Fairfax Firm Signals Its Growth Plans
Fairfax Firm Signals Its Growth Plans
By John Makulowich
Even though the information technology industry he serves seems under the spell of nonstop change, Roger Mody has his future goals firmly fixed.
The 33-year-old head of Signal Corp. of Fairfax, Va., predicts revenues of $110 million this year, $225 million to $250 million by 2000 and a billion dollar company by 2010, with no acquisitions planned. Along the way, there's probably an IPO - just not right now.
Lofty plans for a company that reported sales of $55 million in 1996, up from $33 million in 1995 and $18 million in 1994.
"Youth is on my side," said Mody, in a classic understatement. "I'm optimistic about the direction of the industry and the customers we serve. There's obviously a shift in the federal government's perception toward contractors, with its emphasis on past performance. That's different from the past where success was based on relationships. Now customer satisfaction is key and that's one of our strengths."
Mody prides himself on the fact that Signal has never lost a rebid contract. Now in its tenth year, the high-tech services company with 12 corporate offices and 38 field offices across the United States employs more than 1,000. It provides information technology, engineering and management and multimedia services to government and industry.
Among its recent successes, the company recorded several large federal agency awards totaling $294.8 million. The biggest was a five-year, $242.8 million contract from the General Services Administration. The company will be responsible for automated data processing technical services for business and administrative applications, including requirements definition and design, computer security analysis, system development and software maintenance/ life cycle support in a number of information technology environments.
Tom Fynan, acting director of the U.S. General Services Administration's Technical Service Division in the Mid-Atlantic region, said, "This is an [indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity] time and materials contract with fixed hourly labor rates according to individual skill-level categories. The primary challenge in this contract, as with most contracts, is finding the right matches between government agencies' needs, budgets and skill requirements. The contract award was primarily based on [Signal's] past performance."
The company also won a six-year, $31.1 million task order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission through the Department of Transportation Information Technology Omnibus Procurement contract. The services required include software engineering, network engineering, help desk/customer support and computer center operations support.
A third recent contract award was a six-year, $20.9 million task order from the National Archives and Records Administration through the same ITOP contract. The services required there cover network operations and management, user support services, network applications integration and maintenance, voice and data communications support, Internet services and training.
"I think a $100 [million] to $200 million company is just about the right size now for the current state of the industry. We're a medium-sized company. We can mitigate risk and are nimble enough to act quickly when presented with opportunities," Mody said.
He admitted one of his major concerns, which he shares with the great majority of IT executives, is the labor market. The company takes an aggressive approach to hiring and retaining IT professionals with different types of personnel commitments, such as a tuition reimbursement program that pays up to $5,000 annually and a $1,000 bonus to employees if they recommend a recruit who is eventually hired. Signal also is committed to internal training.
Asked what set of competencies college students should achieve, Mody suggested a computer science or electrical engineering background with problem-solving abilities and the standard programming languages and server skills, including knowledge of Java, Windows, NT Exchange, ATM, Oracle and Year 2000 COBOL.