years, will advise the consulting firm's corporate and institutional clients on public policy issues. He also will write occasionally for the the firm's Investors' Washington Service, a public policy bi-weekly for investors, the company said. In addition to his work with GRC, Jones, who has served on the faculty of Michigan, Dartmouth, Northwestern and Georgetown universities, plans to return to teaching on a part-time basis. No successor to Jones has been named, a Commerce spokesman said.

Synetics Corp., a Reading, Mass.-based high-tech engineering firm, has apppointed Martin Wapner vice president in charge of its offices in Washington and San Diego. Wapner was director of the combat systems engineering research and technology office for the U.S. Navy.

The Maxima Corp., a high-tech information management firm, has announced two senior appointments at its Bethesda headquarters. David R. Smith, formerly assistant chief counsel for the Department of Energy, has been appointed vice president and corporate counsel. Smith will be responsible for all corporate legal functions of the company and its subsidiaries. David W. Allen, a former senior economist with the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, has been named director of new business programs and corporate affairs. Allen will direct efforts to gain contracts through the minority business set-aside market and will act as liaison between the company and government and community organizations, among other responsibilities. Maxima President Joshua I. Smith said the addition of Smith and Allen reflects the growth of the company during the last year. Maxima, which recently reported increased business in both the government and private sectors, was named the fastest-growing black-owned business in the country last year by Black Enterprise magazine.

Systems Research and Applications Corp., a Rosslyn-based management and computer services firm, has promoted Edward E. Legasey to senior vice president and general manager of program operations and Gary R. Nelson to senior vice president and general manager of corporate development. Legasey will continue to act as vice president for engineering and systems development, the company said.

Interface Video Systems Inc., a local video animation and production house, has appointed Ken Maruyama vice president in charge of sales and marketing. Maruyama was executive producer and a partner working in all phases of film production at Taylor-Made Images. $&% COMMUNICATIONS

Directors of Bell Atlantic Corp. have installed a secondary management tier at Network Services Inc., the subsidiary that manages the operations of the various Bell Atlantic telephone companies. Samuel G. Ford, formerly vice president for external affairs and government relations, and William A. Newport, formerly executive vice president for finance and administration, were named executive vice presidents of the subsidiary, reporting to NSI President Philip A. Campbell. Ford will supervise regulatory and public affairs, administration, marketing and labor relations, among other responsibilities. Newport will direct strategic planning and financial policy. Replacing Ford will be A. Gray Collins Jr., formerly vice president for federal regulatory matters. NSI, which manages operations for the various telephone divisions, including the Chesapeake & Potomac Cos. of Maryland, Virginia and the District, recently changed its name from Management Services Inc. In a separate development, Raymond V. Haysbert Sr., president and chief executive officer of Parks Sausage Co., was elected to the board of directors.

Doremus & Co., a New York advertising and public relations firm, has named Stephen M. Delfin general manager of its Washington office. A longtime Washington-area resident, Delfin formerly was vice president for public relations and advertising at United Way. There he coordinated production of the award-winning commercials featuring NFL players.