ENTREPRENEUR SPOTLIGHT

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ENTREPRENEUR SPOTLIGHT

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Eleanor Chiogioji
President
Mele Associates Inc.

7428 Westmore Road
Rockville, Md. 20850
Phone: (301) 309-8442
Fax: (301) 309-9113

When Eleanor Chiogioji left teaching at the University of Maryland in 1984 to pursue a one-year research project, she never imagined that 13 years later she would own and operate a business with revenues exceeding $9 million.

With a five-year growth rate of 17,713 percent and a No. 2 ranking in the 1997 Washington Technology Fast 50 list of the fastest growing local companies, Chiogioji's company, Mele Associates Inc., has taken off. The 8(a) firm started in 1993 as a provider of engineering and environmental services, but since then has branched out into information technology work.

Today infotech services account for roughly one-third of the company's overall business, while more than half of its other customers require some infotech component in their dealings with Mele. Two-thirds of the company's contracts are with the government, and the remaining third lie in commercial markets.

Mele has held contracts with the departments of Energy and Transportation in the past. Today it holds contracts with the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Energy, the Baltimore Housing Authority and the U.S. Navy.

Chiogioji credits successful teaming - as a contractor and as a subcontractor - for a good deal of Mele's growth. The company has partnered with a number of prime contractors including San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp., McLean, Va.-based BDM International Inc., Vienna, Va.-based GRC International Inc., Catonsville, Md.-based Syscon Inc. and Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin Corp.

As part of its tremendous growth, Mele has gone from a staff of two in 1992 to 150 employees in 1997. Chiogioji says her company has been extremely lucky in attracting the kind of employees who can truly deliver quality service. Nearly 30 percent of Mele's employees hold a doctorate in their given field.

Chiogioji is carefully directing the company's future. She wants the company to return to its roots in training and plans to pursue contracts in the field of distance learning.

"There will always be good money in training,"she said, "With the growth of the computer-based training market there will be even more money to be made."

- Matt Hines

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