Carahsoft leaps ahead on 2011 Top 100

Reseller keeps strategy focused on customers, partners and technology vendors

Carahsoft Technologies Corp., a GSA Schedule contract holder, also could be in Webster’s Dictionary as a definition of quantum leap.

Founded in January 2004, the past two years the government sales and marketing company has made the Washington Technology Fast 50 list and has garnered kudos from other media for its rapid growth.

Carahsoft reported $585 million in revenue in 2009. Last year that figure jumped to $835 million, and the company made its debut on the Top 100 list of the largest federal contractors at No. 99.

This year the Reston, Va., company has climbed to No. 74 on the 2011 list.

Carahsoft President Craig Abod credits Carahsoft’s success to its three-pronged customer focus and its master aggregator program.

“We have three customers that we take care of – the government customer, our vendor partners whose products we sell and support, and then our partner ecosystem that we’ve cultivated over the years,” he said.

“We support them with lots of different contract vehicles and lots of partners. I think the customer base has enjoyed it and I think our partners and our vendors and our resellers also have enjoyed the relationship,” Abod said.

To support its vendor customers, Carahsoft has created a separate sales unit for each of the major manufacturers it represents, among them Symantec, VMware, Adobe, Open Source, HP Software and SAP.

“We had good growth in the company [and] every one of those teams grew substantially, so I think a good healthy, balanced business has been one important accomplishment for us,” he said.

To foster sales and extend its network of vendors, Carahsoft also employs what Abod calls a master aggregator approach.

That is, Carahsoft gives its vendors’ reseller partners access to all Carahsoft’s contract vehicles “to help them build their robust partner ecosystems,” he said.

The company also hosts webinars and other educational activities to expand the partners’ knowledge of government contracting.

Asked about the current federal budget tightening, Abod said he looks at it as an opportunity to re-evaluate Carahsoft’s focus on providing solutions that help agencies meet their missions and “have a good, predictable and fast and demonstrable return on investment.”

As an example, he cited the deployment of VMware products in virtualizing IT infrastructure servers.

“We made sure our reps were able to communicate to customers the cost savings and return on investment story,” he said. “The solutions we have I think are saving the government money, so we’ve invested into this market even as the budgets are flat and getting lower.”

As a result, Carahsoft is putting more emphasis on pitching its cloud computing, cybersecurity and desktop virtualization products, he said.

Carahsoft not only is reaping government business, it is sowing future growth by guiding about 20 small, emerging technology firms in the In-Q-Tel portfolio that want to do business with the government.

“That segment of our business is growing very fast,” Abod said. “That In-Q-Tel practice, or intell[igence] practice that we support, is another area where we’ve seen significant growth,” he said.

In fact, Abod added, Carahsoft has expanded the reach of those firms from just the intelligence community into other agencies within the Defense Department and the civilian sector as well as state and local customers.

“Part of what we’ve done to help support the vendors is get them introduced and help them craft a message to a wider audience but [one] that’s still government focused,” he said.

Abod’s 25 years of experience as a government vendor and his experienced management team that has worked with him for 10 years or more are honing that focus.

Looking ahead five years, Abod said, “Good organic growth is important. All of our growth has been organic. We think maintaining our speed and agility in the market is important, and we think we’re best able to do that with organic growth. We have plans to add 50 or 100 people this year.”

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