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From Our Founders: The Evolution of Steel Root

When we started Steel Root in 2016, the problem of cybersecurity was already front and center for businesses of all sizes. Our mission was simple: help businesses implement IT and security best practices so they can operate securely.

When we started Steel Root in 2016, the problem of cybersecurity was already front and center for businesses of all sizes. Our mission was simple: help businesses implement IT and security best practices so they can operate securely.

From the beginning, we sought to pioneer a prescriptive, security-first approach to help our clients manage technology. As trusted partners to our clients, we were determined that being a Steel Root client would carry a level of confidence in the security and compliance of the environment.

That focus on a disciplined, standards-based approach to security became our calling card, and we’ve attracted exceptional talent and like-minded clients as a result. Like most small businesses, our road has taken many turns and some quick swerving around potholes. But we have always sought to steer the business triangulated by our core values: Be an Advocate, Practice Security First, and Team Human.

As a small team, we’ve gotten used to punching above our weight. In 2021, we introduced our flagship reference architecture product – an optimized approach to security and compliance tailored to the high-water mark of Department of Defense security requirements. Demand for our services skyrocketed, and we realized we hit on something that was solving a real market need.

Even as we struggled to responsibly keep up with demand – often saying “no” more than we said “yes” – we felt skeptical about raising outside investment. As a managed services provider, many of the inquiries that came our way were more about the economics of consolidation than they were about investment in a proven platform that met the needs of a growing market.

Our perspective changed when we met M/C Partners, a private equity firm focused on small and mid-size businesses in the digital infrastructure and technology services sectors. From our first meeting, the M/C team impressed us with their depth of understanding of our business and their sincere appreciation for our mission. Our strategy and values were well aligned, and it became apparent that M/C represented a unique opportunity to bring our vision to scale.

Even more exciting was the realization that M/C had a vision of their own: the creation of a compliance-centered managed services organization—with Steel Root’s CMMC solution at its core—that specializes in solving the unique, complex needs of the Defense Industrial Base. To achieve that vision, M/C sought to complement Steel Root’s tightly defined product offering with a comprehensive suite of IT services that could both serve our existing clients better and also help a wider range of organizations—many of whom we might have said “no” to in the past.

We knew M/C Partners had spoken to just about every one of our peers in the market and, when they mentioned they may have found a complementary fit to expand our capabilities and accelerate growth, our thought was, “Please let it be C3.”

C3+Steel Root

Today, we proudly announced our merger with C3 Integrated Solutions, a full-service IT provider based in Arlington, VA that specializes in delivering cloud-based solutions for IT modernization, security, and compliance. We have long admired C3’s reputation, broad expertise, and proven track record as one of the original five companies authorized to sell Microsoft’s GCC High solution – a key ingredient to our compliance architecture.

What’s exciting is that C3’s commitment to the Defense Industrial Base rivals our own. Their deep relationship with Microsoft and the breadth of their services will enable us to serve all of our clients’ IT, security, and compliance needs, beyond what we’ve focused on doing within the Steel Root Reference Architecture.

Historically, our growth has been dictated by our resources and the size of our team, rather than the size of the opportunity. The reality is that there are a limited number of smart people with deep understanding of the Defense Industrial Base and their compliance requirements. With this merger and the additional investment from M/C Partners, we immediately multiply the number of experienced team members available to work with our clients (with plans to hire more) and can execute aggressively against our shared vision of creating the Defense Industrial Base’s go-to managed compliance services partner.

As we spent time with C3’s leadership team leading up to the merger, we began to feel like the two companies may have been separated at birth. As excited as we are about the combined logic of the new company, which brings together a deep bench of technical and compliance expertise, we’re thrilled to be joining forces with a company that shares our vision, values, and sense of purpose.

The combined company will operate under the C3 Integrated Solutions name and anchor itself around the Steel Root solution. Looking to 2023 and beyond, as our clients in the Defense Industrial Base face persistent threats from bad actors and a wave of regulatory requirements such as CMMC, financial backing from M/C Partners will allow us to double down on our vision and meet market demand, bringing our disciplined and comprehensive approach to security and compliance to more businesses that need it.

We look forward to showing you how this next evolution of Steel Root will benefit you. In the meantime, if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.


For some perspective from the C3 team on the merger, please check out their blog

Watch this video featuring Steel Root’s Ryan Heidorn and C3 founder Bill Wootton on the merger and what’s next