Government Contacting Q/A: Starting Anew
Dear Mr. Erickson,
I was very intrigued by the first article I read on Military.com and even more so when I saw this last one with Q/A. I look forward to further installments and will be purchasing the book.
I am a retired Marine as well (SSGT-2006), enlisted aircrew on CH-46's and MV-22, currently working for a large Aviation company as a QA/QC and safety rep with new Army Chinooks.
I ran my own manufacturing and service company for many years, much of which paralleled the later part of my career. It met its demise in 2008 as the economy folded. I miss being an entrepreneur and long to be in business for myself again. I am working toward a degree in Occupational Safety & Health and Environmental Engineering and in the process of establishing a safety training and consulting company. I have been developing some safety-related items and would like to market them to the Army and other agencies and companies, as well as market my services. Your articles not only strengthened my motivation and determination but added another avenue of diversity to the company by pursuing government contracts. I would also meet the criteria for SDVOSB [Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business] which seems like a great advantage.
Thanks for writing... You retired out of Marine Corps aviation; so did I. I retired from Marine Air Traffic Control Chief duties in 1998, and then went to work at NAVAIR-Patuxent River, MD on their MATCALS, ATCALS, ASPARCS, ATNAVIC, and other programs. Then I transitioned into civil aviation, focusing primarily on Controller-Pilot Data Link (CPDLC) Communications, Aeronautical Telecommunications Network-ATN, and supporting cockpit design of Communications Management Units (CMU)... while leading Airline Electronic Engineering Committee (AEEC) Data Link Systems SC. I used my decades of military experience to better my approach to Mlitary Contracting Officers.You can do the same.
Your Occupational Safety & Health, and Environmental Engineering studies at College will be very useful to you for future government contracting. There are a lot of contract opportunities in these fields. For example, the FAA is announcing numerous contracts (mostly out of the DoT Tech Center in Atlantic City, NJ and the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center-MMAC in Oklahoma City) for man-machine studies, ergonomics, sleep studies, safety within maintenance management, and many others. Further, as the FAA moves towards upgrade of all their ATC facilities nationwide, there will be growing need for environmental engineering aspects uniquely tailored to each facility.
Your background in QA/QC is desparately needed for every defense contract, and your continued pursuit of government contracts under your own umbrella is a good way to augment your transition towards company ownership and management. Why should you be paid as a QA/QC Specialist by a larger company, when you can create your own small business and offer your company QA/QC capabilities directly to the government (or through another larger teammate)? That would give you greater opportunity to lead and manage programs, instead of just being an important specialist on someone elses team.
If you can create your company with SDVOSB classifications, your company will become the "belle of the ball" to alot of larger corporations that need small business participation on their contracts, and/or give you opportunity to be prime contractor on the small business set-aside contracts. Then the larger corporations will come knocking on your door. There is a reasonably large percentage (about 10 percent) of all contracts that must be awarded to SDVOSB and VOSB companies as set-asides. Further, the government sometimes gives price discount advantage to SDVOSB/VOSB companies, allowing you to capture contracts that you were not the cheapest bidder for (e.g. PERCY Act). Additionally, as a former military serviceman with direct hands-on expertise, you will find it much easier to demonstrate best value on contracts (the military does not always have to award to the lowest-priced bidder) when you will be able to show a healthier risk-averse proposal based upon your unique military experience.
All of these factors will help you considerably. I am sorry your previous personally-owned company fell upon hard times. However, we all stumble and fall. It is what we do after the fall that matters most. Use that past experience, get up from the ground, and start running again. We only lose, when we stop trying.
Michael J. Erickson, USMC-Retired
President, Aviation Management Inc., LLC (AMI)