Past performance is crucial towards winning federal contracts and you can only obtain it through working with the government. However, many newcomers to the federal marketplace have been faced with this paradoxical dilemma:
“How do I build my past performance, if I have yet to win a government contract?”
Here’s the solution.
Subcontracting and building relationships are two important factors for developing a strong foothold in the public sector. You will be able to find plenty of sources telling you this over and over again. However, with any theory, people want to see the real-world example of it playing out. The recent success of verified vendor, Butsky Cores, LLC (DUNS #032839491) working with US Federal Contractor Registration is such an example.
“It’s about being proactive on the emails back and forth, even taking a phone call letting them know that you’re just a small business trying to make it,” says owner Chris Butksy.
Building Upon a Foundation
Based out of Columbus, Ohio, Butsky Cores, LLC provides custom rubber and steel manufacturing. Some of the washers and bearings the company produces are the “size of cars,” according to Chris. The LLC formed as a joint-partnership about two years ago, when its parent company, Bridge Components Industries Inc. wanted to expand further into the federal marketplace.
Since 2007, Bridge Components Industries Inc. had carried out work for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and their infrastructure. “We lucked into it,” says Chris. Projects with the ODOT eventually grew to make up 85% of their work. Forming an entity to spearhead government contracting was how they planned on pushing this further.
As a service-disabled veteran, Chris Butsky knew they had a good lead in the public sector. His military career in the U.S. Army spans across 17 years with two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Every year, the federal government will set-aside 3% (roughly $15 billion) of its total contracting budget towards Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB). In September 2017 they started to work with US Federal Contractor Registration.
By January, the business was set-up with their registrations, set-asides, NAICS codes, and government-formatted website. In that month, they also started bidding on contracts. About 26 bids in, they didn’t get their first tick on the radar until May.
Landing the Subcontract
It was actually a subcontracting opportunity with a company called RTI, based out of Minnesota. Their task was to provide eight bearings for a bridge rebuilding project in Oregon. They got the parts together in early June and by the 3rd they received their first payment. Everything went smoothly and they were able to form a relationship with a prime contractor.
The question then remains:
How did a small business in Ohio…
work with a company in Minnesota…
…for a government contract in Oregon?
“She’s been great, she helped us get the training that we needed, she helped get everything set up, and she’s been very responsive,” says Chris Butsky about USFCR Team Captain and Senior Acquisition Specialist Marianne Swager. Working with Marianne, the business had also received a list of recommended vendors and procurement officers. They were also provided a government-formatted website and a cover letter.
“I loved working Chris because he was enthusiastic about being successful in government contracting,” says Marianne. To her, it’s important for business owners to know that it takes a commitment to learning, and taking the time to go through the process.
“Helping him find the right procurement officers to target as well as potential buyers were made much easier with the APP system,” she says, “I was able to show Chris how to use the filters to find buyers of his products in certain agencies and how to use his SDVOSB status as leverage.”
Running a business like a well-oiled machine to perform well is just one part of government contracting. Navigating the federal marketplace with a set strategy is crucial towards obtaining these opportunities in the first place.
“I really liked the marketing methodologies that you guys helped train us on and we used it to the letter,” says Chris, “that really helped.” Building relationships is one of the biggest pieces of advice Chris has for those looking to get into government contracting.
Butsky Cores Gives Back
What should also be known about Butsky Cores, LLC is their involvement with charities. Last year, they helped raise $45,000 for veterans with traumatic brain injuries through the Resurrecting Lives Foundation. This year, they are set to reach the same goal. They also help provide sundries for families taken in by Fisher House. Since 1990, the charity has provided housing for military families so that they can be close when a member has been hospitalized.
Butsky Cores, LLC is active in other charities such as the Fallen 15, and Pelotonia. Besides the owner, there are many veterans who work for the business as well. Currently, they have about 30 bids out, and the business seeks to keep pushing towards growth by obtaining more opportunities in government contracting.
“I have no doubt that there will be more in the near future,” says Marianne.