The 2017 Seven Small Jewels: Atlas Executive Consulting



Atlas Executive Consulting

Headquarters: Charleston, S.C. Additional Offices: San Diego Service Lines: Operations Management, IT, Strategy, Business Advisory Services Client Industries: Federal Government

Billable Consultants 2014: 17 2015: 34 2016: 60

Revenue (in millions) 2014: $2.3 2015: $3.2 2016: $9.9

Atlas Executive Consulting had quite a year in 2016, growing revenue some 209 percent while growing headcount by only 76 percent. How did the firm manage such impressive growth? “Reputation, quality, and price,” says George Friedl, Partner and Co-founder of the firm.

“Our customers, business partners, and staff recognize that Atlas has a reputation for delivering exceptional consultants backed by a strong commitment to their and, as importantly, to their clients’ success,” Friedl says. “This quality, when coupled with extremely disciplined cost controls, has resulted in an offering that is extremely attractive to our target market, and that has created momentum where customers want our services and great people want to work for us. The staffing and revenues have naturally followed.”

Friedl and Paul Kitchin, also a Partner and Co-Founder of Atlas, worked together at Booz Allen Hamilton on a long-term consulting engagement for the Department of the Navy. It became obvious, Kitchin says, that the working relationship the two had was very effective and that the synergies and solutions they achieved supporting clients could be transferred into their own business.

The two did just that when they launched Charleston, S.C.-based Atlas in 2006. “We recognized that the federal market was starting to favor small businesses but clients would still need the capabilities of large businesses,” Kitchin says. “Atlas would bring top tier, large consulting business processes, quality, and results but in the form of an agile, small business.”

Friedl says the two believe the federal market will provide opportunities for firms that can drive efficiencies—save money or people—and report tangible metrics to prove it. “With the recent Executive Order on a hiring freeze within the federal government, we see opportunities using technology and complementary processes to drive optimization of resources,” he says. “The traditional service delivery models within the federal marketplace will need to change to respond to the new administration’s priorities and business mindset and we see this as an opportunity for our customers to make changes that demonstrate their stewardship of resources.”

Ask Kitchin what excites him about the year ahead and  he says continuing to enhance, optimize, and simplify both internal and client facing processes through technology.  Leveraging the scale of the organization to make investments that were previously not cost effective “will connect our consultants across the firm and provide them with better tools and resources to deliver services.”

That could lead to some additional and very aggressive growth a few years down the road. Kitchin says Atlas could grow to some 120 billable consultants and $20M in revenue by 2020—effectively doubling in size from where the firm is today. “We are scaling our operations and infrastructure to in parallel with our strategic growth initiatives to accomplish this goal, and it’s achievable and if we continue the trajectory we are on we will likely exceed this,” Kitchin says.

But Friedl is all-too-aware that growth can come at a price, which is why he, and the firm, remains laser focused on quality control. “We have fantastic managers, but with engagements crossing six states it is our challenge to ensure the level of quality we are known for is maintained. “Continued growth will exacerbate this and it is something we are working hard to keep our arms around.”