FAST 50: Unique name resonates with customers

DOTMLPFI stands for what it does

There is no shortage of unusual company names in the government market. Often they are amalgamations of two or three words that connote power, speed or flexibility.

But Thomas Belke took a more direct route when he founded his company. He picked DOTMLPFI Inc., the acronym for the kind of acquisition support services the company provides. It stands for doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities and interoperability, which is a group of skills defense buyers are required to master.

“The general public may not know what it means, but decision-makers in the acquisition world do,” said Belke, who founded the company in 2007. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and worked for several large defense contractors. He’s also a Navy reservist, who retired as a captain.

The company’s name might be unusual, but Belke said it isn’t a limitation. In fact, the opposite is true. “The name is expansive enough that you can do just about anything in the defense contracting world,” he said.

That name and the skills behind it have resonated with customers as the company lands at the No. 32 spot on the Fast 50 in its first year of eligibility with a 94.09 compound annual growth rate from 2007 through 2011.

The demand for the consulting, engineering, and research and development services the company provides reflects the need for large prime contractors and defense agencies to develop capabilities, not just buy materiel, Belke said.

Some examples of what DOTMLPFI does include helping NATO develop a maritime situational awareness system to fight pirates in the Indian Ocean and helping the U.S. military develop missile defense capabilities, including modeling and simulation, he said.

“For every live test you hear about in the news, there are millions of simulations that are done to check out different technical solutions,” Belke said. “That is part of what we do.”

The last large company Belke worked for was Booz Allen Hamilton. After spending several years helping the firm establish its office in Hampton Roads, Va., he decided to launch his own company.

“I went to them and explained what I wanted to do,” he said. “I wanted to leave on the best terms possible.”

As a result, DOTMLPFI participates on several Booz Allen contracts, including one with the Center for Army Lessons Learned. “As brigades return from deployment, we interview officers and senior enlisted and non-commissioned officers for innovation and things that should be passed on to other people who deploy in the future,” Belke said.

DOTMLPFI also partners with Booz Allen on a contract that supports the Naval Sea Systems Command’s Program Executive Office Submarines. Booz Allen, in turn, has teamed with DOTMLPFI on the Navy’s SeaPort-e, a large multiple-award task-order contract.

In addition, DOTMLPFI is working on a major project with NATO. Because of the economic downturn, member countries are reducing their contributions to the organization, which is forcing NATO to get leaner, Belke said. “We are working on streamlining their defense planning process,” he added.

Currently, its work with NATO represents about 70 percent of DOTMLPFI’s revenue; contracts with the U.S. military account for the remaining 30 percent. However, Belke said he expects it to become more of a 50-50 split by the end of the year, with U.S. revenue continuing to grow at a faster pace.

One key to the company’s success is that Belke isn’t afraid of making mistakes. When he was a child, he visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and saw that Babe Ruth was the home-run king but also the strikeout king. He said he often thinks about the juxtaposition of those two titles.

“When you are facing adversity and you strike out, you just have to get back up and keep going,” he said.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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