Robbins-Gioia gets ready for the world

Officials at Robbins-Gioia LLC, a consulting firm in Alexandria, Va., are preparing to become part of the Institute for International Research (IIR) in an acquisition that will give the firm access to global commercial markets.

The company, which has a reputation for being a project management consultant for federal agencies, is ready to branch out, said Jim Leto, president and chief executive officer of Robbins-Gioia. He will stay on as CEO after the transaction, he said.

"They're in 40 countries," Leto said of IIR. "We're not. This allows accelerated growth in markets we otherwise wouldn't have invested in."

Robbins-Gioia officials are also planning to court the commercial market, where the company has a minimal presence, Leto said. They concentrated on government for the past few years because that was where the prime business opportunities were, he said.

The dynamics are shifting now, Leto said, and commercial businesses are again spending money on services they might once have let pass. "In the next year or

two, the commercial market is going to be target-rich as well," he said.

Current Robbins-Gioia clients will continue to receive good service, Leto said.

"We focused almost all of our attention on the government," he said. "That's going to change."

IIR buys well-respected brand-name companies and allows them continue to operate in the same manner, said CEO Christopher Marbury. IIR gets a share of the revenue, while the acquired firm gets the institute's backing and access to other markets.

IIR has no headquarters, he said. Its financial operations are in Amsterdam, while Marbury is based in New York City.

The deal began to take shape after Marbury met Eric Gioia, Robbins-Gioia's executive vice president of business development, at the Arlington, Va., headquarters of ESI International. IIR has owned ESI, a project and contract management training and consulting services firm, for several years. ESI is also a long-standing Robbins-Gioia partner.

The sale price was not disclosed.

With Leto keeping in his CEO position, the firm will become stronger and more aggressive, predicted Dan Young, former president and CEO of systems integrator Federal Data Corp. Now retired and sitting on the boards of several companies, he said the acquisition will give the firm a broader reach.

"It would be my guess that Jim's going to have more resources than he did before," Young said. "Not only the resources, but the connections globally that Robbins-Gioia hasn't had. The new buyer is very focused internationally. There's going to be a new mind-set."

He said he knows Leto and other Robbins-Gioia executives well enough to know that they saw the transaction as a step forward. "I'm sure they wouldn't have done it if they hadn't been excited," Young said.


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