MIlitary Contracts: Steady Revenue in Tough Times
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Reyes says, laughing. Although he had to reduce his bid price slightly to win the contract, he says it was worth it to get Rapid’s foot in the door. “We had to look at this military job as part of our long-term business plan,” Reyes says. “We knew that if we didn’t budge on our price, the bidding process could take another year, so we decided it was smarter to be flexible and build up a relationship with the military, and hopefully that would open up more doors for us in the future.” Reyes likens the bidding process to filing your taxes. “It’s a lot of reading and paperwork, but it’s definitely doable.”
For newcomers looking to get into the military system, whether it’s on the food, technology or construction side, Zambo-Fan says find out what your company needs to do before it can do business with the federal government. Find out where you need to be registered and get those preliminary things done first, she says. “Call the different agencies, or find someone who’s completed the process before and have them walk you through it.”
The next step, Zambo-Fan says, is to familiarize yourself with how the different military agencies function. “You have to understand that you’re playing by a new set of rules,” she says.
For food, that means vendors are responsible for fully servicing their products — monitoring deliveries, following proper food-safety protocol, merchandising and doing product demonstrations.
On the construction side, Actus’ Gray says the workflow on a large neighborhood project is significantly different for workers who are accustomed to building one house at a time. “The work is more like a big assembly line,” he says. “We could have up to 800 workers a day, so deadlines are extremely important.” But, he says, once you get familiar with the environment, it’s like any other construction site.
The Chamber of Commerce’s Ota says military partnerships have helped many local companies profit and build their brands. “Take Hawaiian Host, for example,” Ota says. “They’re big time, and they started off as a small little company, too. The bottom line is: We need the military and the military needs us. If you’re a small business out there that can provide quality and service, this is definitely the place you want to be. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling cookies or if you’re a skilled laborer. The military adds balance to any company.”
Useful Web sites and resources:
Defense Commissary Agency:
American Logistics Association:
Central Contractor Registry (to register to sell to the federal government):
Actus Lend Lease:
Favorite Foods of Hawaii:
Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii:
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