- The Washington Times - Monday, December 18, 2000

Orion Technologies Inc. recently reported net revenues of more than $600,000 for its third quarter ended Sept. 30, after posting $62,000 for all of 1999 and no revenues for 1998.

The Washington telecommunications holding company more than doubled its revenues from the second to the third quarter, and continues to vacuum up more market share through acquisitions, the company said in a Dec. 4 announcement.

"We really have only been successfully in the revenue business for less than a year," says Frans Heideman, president and chief executive officer of Orion. "It's growing according to plan and by leaps and bounds."

The company, which acquires and integrates telecommunication and electronic commerce companies, reported revenues rose 160 percent to $603,426, from $231,259 from the second quarter of this year.

Mr. Heideman says since taking over in 1997 and restructuring operations himself, Orion has been on a fast growth track that has led it to consistently increasing revenues and decreasing net operating income.

The company is growing through acquisitions in an expanding telecommunications market, but it hasn't caught the attention of any U.S. investors yet.

"It falls off the radar screen of a lot of investors," says Riyad Said, analyst and managing director for senior analyst communication services at Friedman, Billings Ramsey, Inc. in Arlington.

"We expect to see more than a ten fold increase in revenues from e-commerce for the next five years," he adds.

Mr. Heideman has a target market, small to midsized companies and home-based businesses. The company hopes to be at the other end of every dial tone, Internet connection and cell-phone signal, allowing users to use only one port and receive only one bill.

He wants to bring the telecommunications capabilities of large corporations to other businesses.

"A lot of companies whether traditional or emerging are looking to offer enhanced services," he says.

Orion's net losses are decreasing. The company reported net operating losses fell to $1.05 million from $1.25 million from the second to the third quarters in 2000.

Mr. Said says the net losses are typical for an emerging player in the field. "[Companies] will have increasing losses while they are building out their network or rolling out their services," he says.

The most recent acquisitions have allowed Orion to capture local phone-service market share in several cities, including Miami, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle.

"It is a pivotal point in our business plan," Mr. Heideman says. "It allows us to be facilities-based so we're not just reselling products. We are actually providing services, long-distance, satellite, data and cellular."

In 2000, Orion acquired Transaction Verification Systems, Inc., a 20-year-old Falls Church company that markets high-tech point-of-sale machines to combat customer and employee theft or error at the cash register. In addition, Orion holds a one-third equity stake in Poland's Rodan Telecom, which provides real-time, Internet-based access to Polish stock trading data previously available only to brokerages.

Mr. Heideman restructured the company about a year ago. Orion had an operating subsidiary whose mission was to help Orion become the "information technology backbone" for Asian development banks.

"With the financial crisis of 1997 and '98, that was very difficult to do," Mr. Heideman says. "So, I basically took over the company, and we decided in 1999 to sell that operating facility."

Now, he adds, Orion is beginning to show the fruits of the restructuring.

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