Reports Fantastic 50

ITA, a defense contractor, is Virginia’s fastest-growing company

Roosevelt quote formed company philosophy

  •  | 
Print this page by Joan Tupponce

The letter’s “ITA” in Michael Melo’s company, ITA International, stand for “in the arena,” a phrase President Theodore Roosevelt made famous in a speech given 100 years ago. For years, an inspiring paragraph from that speech hung in a frame in the office of Melo’s father, a retired Air Force fighter pilot.

Speaking to an audience at the Sorbonne in Paris, Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

“My dad is a hero of mine,” Melo explains. “I had the quote as my philosophy in the military and now I have it in my company.” ITA International’s motto is “serving those in the arena.”

Melo’s own 23 years in the U.S. Navy were a great training ground for the CEO of the Yorktown-based company. “It’s where I learned how to plan and execute,” he says.

ITA provides training, consulting, program management and staff support functions to the military, government agencies and large defense contractors. The company is currently trying to diversify into the commercial market sector as well as state and local agencies.

Melo and his wife, Kathy, who serves as senior vice president, founded ITA in 2000. In 2005, Melo landed a U.S. Navy contract doing mission analysis for anti-terrorism force protection for Navy bases. “If I could get one job, I knew I could be successful,” he says. “A month later I was approached to do some more analysis work for the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.”

From 2005 through 2008, the company’s revenue soared 5,779 percent, landing ITA in the top spot for the Fantastic 50 and making it No. 19 on Inc. magazine’s Inc. 500, an annual ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in America. The company now has 104 employees. “I never thought it would grow that quickly,” Melo says. 

What's Trending

See All Trending →

showhide shortcuts