Recently, NS Software Services won a major contract with the federal government. In fact, they have five years of research and development for the U.S. Navy lined up ahead of them. Although they’ve been performing on government contracts for the last 25 years, the key to their success is no secret. All it took was persistence, dedication, and well-developed expertise.
From Government to Private Sector
In 1992, Nelson Stiltner was retired from both working in the military and civil service. Ready to make a jump to the private sector, he founded NS Software Services in Pensacola, Fla. Back when he served in the Air Force, he conducted metrology calibration. To put it in simpler terms, he made sure that complex equipment used for various measurements was on point and accurate. From his work experience, he knew that there was a need for his expertise in the federal marketplace.
“I know when we started, I can’t imagine how many proposals we put into the government before we won one,” says Nelson. His start as a government contractor isn’t too different many others who found success in this sector. Sometimes they might luck out and win their first bid. Most of the times it takes a constant pursuit of opportunities.
What mattered though, was that Nelson stayed consistent and kept tossing his hat in the ring. He eventually won a contract with the GSA, and the Past Performance he had developed created a snowball effect. Since then, NS Software Services has gone on to carry out work with all four branches of the U.S. military. During the last 12 years, they had worked from contract to contract from both the Marine Corps and Navy.
Staying Compliant in SAM.gov
“When Nelson came to us, his registrations were completely in disarray and he knew that he had this opportunity coming,” says Senior Acquisition Specialist Brian Lewis. An important part of working with the U.S. federal government in the last eight years has been keeping a compliant SAM registration. Without it, a business cannot compete for government contracts. If it expires while they are performing on a job, they would also face delays in payment.
“So he asked that I do this as quickly as possible,” says Brian, “we ran into hurdle after hurdle, but we were finally able to get it straightened out and up to date.”
To help get everything compliant, Director of Case Managment Jessica Summers worked on NS Software Service’s SAM registration. The business had a name change, but they also had an open federal contract listed under their previous name. The clock for their registration was ticking.
“We had to get the name updated on his existing contract through a novation agreement,” says Jessica, “when changes occur and action is required, it is not always easy to get ahold of the right person in that agency to resolve these types of issues.”
Through making various phone calls and finding the right contracting officer, Jessica was able to keep NS Software Services compliant in SAM registration and stay active in the federal marketplace. It’s important for contractors to keep track of new FAR requirements, NAICS code updates, and point of contact changes throughout the year. All of these factors and more have to be reflected in the renewal in order for it to be compliant.
“I would recommend your company highly because they know the right people,” says Nelson, “if you try to do it yourself, you may be successful, but it will take you a lot longer.”
5 Years of Work Ahead
In government contracting, opportunities go through a life cycle. For those unfamiliar, a request for information or “RFI” is issued by government agencies to test the waters in the federal marketplace. At this phase, they want to gauge interest and see if there are any qualified vendors who can provide the product or service they are looking for. The most recent contract that NS Software Services had won started out as an RFI two years ago and they kept following through with it.
The research and development work that NS Software Services will be conducting of the Navy involves magnetics. Besides being primarily involved with metrology calibration, the veteran-owned small business also carries out work with various sensors that pick up different signals as well as artificial intelligence. Recently, the business has begun to branch out to offer cybersecurity services.
With 25 years working as a government contractor, Nelson’s main advice for those looking into the sector is pretty simple.
“Primarily have the expertise and the good writing capability to put forth the proposal that the government is looking for,” he says.