I’ve been in technology since 1984 when I got out of the University of Maryland. I didn’t have an interest in technology at the time. It’s funny how things work out. I had a friend who had started a job at a technology distributor, and they were hiring for sales positions. I figured why not? I need a job. Let’s see what that’s all about.
So I went to a company called Marshall Industries. I ended up staying there 16 years. It was a great move. I started out in sales, and I quickly realized that technology is where I wanted to be. I saw it as certainly a growth industry.
I ended up having a great run there. I went from sales positions — inside sales, outside sales — to product manager. I really learned the manufacturing side of the business. And then I was a general manager. I ran a branch that covered the Maryland, Virginia and D.C. area. We did both federal and commercial work. I was at that company until it was acquired by a company called Avnet. I took that opportunity to go with a start-up.
That was great. It was called Memec, a U.K.-based company with a couple divisions over here in North America. I was brought on to start a new entity. It was tremendous. It was fun kind of starting something from scratch and really building the business out. We also became more involved in the advanced technology side of the business, a lot of service engineering-type work. Low and behold, that company was acquired by no other than Avnet.
I was fortunate. In both cases, I stayed through a transition period and was able to kind of pick and choose what I wanted to do next. I’ve always been a little bit more on the entrepreneurial side so I ran my own business for a few years.
By then I had done a lot of different things. I’d been an area vice president for a pretty large territory. I’ve had [profit and loss] responsibility from day one, when I was a general manager, when I was an area VP.
One of the things that I just gravitated toward was dealing with people and understanding how to run businesses. To lead teams, lead organizations was really appealing to me. I really wanted to look for a company that needed the skillsets that I had. Force 3 was at a point in time where the timing was great for me. The company had been in business for a number of years but it was looking to get to that ever-elusive next level. I was brought in, and boy, one thing led to another. I was brought in as a director and then a vice president, president and now CEO.
— Interview with Kathy Orton
Position: Chief executive, Force 3, IT solutions provider in Crofton, Md.
Career highlights: President, Force 3 Federal; general manager, Abraxsis Technologies; vice president, All American Semiconductor; area director, Unique Technologies; general manager, Marshall Industries.
Education: BA, University of Maryland; MA, Johns Hopkins University
Personal: Lives in Laytonsville, Md., with his wife and three children.