A Short History of TA Group

By Sheryl Tullis

This summer brings lots of change within our portfolio of companies. Over the next few weeks you’ll see announcements from some of our brands, so I want to give some overall context about how we got here, where we’re going together, and how much we appreciate your part in TA Group companies’ success.


Nearly a quarter-century ago, an idea was born. Before most people could spell “IoT,” Fred Michanie created a software solution using sensors and real-time data. Fred built this solution into a company, DirectApps, Inc.

In 2005, Fred joined forces with Rick Nelson and John Sercu, each becoming 1/3 owners of DirectApps. John became CEO and together they built a company that, to this day, follows the vision of building a company where employees can grow successful careers faster, and earn more responsibility quicker, than anywhere else. We also created TA Group, which owns DirectApps and provides business consulting, back office services, merger & acquisition (M&A), and infrastructure support. 

Under John’s leadership we’ve accomplished the following:

  • Launched the Roseville staffing division
  • Merged our ownership of Launch Consulting into DirectApps
  • Opened the Bellevue office
  • Implemented the Partner group and Sharepower
  • Began acquisition of other companies into TAG, including NuWest Group
  • Led the company through a recession while continuing to grow double digits year over year

In 2008, DirectApps was rebranded to Direct Technology, recognizing our growth beyond application development and uniting the businesses that help people fulfill the promise of technology. It stayed true to the original vision of accelerating business and personal opportunities, incubating and strengthening business units with shared services.

ECaTS first launched in 2009, commercializing Fred, Damion, and Adam’s original solution. It evolved into Software as a Service that would ensure every 9-1-1 call was answered, with real-time data and streaming analytics. ECaTS became a leading service used by more than a third of the nation’s 9-1-1 call centers, and a Public Safety thought leader with Fred as its CEO. In 2017 Chris Duxler became the President. Together Fred, Chris, and the ECaTS team built it in to a well-known brand in the public safety sector. It recently was acquired by West Communications. We are super proud of the hard work and dedication it took to build the business and the opportunities it created.

In April of 2011 Rick Nelson became CEO of Direct Technology. Under his leadership the team:

  • Launched our second software solution, ESG, in 2012, focused on the Energy Efficiency sector. It now operates as a standalone business unit with over 70 utilities and co-op customers in North America
  • Rebranded Direct Technology Consulting to Launch in 2012, moving into a bigger building
  • Staffing began operating under the Launch Talent name in the Seattle market and later in Roseville and Truckee
  • Opened Launch India in 2014
  • Acquired Averro and merged with Launch Talent in 2015
  • Acquired LearnBIG for Launch in 2015
  • Merged 110 Consulting with Launch in 2016
  • Acquired MediaAMP for Launch in 2018
  • Merged Level11 with Launch in 2019


TA Group Holdings (led by John) continues to provide M&A, investment, shared services infrastructure (finance & accounting, HR, IT, and marketing), and leadership mentoring across an ever-widening portfolio of companies. This structure has enabled the original DirectApps vision: each of these former DT divisions has achieved significant business growth, diversified their client base, matured their leadership teams and now report to the TA Group Board of Directors. Our investment team, which includes Casey Stenzel, CFO, continues to generate opportunities for the TAG family. We also recently promoted Peter Buck, TAG General Counsel, to President of TAG Ventures to manage current and future investments.


This month, Launch Consulting and Launch Talent will reach new milestones:

  • Launch Consulting has landed important new strategic accounts and major clients, and now is evolving its brand identity to “navigators of digital transformation” and updating its image, website and messaging.
  • Averro is on track for a record business year, along with some big news: this month, Talent will rebrand to Averro, separating from Launch to reduce market confusion and to enable growth with new services and solutions by partnering with Direct Technology’s IT Services.

Recently the TAG Board of Directors promoted Dan Konieczny to the CEO of Direct Technology.  Today DT consists of:

  • ESG, a standalone business, focusing on broadening its reach with the EECP product platform
  • Direct Technology Government Solutions
  • Direct Technology IT Services

DT and ESG both have made investments in sales support and are modernizing their image and websites this summer.


As Direct Technology observes its 10th anniversary this year (and TAG its 13th year and DirectApps its 23rd!), there’s a lot to celebrate. We’ve stayed true to the origins and incubated strong businesses that provide opportunities for over 1000 employees and their families. As a proud veteran-owned firm, we provide opportunities for transitioning service members. We’ve given back to our communities in countless ways, donating money, technology, and time.

All of this progress stems from great ideas, hard work, and a strong belief that when people have your back, you can do anything. Vision + Action = Success. Imagine what the next quarter-century will bring! TA Group will continue to encourage innovation and provide investment, infrastructure and leadership that strengthens our whole network. Thanks to each one of you for being a huge part of our success.

John, Rick & Fred

Board of Directors


Veteran Owned Business