When David Inmon was ready to try his hand at entrepreneurship, one of his first tasks was choosing a name for his company.
Redhorse seemed to fit, for a lot of reasons.
He wanted to offer professional services to federal government clients, yet he wanted to avoid some common terms used in federal contracting circles. Immediately, the words Integrators, Solutions, Systems or Technology were out.
As a U.S. Marine Corps reservist stationed in Iraq, Inmon served beside a U.S. Air Force RED HORSE Squadron — a civil engineering group that is the equivalent of the U.S. Navy Seabees. They made a good impression.
Finally, the Redhorse name is a tip of the hat to Inmon’s American Indian heritage.
Born and raised in Oklahoma, the 52-year-old Inmon is a member of the Choctaw Nation. He traces his American Indian roots to his great, great grandfather, who shows up in the Dawes Commission census — an authoritative Oklahoma tribal census made at the start of the 20th century.
Such a background can be an advantage in business. Redhorse participates in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program, which offers special benefits to minority-owned businesses — businesses owned by a member of a socially disadvantaged group. African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Pacific Americans and subcontinent Asian Americans may also participate in the 8(a) program.
Redhorse has special access to other federal contracts because the company is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business.
Inmon left active duty in 2008. Redhorse started operations in April of that year — which also turned out to be the year that Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and other banks were swept into a financial crisis. It wasn’t quite at the worst time to start a business, Inmon recalled — but it was close.
At first, there was little federal work for the company, so Redhorse did commercial work. An early client was San Diego Gas & Electric Co.
Today, Inmon and business partner Mark Walsh support more than 20 government agencies. Redhorse specialists offer services in energy, environmental, intelligence, mission support and technology. Redhorse is all about “knowledge-based services,” Inmon said — program management, systems engineering, data analytics, studies and analysis.
‘Tiny Version of an SAIC’
Inmon describes his firm as a “tiny version of an SAIC.” SAIC was long a mainstay in San Diego defense contracting, known for its diverse pursuits and expertise on various technical subjects.
Redhorse’s head office is in downtown San Diego — the business announced in February that it moved its headquarters to India Street — yet only a small percentage of its employees are in San
Diego. Most operations are in Washington, D.C., and nearby suburbs in Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia.
The business employs 260 people. As of late February, the company advertised more than 50 open jobs.
It was “a very good year”(2015) which saw the company double in size and revenue, Inmon said.
Redhorse took 1036th place on the Inc. 5000 survey of fast-growing companies in 2015, securing that spot by producing three-year growth of 420 percent. The company’s 2014 revenue was $13.2 million.
Like SAIC, Redhorse is “smart people solving problems,” said Inmon, who benefits from an advisory board of three business-savvy San Diegans: Gene Ray (former chief of Titan Corp. and current CEO of Decision Sciences), Susan Snow (whose diverse executive experience takes in defense contracting) and Bill VanDeWeghe (co-founder of RippleNami and formerly with RA Capital Advisors).