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VENTURA COUNTY BUSINESS | THE BUSINESS BEAT

ITS Corp. Gets Foot in Door for U.S. Contract

May 09, 2000|TONY LYSTRA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

VENTURA — Bruce Crothers set down the phone receiver and leaped from his desk chair with a joyful howl, as employees gathered near him and champagne corks popped.

"We won!" Crothers shouted.

The president and chairman of the board of ITS Corp. had just learned that his company had garnered a monster contract with the federal government's General Services Administration, allowing the firm to compete for as much as $20 billion in work and nearly double its size by year's end.

Ventura-based ITS provides a broad range of computer services--such as networking and technical support--to federal agencies, including Ventura County's two naval bases.

Winning the government contract is a coup for the mid-size company, which has been aggressively expanding for two years. In 1998, ITS won a similar federal contract that more than doubled the company's size. The victory was, at least in part, the result of a new business development team and a mission statement--the company's first since it was founded in Camarillo 26 years ago, Crothers said.

Since those seemingly minor strategy adjustments, the company has exploded. In 1999, ITS garnered $10 million in revenue. This year, the privately owned company will make $30 million, according to Crothers' predictions.

ITS employs 500 workers in 18 states. By December, Crothers plans to hire an additional 300 to 400. He said he expects the growth will continue through the next two to three years, doubling the company's size each year.

Expansion plans for Ventura County include adding at least 20 employees to the roughly 50 who currently work in area offices. The Ventura headquarters will probably also add 5,000 square feet of office space, Crothers said.

"This new contract really moves us up a notch in all of our plans for the future," he said. "It'll keep us very busy."

ITS is a scrappy company that successfully slugged it out with bigger corporations to get its latest government contract, said Kari Garell, senior vice president of business development for Virginia-based DynCorp, which has partnered with ITS on nearly half a dozen government technology jobs. ITS came out on top partly because of the company's ability to submit large, complicated bids in a short period of time, she said.

"That's tough to do," she said. "They are a great company. They are an up-and-comer."

ITS was among 10 companies to win the large contract, known as Millennia Lite, late last month.

Among other things, the contract will involve operating and maintaining computer networks for federal agencies.

Government clients make up 100% of ITS' clientele, which might seem like the business strategy equivalent of shooting ducks in a barrel. But competition is fierce.

Thousands of companies market their services to government agencies. And getting a large government contract like Millennia Lite only narrows the competition for government jobs.

"Nothing is guaranteed in the federal government-contracting environment," said Rosanne Carranza, ITS' vice president of business development.

ITS still has to demonstrate to the Feds that its services are better than the other 10 companies that also won the contract.

"It's almost like a hunting license," said General Services Administration spokesman Bill Bearden. Business "doesn't just walk in the door because you've got the contract."

Still, ITS executives are thrilled. Crothers said the company is already working to secure between $300 million and $600 million in new government jobs, thanks to the contract.

And Carranza said the company shouldn't have trouble keeping up with demand.

"We doubled our company last year without a hitch," she said.

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