In March 2020, Brian Fitzpatrick stepped up the ladder, moving from the chief growth officer position at LMI into the CEO role.
The move came at a transitional moment for the nonprofit firm. In 2018, LMI had shifted from a division-based structure to a “matrix” business model built along four service lines: advanced analytics, digital services, management advisory services, and logistics.
Fitzpatrick said he is looking to build upon the inherent strengths that emerged through that reorganization.
“When you’re stove-piped in divisions, as we were, it’s difficult to work across the different lines,” he said. “The construct we have now enables people to collaborate. It’s a very collegial atmosphere, and as a result, we have ways of bringing solutions to the government that didn’t exist before.”
High on his to-do list is a further internal restructuring, with advanced analytics and digital services coming together as a single entity.
“We saw was that our customers buy those services together, and we had them separated, so it was just a very logical move,” he said. “There’s a natural connection between the two parts, and we just thought that together it really is a ‘one plus one equals three’ situation.”
These efforts to reorganize and consolidate business operations paid off in unexpected ways when COVID hit. Caught in the middle of the business-development cycle, LMI was able to continue responding to RFPs in large part because of the company’s earlier efforts to take a more wholistic approach to pursuing new business.
“Timing was on our side,” Fitzpatrick said. “For the last two and a half years, we’ve made business development an ‘enterprise’ exercise, so as opposed to all the content being on individuals’ laptops, it is available from wherever you are. That really saved us when it came to assembling proposals virtually.”
By happy coincidence, the company also had recently upgraded its internal IT infrastructure and had moved to implement Zoom meetings.
In early March, a crisis management team assembled to address the COVID threat, “and we were able to turn on a dime,” he said. “We have only had, knock on wood, two positive tests among our 1,800 employees. Vacating the building and enabling people to work from home really has helped us.”
Of course, COVID isn’t the only issue in the GovCon space these days. For LMI, as a middle-tier player, scale has been a driving factor, a challenge Fitzpatrick said he is eager to address.
“In this market there are companies much larger than ours who have competitive levers that a smaller company does not have. Then you have small business set-asides at the other end of the spectrum,” he said.
How to manage in the space between the two? Fitzpatrick’s strategy is to the grow the firm significantly.
“That’s what we have our sights set on, being twice the size that we were when we started by 2025,” he said. “The number of employees has increased by 50% since two and a half years ago and revenue is up 65%, so we’re moderately successful at achieving that scale. We’ve been around for 60 years and our strategy is to be around for another 60, and so we need the strongest foundation we can possibly get in this market.”
LMI approaches that growth trajectory from a unique perspective, as a nonprofit chartered to support the federal enterprise.
LMI doesn’t have shareholders, which means it can invest in its employees. The company offers a tuition reimbursement plan up to $15,000 a year for advanced degrees, “so we have a plethora of people with masters and doctorates that LMI has paid for,” Fitzpatrick said.
“We are also able to plow money back into research and development through the LMI Research Institute, so we’re constantly looking at developing new offerings, new technology,” he added. “Everyone does research and development, but for a company our size we put a lot of money back into the business to develop offerings that the customer appreciates.”
Nonprofit status also creates fundamentally different customer relationships.
“Because we don’t have shareholders, we don’t have that quarter-by-quarter pressure that other companies have,” Fitzpatrick said. “We think in years, not in quarters. That empowers efforts like our operational excellence initiative, where we focus on growing people and preparing employees for things like succession planning. We’re reviewing all of our internal activities, trying to create some efficiencies.”
A protégé of former Congressman Amo Houghton, Fitzpatrick credits his mentor with helping to shape his understanding of the special relationship between government and the GovCon community.
“There is a complementary nature to business and government,” he said. “People who serve in government have our country’s interest at heart, and people who are in business are driven to support that. We’re here to help government be successful, to tackle their biggest challenges every day. We’re all about supporting that mission.”