Issue: December 2009
FIT Resources has learned its growth lessons and is making the grade with additional services and offerings.
that came with launching SchoolOne. During the early 2000s, they were burning up to $100,000 a month to start the software development company for K-12 schools. And just when the co-founders thought they had a key investment deal in place, it popped like a first-grader’s chewing gum when the tech bubble burst.
So the duo worked without a salary until they got their company’s expenses under control and found enough angel investors — $50,000 and $75,000 at a time — to keep the business going.
Their sacrifices and hard work during the lean times has paid off as the company has grown and expanded: FIT Resources, the umbrella company over SchoolOne, now employs 120 and has annual revenues of $17 million. In addition to the original SchoolOne business, the FIT Technologies division provides IT services to corporate clients, and its Campus Outfitters division sells school uniforms.
Founders: Michelle Tomallo and Micki Tubbs
FIT began offering school uniforms following its acquisition of Campus Outfitters. The corporate IT business arose out of talent acquisition.
“We’ve grown the business by the relationships we’ve had with our clients,” says Tomallo, who serves as the company’s executive vice president.
FIT Technologies has been working with Brokaw Advertising in Cleveland since June, for example. The creative agency had been flooded with spam e-mails, which was straining the agency’s servers. So FIT Technologies introduced a filtering device that has essentially eliminated Brokaw’s spam issues.
“We make sure we’re helping our clients get to where [they] want to go,” she says, “so that ensures everyone is successful.”
The move into corporate IT and school uniforms has worked as FIT has grown its revenue from $13.1 million in 2007 to $17.5 million in 2008.
This year’s economic downturn, however, means 2009 revenues will likely be at about the same level as in 2008, says Tubbs, the company’s CEO. “Opportunities are being delayed in the marketplace,” she says. “Companies are saying, ‘We still want to go forward with this, but we’ll wait another quarter.’ ”
Still, Tomallo and Tubbs are optimistic about FIT’s future. They believe $50 million in revenue is within reach.
Tomallo says she believes an upturn in the economy will occur relatively quickly. “I’m an optimistic person so I think it will be the first quarter of 2010,” she says. “And by that I mean companies that have put projects on hold will be ready to pull the trigger.”
Fueling their optimism, in part, is the work FIT has done in redeveloping its software. Academic clients, for instance, that maintain separate systems for scheduling, finance and other operations will see data updated in real time, which will cut down on manual data entry time and mistakes
Looking back on the path her company has taken, Tomallo says there are lessons to be learned.
“Cash is king,” she says. “When we started, we knew we had a great idea. But if you don’t have cash flow, you’re never going to get to where you want to be.”
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