Integral Systems plans to move to Columbia

The Baltimore Sun

Satellite provider Integral Systems Inc. will relocate its expanding headquarters to Columbia from Lanham early next year, executives said yesterday, after scouring locations throughout Maryland and Northern Virginia for the past six months.

That move comes as the company has bounced back during the past year under new leadership, said Chief Financial Officer William M. Bambarger Jr. Integral faced turmoil in 2006, with management shake-ups, a scandal and a now-abandoned plan to sell itself.

The company's stock is up 60 percent from a year ago, closing yesterday at $37.35 on the Nasdaq. And it has outgrown its 90,000 square feet of space in Lanham.

"We've gotten away from the distractions that we've had in the past, and we're focusing much more on strategic initiatives," Bambarger said.

The 230-employee move to Howard County, which will be formally announced at an event Monday, should make recruiting and commuting easier, Bambarger said.

Founded in 1982, Integral Systems provides satellite technology to support various communications, science and meteorological missions. Its clients include Northrop Grumman Corp., which is using Integral Systems to help develop a next-generation GPS satellite command system for the Air Force.

Close to I-95

The company's new headquarters - 131,000 square feet of space at 6721 Columbia Gateway Drive - is close to Interstate 95. And among Howard County's other features is a school system that consistently ranks tops in the state.

Executives also considered other spots in Prince George's and in Anne Arundel counties as well as Northern Virginia. The company has another 270 employees at locations in California, Colorado, New Hampshire and France.

Integral Systems is at least the second Lanham company to defect to Columbia recently.

This month, database marketing agency Merkle Inc. completed its move to the Gateway business park, relocating 450 employees into 120,000 square feet.

Integral Systems, like Merkle, will receive a county tax credit incentive package as part of the move. It's also in talks with the state about potential grants for employee training.

Richard W. Story, chief executive of the Howard County Economic Development Authority, confirmed the tax credit incentive. But he declined to comment on specifics, or the county's development strategy in regards to that of Prince George's, until after the official announcement Monday.

Kwasi Holman, chief executive of the Prince George's County Economic Development Corp., said he doesn't see a trend in the making.

"Most of the companies that we work with are pleased with their location, and to the extent that we have needs to be addressed, we work with them to resolve then," Holman said, adding that the county continues to attract companies, including a new 500-employee Comcast location in Largo.

Executive changes

Integral Systems has weathered several management shake-ups during recent years.

In 2006, Chief Executive Officer Steven R. Chamberlain left after being charged with sexual misconduct and later pleading guilty to a fourth-degree sex offense. Last year, his successor and the chief financial officer resigned to take executive vice president posts.

The company announced in April 2006 that it had hired an investment banker to explore strategic alternatives. But executives decided to take the company off the block, saying they did not receive lucrative offers.

"The valuations that they were getting as a result of all the press and distractions [were low], it wasn't in the investors' best interest to sell at the values they were getting," said Bambarger, who joined the company in September as part of a leadership change led by interim CEO Alan Baldwin.

"Alan has really led the way in getting leadership interested in growing the business," Bambarger said.

But, he added, "even through all of the distractions that we had in 2006, the company was always solid."

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