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ODU Graduate's Consutling Company, ITA International, Recognized as Virginia's Fastest-Growing Private Firm

A company started by an Old Dominion University master's graduate has been selected as the top private firm in the state in the Virginia Chamber of Commerce's "Fantastic 50," an elite group of the 50 fastest-growing companies in the commonwealth.

Mike Melo '93, a U.S. Navy veteran who received a master's degree in sport management from ODU, and headed the school's Troops to Teachers program for three years, started ITA International LLC in 2005.

A Yorktown-based company that provides training, consulting, program management and staff support functions to the military, government agencies and large defense contractors, ITA International has grown dramatically, increasing in size by 5,800 percent in four years.

Melo's company now employs 104, providing turnkey solutions for the military, defense contractor startups and private companies such as Shell Oil.

"We support our various clients by 'task organizing' the ITA team to meet that specific client's needs," said Melo, who serves as the company's president and CEO. "Our team is comprised of highly qualified personnel with diverse backgrounds, which allows us to develop innovative solution sets even in a resource-constrained environment."

Melo was feted in Richmond last month at a dinner honoring the Fantastic 50 companies. "It was incredible to be in a room with all of those talented, brilliant entrepreneurs. There was just an incredible energy," he said.

Melo's contemporaries must have felt the same energy from him. ITA International also finished in 19th place in Inc. magazine's 28th annual Inc. 500, an exclusive ranking of the nation's fastest-growing private companies. The list represents the most comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy - America's independent-minded entrepreneurs.

After earning a degree in forestry from Virginia Tech, Melo was commissioned in the Navy. Deployed in various locations, he decided to pursue a master's in sport management from ODU when he was stationed in Hampton Roads. "Sports was a passion. I was doing management work in the Navy. Sport management offered a broad-brush perspective of management."

Melo said he loved his time at ODU. When he retired from the Navy he returned to ODU and ran Troops to Teachers, housed at the university's Darden College of Education, from 2002-05 until launching ITA International in August 2005.

"I also learned the capabilities of the university itself by working there," he said.

Several of the contracts Melo has received have resulted in work for ODU researchers and enterprise centers. "I've probably sent a couple of million dollars their way," Melo laughed. "But there's a reason for that. ODU is a real hub of talented, energetic, smart people.

"My time there really opened up my experience, and helped with many of the opportunities I have today.

"I would just like to say 'thanks' to everyone that helped ITA achieve this award."

This article was posted on: May 20, 2010

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