Phones are Ringing with New Work at
CECON.com LLC Technical Network
Friday 3 April 2020, Wilmington, DE – “Down time” for American business seems to be an uptime for one Wilmington, Delaware, Veteran-owned family-owned small business.
CECON.com LLC Technical Network, founded 1985, is an “arbitrage platform” creating and filling the market between highly-trained technical experts and the companies that need their help for science and engineering projects, expert witnesses for litigation, or due diligence experts in merger-and-acquisition transactions and financing.
“Our phones simply are ringing off the hook, and it’s hard to keep up with the email queries from our CECON.com website,” said Sam Waltz, a Vietnam-era Veteran of US Army CounterIntelligence who owns and is managing director of the firm.
“Senior-level technical experts like scientists, engineers, academics and business executives are realizing, on one hand, that this is a great time to get themselves listed with us so the market can find them,” Waltz said. “On the other hand, business executives who often are overwhelmed working ‘in the business’ find their remote work-at-home time is a great time to work ‘on the business,’ to catch up on the projects that necessarily require a bit more runway, including sourcing for expert help.”
The CECON business was started 35 years ago this month by a group of early-retired DuPont Company scientists and engineers, all of them men in their 50s who wanted to keep working professionally. Today, the proprietary CECON expert network numbers more than 1,500 experts across the range of ethnic, gender and geographic diversity, in all 50 USA states and 20 other countries.
Their resumes are “cloaked,” as Waltz describes it, so that prospective clients come to the CECON firm. With the client, the firm’s project managers work through and define the scope of work, from technical problem-solving to business solutions and value, and they negotiate a rate and jointly select the consultant. The consultants already are contracted via CECON.com with a non-circumvention contract, and they’re ready to work with the CECON.com clients.
“Frankly, the beauty of it is that it’s a win-win-win,” said Waltz. “The consultant finds work she or he would not have had. The client has a technical need or business need met. And, after the value-adding process of arbitrage market-making, CECON.com is able to cover its overhead costs and sometimes make almost 10 percent net margin, certainly in the range of a minimal fair return on investment for the asset value of what it’s created in the technical expert platform. The ‘view is worth the climb’.”
Waltz is the third-generation owner of the firm. He joined the company’s Board of Directors almost a decade ago, and his wife’s uncle, a DuPont Company engineer, had been among its 10-15 founders. The company was sold to a large global engineering concern at the end of 2014, and that company decided early last year to exit the CECON.com business. When Waltz heard that news, he bought the company on April 16, 2019.
He describes CECON.com LLC as “a platform business before the internet invented platform businesses, working in the gig economy before the concept of the gig economy developed.”
“As an early-out DuPont Company External Affairs executive myself, I worked across virtually every DuPont Company business and the industries it was in during my time there. I joke that I did everything ‘except invent products and make products’,” Waltz said. “I’m a ‘generalist’ at heart, with a background in business, strategy, capital management, merger-and-acquisitions, corporate finance and business-building. I’d been a consultant myself for more than 25 years when I bought CECON.com.”
“Like the guy who bought the shaver company, or the guy who invented the better pillow, at heart, as a person of faith, I love touching lives and helping people. At heart, I’m a relationship guy, a people person, who loves helping people get from where they are to where they want to be. CECON.com is the perfect business for me, to help people solve what often seem to them to be really difficult technical issues,” Waltz said.
“People keep asking me, ‘Sam, when are you going to retire?’,” said Waltz, 72, a Christian and a native of Illinois farm country, with BS and MS degrees from the University of Illinois, where he once taught.
“When you read my obituary, you can assume I’ve retired,” Waltz says he responds. “I have a friend, he’s 87, and a retired chief justice of Delaware’s Supreme Court, and he still works full time. I tell him that he’s my ‘role model,’ and that I want to be like him when I grow up!”