Dynatech's dynamic team Entrepreneurs: Earl Scott and Andrew Woods are being honored this weekend with the 1997 Entrepreneur Award as part of the Black Engineer of the Year Awards Conference.

February 15, 1997|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

Earl Scott and Andrew P. Woods III are making it easier for people to ride the bus.

Heading one of the mid-Atlantic's fastest-growing technology firms, Scott and Woods are also helping city police and firefighters communicate better in emergencies. And the owners Columbia-based Dynatech Integrated Systems are hoping that hospitals will seek their help in cutting costs.

In the engineers' high-tech world of communications networks and computer systems, it all boils down to solving problems for businesses and individuals.

Scott and Woods had an idea of how to do that five years ago when they branched off from International Business Machines to start a business. Their two-person firm generated $140,560 in revenues the first year.

Dynatech has rapidly expanded by forming alliances with major corporations; taking advantage of blurring lines among the computer, telecommunications and software industries; and being strategically positioned between two major markets.

Now considered a full-service firm, Dynatech designs, engineers and maintains computer systems, telecommunications networks and software.

The company has revenues of $9 million, employs 60 and keeps hiring. And last July, the firm opened a technology service center in an East Baltimore empowerment zone that added 20 new jobs.

This weekend, Scott, 35, and Woods, 40, are being honored with the 1997 Entrepreneur Award as part of the annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards Conference at the Baltimore Convention Center.

"They're the personification of the new relevance of minority entrepreneurial development," said Larry J. Smith, president and CEO of the Council for Economic and Business Opportunity Inc., a private, nonprofit business development agency.

"In the past, minority businesses were always considered secondary, under-capitalized and underrated. These folks are proving that minority entrepreneurship is good business and good for the community."

Dynatech is helping design a voice-response system for the state Mass Transit Administration to make bus and rail transit more convenient. Bus riders will get up-to-date information on routes and schedules, while the state can log and analyze calls to improve service.

As a subcontractor for Motorola, Dynatech helped design a digital-radio and computer-assisted dispatch system for public safety agencies and will install and maintain it.

The system will coordinate communication and give police access to driving records, criminal backgrounds and warrants through mobile terminals in their cruisers.

The engineers' backgrounds and friendship made for a good business fit.

Woods, a Cleveland native, has a mechanical engineering degree from the private General Motors Institute, a graduate degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech and experience as a radar design engineer with Westinghouse. Scott, who grew up in East Baltimore, has a physics degree from Lincoln University, an MBA in marketing and finance from Loyola College and experience as a materials engineer for the David Taylor Naval Research and Development Center.

At IBM, Scott worked as a systems engineer and marketing representative handling government accounts. Woods joined IBM in 1984 as an advisory systems engineer and marketing representative for large commercial manufacturing and engineering accounts.

In August 1992, they came up with a way to do their jobs and work for themselves. "Andrew had visions of entrepreneurship, but I walked into it looking at it as an opportunity where the timing is right," Scott said.

They formed Dynatech with a $250,000 line of credit and a $250,000 loan. As chief executive officer, Woods handled the technical side. As president, Scott took on marketing and finance.

Dividing responsibilities from the start, then bringing in a chief operating officer and human resource director, proved to be good business moves, said Smith, whose agency provided part of the financing for the East Baltimore expansion.

"They were able to pull together the right team from an infrastructure standpoint, unlike many entrepreneurial companies where an individual performs all those tasks," Smith said.

Work came right away through an IBM alliance in which Dynatech integrated IBM systems for customers such as Black & Decker and Westinghouse. Partnerships followed with Sun Microsystems, Hewlett Packard and Digital Equipment.

At the time, many large corporations were expanding marketing channels by forming alliances with small businesses.

"They're trying to meet a wide range of needs of larger companies, which suits the trend we've seen in the '90s toward outsourcing of services and capabilities," said Robert Riva, an economist with Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson State University.

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