Sometimes, the best career advice comes early on. In Joe Martore’s case, it came from his engineer father.
“He always told me the smartest way to be successful was to measure twice—and cut once,” says Martore, who’s served as CEO of CALIBRE Systems since March 2010.
That early advice guides Martore’s current leadership of the Alexandria, Virginia-based management consulting and IT solutions company, which is 100 percent employee-owned. The firm’s approach, quite simply, is to plan twice as well as the competition and execute correctly.
Over the last several years, CALIBRE has focused on planning for growth—no small feat in an age of sequestration, federal budget cuts and furloughs placing increased challenges to contractor performance.
Growth Plans Through 2020
In the midst of that planning precision, growth has ensued.
Over the past two years, CALIBRE has grown 31 percent; and it’s expecting 12 to 15 percent growth in 2016. That translates into $240 million in revenue this year, bolstered by a net gain of $35 million.
For CALIBRE’s employee-owners, meanwhile, a robust share price has steadily followed— at greater than 17 percent compounded annual growth rate since 2004.
The blueprint for that success, Martore notes, rests squarely on the shoulders of CALIBRE’s 900-plus employees, over 40 percent of whom are military veterans.
As part of CALIBRE’s planning process, a CALIBRE team of 22 employees developed a strategic plan two years ago to grow the company from $150 million in revenue (at the time) to $350 million by 2020.
“That amount of growth was quite a challenge in this environment, but we are well on our way to achieve that strategic goal,” says Martore, who came to CALIBRE in March 2004, following the company’s purchase of the consultancy firm Strategic Management Initiatives, which he had co-founded.
“We try to perform smarter, as individuals and as a company, listening to our clients, partnering with our clients—to understand the challenges they are facing, not just in the near term but over the long term,” Martore says.
So far, that listening has paid off.
Over the last four years, CALIBRE was twice named Government Contractor of the Year in the $75 million to $300 million category. Meanwhile, The Washington Post recently named CALIBRE one of the Top Workplaces in the Greater Washington Area.
Similar distinctions have followed from Fortune Magazine and Virginia Business; and CALIBRE has received a DoD Nunn-Perry Award for its role as a mentor to a veteran-owned service-disabled protégé.
The company also maintains a strong community presence through volunteer efforts on behalf of organizations including Easter Seals, Homes for Our Troops, and Veteran Institute for Procurement.
Perhaps most notably, CALIBRE has generated a 100 percent federal client satisfaction rating over the past six years in independent surveys conducted with its client base.
Throughout, diversification helps explain CALIBRE’s staying power.
During its early days, from 1989 to 2003, 95 percent of CALIBRE’s business focused on military clients—a natural fit at the time, following the firm’s founding by 44 veterans who aimed to provide IT solutions to the Defense Department.
Today, more than 35 percent of CALIBRE’s business is with additional agencies such as National Institutes of Health, the departments of Interior and Veterans Affairs.
“We have a focus on government cost control,” Martore says. “So whether it is related to the maintenance of medical facilities or supply chain logistics, we continually look for ways to help the government accomplish their missions at a lower cost.”
Cloud technology and solutions are also a critical focus; so is providing support to sustain Defense and federal readiness. Plus, CALIBRE provides cybersecurity in key areas such as personal health data and logistics systems, and offers analysis and reporting of clinical data to clients.
As a result of the company’s business approach, a series of successes has ensued—each leading to significant cost-savings for government clients feeling the pressure from constrained budgets and procurement challenges.
“In general, we try to anticipate challenges, leverage demonstrated solutions and turn data into knowledge,” says Martore, whose company partners with technology solution providers such as Amazon, Microsoft and IBM to provide those solutions.
For the Air Force, CALIBRE helped institute a performance-based environmental remediation process; the end result has been a cost savings of $1.3 billion at over 2,000 contaminated environmental sites nationwide.
For the Defense Health Agency, CALIBRE is applying technology solutions to help the agency with its management maintenance activities for 52 million square feet of medical facilities.
Meanwhile, CALIBRE has helped Veterans Affairs reduce its inventory of disability rating claims by 82 percent.
The U.S. Army is another beneficiary of those cost-saving efforts.
“We’ve been able to save tens of millions of dollars when the Army was drawing down from Afghanistan and Iraq by analyzing the data—what, when, how many—and then coming up with processes that provided real cost savings,” says Martore, whose own analytical and systematic approach to finding solutions is informed by his early days as a seismic engineer (he designed nuclear power plants for earthquake loads) and subsequent MBA degree in finance.
Recent acquisitions are also fueling CALIBRE’s growth.
In August 2015, CALIBRE acquired the Health & Life Sciences and Defense and Public Sector groups of Reston, Virginia-based Information Management Consultants.
And this past September, CALIBRE purchased a small business, Fusion Technology, also out of Reston, which brings a solid reputation in the intelligence community—a key market where CALIBRE sees opportunity.
“That is an area that we expect to see growth over the next few years,” says Martore, who likens CALIBRE to a “learning organization and an organization that believes in renewal.” (That characterization also happens to be the company’s first founding principle.)
“We recognize we are very small in the GovCon space compared to some of the large competitors—to compete and grow, we have to plan and execute smarter,” Martore says.
“If we can be a little bit smarter,” Martore adds, “in just a very small way—and if we can build on value and demonstrated results—we can continue the success we’ve seen.”