News Column

MicroTech in Overdrive

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It was no idle boast. MicroTechnologies LLC has topped the list of the HispanicBusiness Fastest-Growing 100 for three years running.

Last year, President, CEO and founder Tony Jimenez said his IT firm might be able to pull off a third win in a row. Now that it has, he says he feels "blessed."

"I've got people who really love what they do and it shows in the results we've had in growth -- and, more importantly, in retainability," he says in a phone conversation with HispanicBusiness magazine. Despite enticing offers elsewhere, MicroTech's people stay on "because of the success that we've had."

And some success it is. MicroTech's revenue shot up from $4.3 million in 2006 to $331.1 million in 2010, which works out to a competition-crushing increase of 7,585.7 percent.

Founded in 2004 and based in Vienna, Va., MicroTech provides large-scale technology services, systems engineering and product solutions to government agencies and Fortune 500 companies. Since 2006, the company has grown from 32 employees to about 425 employees, with another 300 or so subcontractors providing support.

No Limitations
Before going into business, Mr. Jimenez had already put in an admirable career. He enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private and worked his way up to lieutenant colonel before retiring after 26 years in the service. A military police officer, he was deployed three times to the Middle East and served in the first Gulf War, according to the Vienna Connection newspaper.

MicroTech's top brass include Steve Truitt, chief operating officer, who brings some 30 years of general management and IT experience to the table; Dave Coker, senior vice president of technology services and solutions, who served with the Army in South Korea, Germany and the Middle East; and former Marine tank commander Scott Sullivan, senior vice president of unified communications and collaboration, who leads the UCC team in the Greensboro, N.C., office.

Mr. Jimenez earned a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees while in uniform. "I had the same opportunities afforded to me as anybody in the U.S. had afforded to them if they went into the military," he says. "I think what the military did for me is made me realize that there were no limitations."

It also helped to have a guiding hand when he was a boy. "I was born and raised in a family where work ethic was critical. My father talked about always having to do more than the next person to be recognized," he says. "You can't just be satisfied with doing enough. You have to be satisfied with doing enough plus."

Otherwise, he says, "Opportunities aren't going to come your way."

He says hard work and a willingness to do more than is expected attract the attention of people who want to help. "That's particularly the case in the Hispanic community," he says. "So many times we've been pigeonholed and stereotyped into what we can do and what people don't know we can do," from judges to senators to business people.

"I am constantly asked what I do for a living," he says. "And they're surprised that here I am, I'm Hispanic and I chose IT."

A Little Help
After retiring from the Army, Mr. Jimenez started out with an $8,700 job providing systems engineering as a federal subcontractor. Just two years later, MicroTech had landed a five-year, $280 million contract with Veterans Veteransto provide network support for Microsoft products.

That award "expires in about a year," says Mr. Jimenez. "We just won another one as subcontractor to VA, very similar to that. We were too big to compete, so we ended up partnering with another company going in and winning one of four awards."

MicroTech has gotten help along the way from the Small Business Administration's 8(a) Business Development Program. Participants get four years to develop their business and five years to transition to the mainstream, undergoing annual reviews to certify their continued eligibility.

"Our transition's actually going to be relatively easy," Mr. Jimenez says. "The last two years, we've been the most successful nontribal-owned 8(a). It's unique because Hispanics just have not traditionally held that No. 1 8(a) status. It's not based upon the amount of business we do as an 8(a), it's based upon the fact that we do a lot of business and we are an 8(a)."

But they're keeping their eyes open. "Even though it's a small amount of our business," he says, "we're aware that it's going to close a door for us."

Word Is Out
MicroTech is now the prime contractor on more than 100 federal projects for civilian agencies and the armed services, including the Army's $2.5 billion Operations, Planning, Training and Resource Support Services (OPTARSS II) contract. The company is a Service- Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) and is ISO 20000 and ISO 9001:2008 certified.

About 70 percent of its business comes from the federal government and about 20 percent from Fortune 500 companies, with the other 10 percent deriving from state, local and foreign governments.

"We just did some really neat stuff with Australia," Mr. Jimenez says, "that unfortunately I can't talk about."

But the word is out. "We get a lot of referrals from people who are in government and then leave government and go to work for Fortune 500 companies," he says. The company's domestic client list includes SAIC (Science Applications International Corp.), Lockheed and Bank of America, while its overseas customers include the United Arab Emirates, the Vatican and Latin American countries.

Right now, MicroTech is particularly excited about the launch of its Innovation and Integration Center (I2C) on July 19. Opened with a grand reception July 21, the new technology center, located at MicroTech's Virginia headquarters in the Dulles Technology Corridor, focuses on next-generation solutions for virtualization, private cloud, hybrid cloud, green technology and UCC.

The I2C will demonstrate proofs of concept and conduct pilot programs, according to a company press release, along with regular demonstration, configuration, evaluation and testing of commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) products.

"We're watching what's going on in the communities we support -- technology, unified communications in particular, cloud computing," says Mr. Jimenez. "We're figuring out ways to put ourselves in their shoes and understand what they're going to need, and design and develop solutions for those needs in advance of being asked."

One of MicroTech's "big credibility checks" came aft er the 2008 election, when the company provided IT support for President Obama's transitioned into the off ce. "That the administration chose a Hispanic company was just huge," says Mr. Jimenez. "We ran around telling everybody. And then we got this call saying, 'Stop. You can't tell anybody.' "

When Mr. Jimenez began his business, "I sat at my kitchen table and hoped I would be able to -- maybe, if I was luck -- employ five or 10 people," he says. "And today I provide jobs for over 700 people. I'm a pillar of my community when seven years ago my community didn't know who the heck I was."

He was just another retired Army officer, he says. But now, "I get phone calls from my governor, I get phone calls from my congressman, my senators, my president, asking me to help them, when I'm thinking, 'Wow, it's a pleasure, it's an honor, to be in a position where I can do this.'

"I pinch myself, I'm so afraid I'm going to wake up from an amazing dream," he says.

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