Business Council of Alabama member Radiance Technologies, Inc. President Bill Bailey began his career as a U.S. Air Force B-52 mechanic and spent four years on the flight line servicing the legendary airplane. The Air Force provided Bailey with the opportunity to attend college where he earned a degree in electrical engineering, received a commission, and began research work.
After military downsizing about 25 years ago, the Ashville, Ala., native took his experience and security clearance to Huntsville. Ten years or so later, Bailey was recruited as a senior engineer to start a technical intelligence group at the new engineering services company named Radiance Technologies, Inc., founded by Jon Dennis and George Clark.
Now president of one of the fastest growing companies in Alabama, Bailey is the executive responsible for over 700 employees. “We doubled in size in the last two and a half years,” Bailey said.
But, in a way, they all are responsible for each other.
In a telephone interview, Bailey talked about Radiance’s five core business units that support the nation’s warfighters, provide analysis and intelligence to support their operations, analyze foreign military capabilities into the future, their effectiveness and vulnerabilities, and conduct cyber research for the Air Force, among other functions.
“We support the guy at the pointy end of the spear,” Bailey said.
Bailey is tuned into the company’s capabilities and how it makes stuff work, but what he really is enthusiastic about is the company’s people in corporate facilities in nine states, project offices in 14 states, and one foreign country.
Since 1999, Radiance has been employee-owned. “The only people who own stock in Radiance are our employees,” Bailey said.
Bailey said employees feel like they own Radiance and have a dynamic focus on what’s good for business.
“Everyone has a buy-in incentive,” he said. “Everybody will eventually own stock.”
Radiance Technologies, Inc. President Bill Bailey
According to Bailey, one aspect of employment with an employee-owned company is if you are not the right fit, you soon move on.
“We hire good managers and promote good people,” Bailey said. “It’s an amplifier to us growing. It takes care of itself because everybody has a vested interest in our health.”
Over the last 10 years to 15 years in the Huntsville area alone, five or six significant companies have moved to Employee Stock Ownership Plans.
“A lot of people are starting to understand the benefit of that model,” Bailey said. “When you have employees who feel they own the company, you understand the difference that it makes. It’s very good for Alabama and Huntsville. Employees generate wealth and generate their own financial security.
“Senior leadership focuses on this, I personally focus on it,” Bailey said. “I may be the president, and all the employees work for the president, and he works for the board of directors, but the board of directors works for the stockholders, and worry about their best interests.”
Radiance’s first office was a 3,000-square-foot building with folding card tables for office furniture and an initial subcontract supporting the U.S. Army. By the end of 1999, Radiance had grown to 11 employees, achieved revenue of $1.2 million, and had outgrown its initial office.
Needless to say, the card tables and chairs have been replaced. By the fifth year of operation, revenue was north of $17 million and the company employed 117 men and women. Radiance had revenues of about $116.7 million in 2015 and finished the year with more than 500 employees.
Radiance relocated to the current Wynn Drive location and operates a three-building assembly, integration, and manufacturing complex.
Radiance’s five operation groups are Integration and Prototyping, from concept to fielding prototypes; Technical Intelligence to support mission critical operations; Cyber Solutions to ensure U.S. domination of cyberspace; Engineering Services to five agencies; and Operational Intelligence to sustain command, control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance across the globe.
Over the years, Radiance has been recognized as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Region IV Prime Contractor of the Year for 2007, the 2006 Huntsville/Madison County Technology Small Business of the Year, and three years on the INC Magazine’s list of the 500 fastest growing, privately held small businesses in the U.S.
In 2011, Radiance received a Tibbetts Award from the Small Business Administration for improving technology in a defense project while keeping costs down.
“Our goal in forming the company was to be employee-owned, work in a team environment, focus on technology, and be operationally relevant,” Bailey said. “We wanted our employees to be motivated, to share in the growth of the company, and have the flexibility to pursue opportunities of interest to them. Based on what we envisioned, Radiance has been a success.”