Midsize Contractor of the year: Stanley Associates Inc.

Phil Nolan

Zaid Hamid

Two years ago, managers and employees of Stanley Associates Inc. made a list of 11 strategic objectives, foremost among them a goal of reaching $500 million in revenue by 2008.

Last on the list, which is posted on the company's Web site, is "Increase name recognition and visibility."

Perhaps its bottommost position is significant. An enhanced public image is a goal about which Chief Executive Officer Phil Nolan has mixed emotions.

"Our approach is to be quiet and not all that interested in the limelight," Nolan said. "We do our job, we do it well, and our customers know that."

The Arlington, Va., IT integrator and solutions company now generates $282 million in annual revenue ? a 58 percent jump in the last year ? and is honored as Midsize Contractor of the Year in the Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards. And, Nolan said, he is pleased that Stanley Associates is getting more attention.

"As we get larger, we get noticed despite ourselves," he said.

Stanley, founded in 1966 by Adm. Emory Stanley, did not pursue a high-growth path until the late 1980s and early 1990s, when many members of the management team, including Nolan, came on board.

Since 1989, revenue and profits have averaged an annual growth rate of more than 30 percent. More than 70 percent of that growth is attributable to repeat business from clients such as the Army, Navy and State Department.

Another source of growth has been acquisitions, including information services firm GCI Information Services Inc. of McLean, Va., in 2000 and technical and management services company CCI Inc. of Alexandria, Va., in 2002. In 2003, Stanley acquired Fuentez Systems Concepts Inc. of Charleston, S.C., a systems engineering firm with about $45 million in annual revenue. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

The employee-owned company has 1,700 workers and is adding more. To get to $500 million by 2008, Nolan said he anticipates buying other companies and winning new contracts.
"
As we go forward, it probably will be 50-50 organic growth and acquisitions," Nolan said.
As for new contracts, the company will focus on supporting the Army, its largest customer, and the Marine Corps, he said.

One contract Stanley is considering bidding on is the $7 billion-a-year Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading-Edge solutions IT procurement at the Homeland Security Department, Nolan said. The request for proposals is expected by year's end.
The key to Stanley Associates' success is a lifecycle approach that considers all of the customer's needs, Nolan said.

"We try to take our customers from the initial concept and design to taking it into the field," he said. "We'll also operate the system for our customers, if that is what they want."

That holistic approach requires a coordinated effort by members of Stanley's close-knit management team.

"Teamwork for our organization is absolutely vital," said Nolan, who joined the company 14 years ago and was promoted to chief executive in 2002.

The management group includes several members who, like Nolan, served in the Navy or other military services. But shared goals, work and experiences aren't the only elements in building teamwork for the Stanley group. They also keep the informal lines of communication open by meeting weekly for breakfast at a diner near their office.

That balanced mix remains Stanley Associates' recipe for growth, Nolan said, even as the company expands and attracts more attention.

"I don't like 'I,' " Nolan said. "We're very much a 'we' type of company."

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