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October 15, 2012

Training Associates' 'Broad Bank Of Resources' Has Global Reach

PHOTO/EMILY MICUCCI Vic Melfa (with his daughter, Maria Bolstad Barrett): “More big companies found out about us, so we got big contracts.”

The Training Associates, an IT and business professional skills training firm in Westborough, is a family-owned business with a global reach, and in light of skyrocketing sales the last three years, it's showing no signs of slowing down.

"We're the largest provider of IT trainers in the world, and we do it faster than everybody else, we do it less expensively than everybody else, and we do it with better quality," said Vic Melfa, CEO and co-founder.

Between 2009 and 2011, the company's revenue jumped from $15,632,337 to $54,885,119, a 251-percent increase, earning it the No. 2 spot on our Top Growth list of private companies for 2012.

In 2012, sales are at $64 million.Melfa said the reason for the massive growth coming out of The Great Recession is simple.

"More big companies found out about us, so we got big contracts," Melfa said.

With about 500 customers worldwide, The Training Associates just deployed its largest-ever group of trainers as part of its newly generated business. Five-hundred trainers, who work for the company on a contract basis, were assigned to a training job for a Fortune 100 company.

Melfa expects more of the same, as businesses constantly seek to improve their technology and employee productivity to save money.

"Productivity increases profits," he said.

Melfa knows a thing or two about running a productive business. He has spent his career in the computer industry, and formerly owned a computer product distribution company, which had a training division. In 1994, he decided to launch The Training Associates with his daughter, Maria Bolstad Barrett, who is president of the company. The idea was to offer IT training by certified Microsoft trainers, though services expanded to include training for an array of software and business professional skills over the years.

"We decided the most important thing was the people, the human capital," Melfa said.

Today, the company employs 100 staff members and 25,000 contract trainers. Aside from Westborough, it has offices in Switzerland, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

The Training Associates has certainly earned a top-notch reputation in the training industry, according to Nancy Giard, co-president of the Boston chapter of the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). The company, which is a financial sponsor of the ASTD, is known for its quick response to service calls, which is crucial when a client is under a tight deadline.

"Businesswise, I feel like they have a broad bank of resources they can pull from to deliver the training solution for me pretty quickly," Giard said.

And she's not surprised the company has seen such rapid growth in recent years. The fact that companies are recovering from the recession is driving more training for new and existing employees, according to Giard.

As the company gains steam, Melfa and Bolstad Barrett are in talks with a private equity firm about securing money to hire new employees. That's in addition to the 55 it added to the staff from 2009 and 2011. They'll have to expand their Westborough office to accommodate the growth, but Melfa said the headquarters will stay in town for the foreseeable future.

The Training Associates should be able to support more employees just fine. Melfa expects annual revenue growth of about 50 percent, and expects annual revenue to reach $500 million in five years.

Bolstad Barrett, who has been working in the family business since age 14, said the company's family culture is pervasive, even as sales soar and its global presence increases. And that's important, she said, because employees are happy to be there.

"We're very fortunate to have a great group of people that help us do what we do," Bolstad Barrett said.

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