Executive Spotlight: An Interview With Kevin Robinson, President and CEO of MTSI

ExecutiveBiz spoke with Kevin Robinson, president and chief executive officer, about MTSI’s projected organic growth, 2018 federal market positioning and unique culture as a fully employee-owned company.

“Becoming a 100% ESOP allows us to not only maintain, but also improve upon a package of benefits offered to employees and talented recruits … Having a workforce of employees ‘who think and act like owners’ is a key driver of our operational efficiency and overall business success.”

 ExecutiveBiz: Kevin, you have been with MTSI for over twenty years. Can you tell our readers how you have seen MTSI grow and progress in your time at the company?

Kevin Robinson: When I joined the company in 1997, we had eight people, most of whom ate lunch together every day in Alexandria, Virginia. Today, that number totals over 850 people based all over the country. From inception to present day, we have successfully focused on our number one core value of “employees come first,” leading to 24 years of consecutive organic growth. Our co-founders, Phil Soucy and Tom McMahan, built this company with an objective of having a unique culture. As we enter our 25th year, we continue to sustain that culture and add great people to the team to execute cutting-edge work to solve problems of global importance. We have been able to grow throughout the years while remaining very selective in the specialized work that we pursue. It is all about doing the right type of work for enduring success and employee engagement.

ExecutiveBiz: Last spring your company completed their employee stock ownership plan to become 100% employee-owned. What does it mean for the company to have an ESOP ownership structure?

Kevin Robinson: The plan to achieve the 100% ESOP milestone started over a decade ago. Our co-founders decided that the MTSI long-term vision to be an enduring company, with no plans to sell, was best served through an incremental transition to an employee-owned company. Other ownership transition options, such as selling the company or going public, would result in fundamental changes to the company culture, values and a loss of control. Becoming a 100% ESOP allows us to not only maintain, but also improve upon a package of benefits offered to employees and talented recruits, which is significantly better than the market average. Having a workforce of employees “who think and act like owners” is a key driver of our operational efficiency and overall business success.

ExecutiveBiz: Where do you see MTSI adding the greatest value to the federal marketplace?

Kevin Robinson: Where we add significant value is in the rapid acquisition, engineering, test and delivery of critical capabilities (often highly classified) to our warfighters and first responders.  As a company, we stay focused on delivering high-end services, subject matter expert support and integrated technology solutions with maximum mission impact. We explicitly avoid pursuing price-based, commodity services. We are currently serving key leadership roles in missile defense, advanced aviation and weapons, unmanned and autonomous systems, cyber security and open-architecture, cloud-based software development for a diverse set of Defense Department, intelligence community, and commercial aerospace customers (over 120 separate contracts). A big reason why we recently scored in the top 1.5% of benchmark companies for employee engagement is that our people care deeply about the critical missions they are involved in every day.

ExecutiveBiz: What are some of the more significant technological trends the federal market will be facing?

Kevin Robinson: Immediately, I think of autonomous system development and a customer push towards open architectures/mission systems and cloud integration. An exciting project that MTSI is involved in right now is our role as flight test lead for the Airbus A3 Vahana project, an unmanned, on-demand mobility vehicle for transporting people in congested urban areas. Also, customers are taking steps to fundamentally change the way they develop, test and field mission critical software products on deployed systems and networks. This presents a strategic opportunity for MTSI to design, test and deliver secure software solutions in a cloud-based environment where previously the competition was dominated by the large original equipment manufacturers that owned and controlled the development infrastructure.

ExecutiveBiz: How is 2018 looking for MTSI?

Kevin Robinson: We expect to have another very positive year in 2018. Our budget projects another 15% of organic growth and more than $200 million in annual revenue. The DoD and IC markets we serve are expanding and customers are placing an increased importance in procuring the differentiated services and solutions we are known for. We will continue to invest resources internally with a focus on sustaining MTSI as a best place to work. Long-term success is more important to us than short-term earnings. This year is also our 25th anniversary And we plan to make time to celebrate at our offices across the country and thank our many loyal customers and industry partners.

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Having joined MTSI in 1997, Kevin Robinson has helped the company secure more than $100 million in annual revenue, seeing it triple in size from 2008 to 2013. Robinson served as vice president of strategic development prior to being named president and CEO.


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