Joe Martore, President & CEO of CALIBRE, is in charge of the company’s strategic direction, establishing corporate policies, and managing business and financial performance. The company won Contractor of the Year in the $75 to $300 million division for the 10th Annual GovCon Awards, and has also been named one of the 25 Best Medium Companies to work for in America by Fortune Magazine.
Martore, a registered professional engineer, received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also holds an M.B.A. from George Washington University.
WashingtonExec had the chance to talk with Martore about his GovCon win, his engineering expertise and non-military background, Employee Stock Ownership Plan, company culture and what it means for CALIBRE, and more.
WashingtonExec: Could you talk a little about the most recent news of the company winning Government Contractor of the Year?
Joe Martore: CALIBRE was named Government Contractor of the Year in the $75 million to $300 million category by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, Washington Technology, and the Professional Services Council. It is a significant achievement that recognizes the leadership, innovation, and commitment to excellence that CALIBRE employee-owners exemplify and what we do to provide enduring solutions that make a difference for our customers.
The Contractor of the Year award came on the heels of the prestigious Department of Defense Nunn-Perry Award which recognizes CALIBRE’s successful business mentor-protégé relationship with a service-disabled veteran owned small business. In addition, our company’s exceptional workplace culture was recognized when Fortune magazine named CALIBRE as one of the 25 best medium sized companies in the country. It has been a good year for CALIBRE.
WashingtonExec: Could you talk briefly about your background and what your daily responsibilities are as CEO?
Joe Martore: Unlike almost half of the employees at CALIBRE, I do not have a military background. I am a registered professional engineer with experience in the commercial nuclear power industry and with the Department of Energy in the areas of management systems, nuclear safety regulation, and environmental programs. Over the past twelve years I have also provided strategic and technical consulting to the U.S. Army Base Realignment and Closure program to support accelerated environmental cleanup and transfer of excess property.
As CEO of CALIBRE, I am responsible for setting and overseeing CALIBRE’s strategic direction, establishing corporate policies, and managing the overall business and financial performance of the company. To accomplish this, on a daily basis, I meet with CALIBRE’s leadership, employees, customers, and business vendors. It takes a team effort to achieve superior performance.
WashingtonExec: Where do you see your company in the next few years?
Joe Martore: CALIBRE was founded in 1989 and we established an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) 18 years ago. One of the things we are most proud of is our 23 years of continuous profitable growth. This is important to our employees, since 100% of our company is employee-owned. They are engaged in the decisions of the company, their input and ideas are valued, and they share in the successes of the company.
As a result of CALIBRE’s growth, we have expanded our service offerings and are diversifying our customer base, including federal civil agencies and the commercial market space.”
Given that Defense budgets will not continue to grow as they have in the past decade, and in fact they are likely to be reduced, our ability to leverage our services and capabilities to other customers will drive growth. Also, as budgets become more constrained, we are convinced that our customers will continue to require our services, to innovate and address their challenges more cost-efficiently. That is where our future lies – to continue to provide valuable results in mission critical areas, like logistics and cost analysis associated with the drawdown from Afghanistan, and with Veterans’ Affairs programs associated with veterans’ benefits and employment initiatives.
WashingtonExec: Can you talk a little about ESOPs? There are only a couple of government contracting companies based here locally. How is it working for your employees?
Joe Martore: An ESOP company culture is somewhat different than that of a public company. At our corporate meetings I tell our employees that basically I work for them, they are the owners of this company. The Employee Stock Ownership Plan structure allows the company to reward the employees (rather than outside owners or investors) with the company’s financial success. CALIBRE’s employees, as owners, are involved in everything we do, from planning to execution. On a daily basis, our employee-owners recognize that their decisions on how they interact with our customers and business partners, how they use company resources, and where we make investments impact the value of their company. As a result, our share value has increased each year over the 18 years of CALIBRE’s ESOP.
For CALIBRE, we believe employee-ownership is what differentiates us from our competition, and our customers recognize that difference. For the past three years, 100% of our customers said they would recommend CALIBRE to others, and 100% said they would use CALIBRE again. That, I think, is an indication of the success of an employee-ownership approach to business.
WashingtonExec: What is your approach to sequestration?
Joe Martore: The approach that we are taking recognizes that the procurement environment is changing. In part, to address their concerns regarding reduced budgets, some of our customers are pursuing low cost solutions, rather than best value solutions. For CALIBRE this means sharpening our pencil, continuing to deliver value-added results, and providing innovative solutions. Continuing to innovate means not only new solutions for our current customers, but also new service offerings for CALIBRE to deliver to new customers. And we have been able to do that.
WashingtonExec: How would you describe your leadership style?
Joe Martore: My leadership style was really formed as a result of a number of great mentors that I have had. That style involves valuing others as members of a team, developing strategy, setting direction, and encouraging team members with the authority and autonomy to take risks and to be successful.
Those who work with me know that I stress the importance of telling the truth and doing the right thing, when interfacing with our employees, our customers, and our business partners.”
WashingtonExec: What are some of the hot trends or opportunities that you see for the company over the next couple of years?
Joe Martore: Historically, CALIBRE had been essentially a pure play Department of Defense shop. Over the past few years, we have been executing a diversification strategy. We continue to see opportunities with our military customers, for example with data analytics and mobile technologies related to the Army’s logistics program, but we are also diversifying our business base and our service offerings beyond Department of Defense. Veterans Affairs has been a growth area for us, as is our commercial business in the areas of management consulting and environmental programs.