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December 1, 1999
Deepak Hathiramani's Simple Secret
Nitish S Rele
By any reckoning, Deepak Hathiramani's Vistronix Inc is a success. Washington Technology recently named it the fastest growing company in the region. INC magazine has ranked it No 115 of the fastest-growing private companies in America.
With a five-year growth rate of more than 14,000 per cent, from $ 75,425 in 1994 to $ 11 million in 1998, Vistronix Inc, which has 290 employees, is one of the most profiled companies in the Washington area.
The IT and professional and technical services firm, based in Vienna, Virginia, combines the digital world with the analog, the movement of bits and bytes in systems integration and engineering with the more mundane movement of postal mail, furniture and limousines.
Hathiramani, president and CEO of the company, is certainly proud of the technological innovations at his firm. But it is people who holds the keys to the success of his firm, he says.
He says he is seeking the best available talent for every position in his company.
"We believe that only the best people can implement the best solutions," he says. "We value our people -- and they stay at Vistronix."
"We really started accelerating in the last two-three years," said Hathiramani, adding that 75 per cent of Vistronix clients are federal, 20 per cent are state and five per cent locals. Though the company is rapidly expanding, up to 50 per cent of it's revenue continues to come from referrals, renewals and contract extensions, he says.
"We are constantly looking at new business models and realize that we have to change with the information technology market," said Hathiramani.
The technical services firm's achievements are directly related to its management philosophy and approach. "Managers at each levels are delegated requisite authority commensurate with their corporate and project responsibilities," said Hathiramani.
"The appropriate management authority combined with short, direct lines of communication to the corporate executive office enables us to provide customers with responsible and cost-effective support."
The company also includes state and local governments among its clients, including Virginia's Arlington County and Prince William County Public Schools and Maryland's departments of Assessments and Taxation, Education, and Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
Part of its success is because of fruitful subcontracting relationships with the likes of BDM Federal, Booz-Allen and Hamilton Inc, IBM Corp and Unisys Corp.
Hathiramani was born in 1962 in Nigeria. His family moved shortly to Cameroon, a French colony, before settling in Bombay. He went to Dunne's Institute, a Cambridge school, and then attended Jain College and Xavier's College, graduating in mathematics and physics.
He also earned a diploma in business management and industrial administration from the Delhi Institute of Management Services.
Hathiramani attended the University of Texas at Austin for a bachelor's degree in computer science and took up a job as a staff programmer at Cinnabar Software in Austin. "It was a great learning experience though the company fell flat on the face," he says with regret.
The job loss led Hathiramani to Herndon, Virginia to work as a software engineer/consultant with Netrix Corporation, which developed, manufactured and marketed wide-area network communication products.
"We were doing business of $ 30 million but Netrix didn't click either," he said.
He was tired of working for others.
Having come from a business family in Bombay, he could not resist starting his own business.
Hathiramani, the only graduate in his family, launched Vistronix in 1990 but the company really started pushing business in 1992.
"Since then, it's been a fun, roller coaster," he said. "We have come a long way and do have an exit plan in the next three-four years."
The biggest challenge he faces presently is balancing work and family. Hathiramani has a nine-year-old boy, Vishal, and 2 1/2-year-old twin boys, Sahar and Sabir. "All credit goes to my wife Hansa who I met at Dunne's Institute," he says. "I try to spend as much time as I can with my family. My wife once told me that it's easier to be an entrepreneur than an entrepreneur's wife."
Hathiramani underwent a major lifestyle change nearly nine years ago.
"I turned vegetarian," he said. "I was looking for a change. It was hard because of the mental perception of vegetarian food not being readily found in the United States. But I cannot complain."
What is his work ethos?
"Establish your priorities, set a course and stick to it," he says.
"Family support is essential for being successful. Managing growth has been a challenge but fun. The biggest challenge is to change, change myself."
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