Tony Jimenez, a veteran, knows the value of a military education. A former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, Mr. Jimenez learned self-discipline, how to work smart, and how to motivate others. He also received a business education through the military and invaluable IT training.
Mr. Jimenez, now the CEO and founder of Vienna, Va.-based information technology company MicroTech, earned a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees in acquisition management and information systems through the military. The education helped him take his startup company from an idea at his kitchen table all the way to a multimillion-dollar business.
When the company started in 2004, it employed a little more than 100 people and had annual revenues of $12.5 million. Today, its revenues have grown to $39.1 million. The rapid growth has made MicroTech HispanicBusiness Magazine's No. 1 Fastest-Growing Company for 2009.
"The military has been a significant part of my success," said Mr. Jimenez, who was also named a 2009 Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration for his efforts on behalf of small business.
MicroTech has emerged at a time when information technology businesses are doing better financially than some other sectors. As companies downsize, they turn to advanced information technology systems to streamline operations and make business more efficient.
Mr. Jimenez, whose company specializes in telecommunication products, attributes the company's success to its emphasis on personalized customer service.
"We have a lot of good managers that help companies leverage technology to try to optimize them," said Mr. Jimenez. "We give quality assurance."
For MicroTech, it all began at a kitchen table in 2004.
After working at an IT company for eight months, Mr. Jimenez said, he discovered that he had something to offer the IT world that neither his employer nor any other IT company at the time had. Mr. Jimenez sought to begin a company that would not only specialize in information technology but would also provide clients with one-on-one consulting that would give them the know-how to manage their systems properly.
With the help of two friends, Mr. Jimenez said, MicroTech grew to what is now a multimillion-dollar business with 350 employees and more government contracts than any other IT business in the nation.
Mr. Jimenez attributes much of his success as a businessman to the U.S. Army, which he enrolled in with encouragement from his Puerto Rican father, who saw the military as an organization with boundless opportunities.
Mr. Jimenez earned his college degrees through the military and received extensive IT training there as well.
"Pretty good for a guy whose parents didn't have the money to send him to college," said Mr. Jimenez, who eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. "I came out with a set of job skills that were very much in demand."
MicroTech's largest customer is the federal government, which accounts for about 85 percent of the company's business. The remaining 15 percent of its business is in state and local governments as well as Fortune 500 companies.
An $8,700 Opportunity
"We might not have had as much success if we hadn't gotten this opportunity with the government," noted Mr. Jimenez, referring to his first contract, worth just $8,700, providing systems engineering as a subcontractor to the federal government. "We have been very fortunate to have chosen this (contract) not knowing the economy was going to do what it did." Two years later, in June 2006, MicroTech landed its largest contract to date, a five-year, $280 million deal for a project with the Veterans Administration. It was the largest contract ever awarded to a veteran-owned business.
As Mr. Jimenez continues to build his business, one goal is to hire veterans.
In July 2009 MicroTech hired retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Rod McKinley as its vice president of strategic partnerships. That hire led to the company launching the "Wounded Warrior Redeployment Program," a course that trains disabled veterans in how to manage IT service desks.
Besides being an avid representative for the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business initiative and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Small Business Council, Mr. Jimenez sponsors and has raised more than $4 million for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
The growth of MicroTech has brought the company national attention. The company has earned a plethora of honors, including HispanicBusiness Magazine's Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2007.
"We have a conference room of our own that is so packed with awards that it's starting to look like we're making them ourselves," Mr. Jimenez joked.
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