FAST 50: How iTility turned a bad situation around

Things weren't looking good for iTility back in 2008. Then president and CEO Pete Sload bought the company and turned it around enough for iTility to land a spot on the 2015 Washington Technology Fast 50.

Before current president and chief executive officer Pete Sload arrived on the scene, iTility wasn’t doing too hot. Back then, in 2008, iTility had one employee working on a tier two subcontract that was losing money.

“There was nothing really to buy,” Sload said, who purchased the company after retiring from a 20-year career in the Army.

iTility was founded in 2001 by Rob Gray, a friend of Sload’s from West Point. After Sload retired, Gray brought him on and taught him about government contracting. “I worked with Rob for a year, just learning the industry side of government contracting and acquisition,” Sload said, who was no stranger to acquisition having worked in the Army Acquisition Corps.

Part of the reason Sload bought the company was due to his service-disabled status--he figured it could help turn the company around. Three months after joining the company, iTility won its first contract under Sload's leadership with the Army. The growth did not stop there.

In 2012, iTility hit $3.5 million in annual revenue and won a big Air Force contract which was instrumental in the company’s growth, raising them to $15 million the following year and just over $23 million in fiscal 2014, Sload said.

The Air Force contract, called Contracted Advisory and Assistance Services, or CAAS, is a multiple-award IDIQ contract with 16 other companies on it. That does not deter iTility, Sload said. “We’ve won the most task orders, and we bid the most.”

But because the company bids so much, “we also have the dishonor of losing the most,” Sload added. But for him, that is the point; “With an IDIQ, you made a promise to the government that you’re going to participate and provide then solutions. We try to bid as often as we can to give the government the best possible solution,” he said.

The steady ride upward since Sload took the reigns has iTility taking the No. 17 spot in Washington Technology’s Fast 50 list with a compound annual growth rate of 100.22 percent and $22.5 million in fiscal 2014 revenue.

Things are going well for the company now. iTility used to do 100 percent defense work, but the company is moving more into the civilian space now. In a few months, after a recent State department win begins to ramp up, Sload said—the division between defense and civilian work will probably be up to 75 percent versus 25 percent.

Right now, iTility is in a “calm before the storm” period. The company is waiting to hear back about an award from the U.S. Special Operations command—a targeted customer for iTility—which would develop a new capability and potentially double the company, Sload said.

The company just received an ISO-9001 certification, as well. “As you get bigger and start growing, it’s very important to establish standardize processes across our different programs,” Sload said, and since the company has multiple officers and employees as far as in Qatar, the time was now to get certified.

The culture at iTility’s Herndon, Va., headquarters is communicative, Sload said, and it reminds him of his days in the Army. “A lot of us will yell from office to office,” he added. iTility also arranges company luncheons on Fridays where employees can sit and have lunch together while talking about where the company is going and lessons learned.

One of the biggest challenges iTility faces now and going forward is one other government contractors are sure to recognize—the frenzy of acquisition schedules. “It’s very hard to schedule the acquisition schedules with the federal government,” Sload said. “You try to put your schedule together to manage your resources properly, but it never seems to go that way.”

Regardless, over the next year, the company is focused on education and training opportunities specifically with the U.S. Special Operations Command, but plans on taking those capabilities and extending them to other customers as well.

Beyond that, iTility is preparing itself for the transition to becoming a large business. The company is working on fine tuning its strategy. Sload is also wary of competition once the company breaches the full and open category.

“We’ll compete a little bit [in full and open] before we have to do it full-time,” Sload said.

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