Teamwork divides the task and multiplies success. This axiom is the fulcrum of the South Carolina Small Business Development Center’s (SC SBDC) commitment to better serve client needs. At the tactical level, the SC SBDC catalyzes this strategy by operating as a cohesive network, providing clients access to the combined business wisdom of 51 professionals located throughout the state. This collaborative approach enables the SC SBDC to align consultant expertise with client needs, share best practices and expand its wellspring of resources. Recently three consultants from the Charleston Area SBDC collectively devoted more than 30 counseling hours to seamlessly deliver a full range of services to MillerWilson Consulting (MWC). Their spirited, synchronized campaign exemplifies the heightened capabilities generated by a team working toward a common goal.
In 2015, compelled by his ambition to win a $13 million government award, MWC Contracts Director Jason Langley contacted Linda Blanton for help fine-tuning the cost narrative section of MWC’s first prime contractor proposal. Blanton, the SC SBDC’s government procurement consultant under the Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAC) and former contracts manager for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), thoroughly reviewed the entire proposal and – plying both her expertise and prior experience – ensured the document was RFP compliant. As the benefactor of Linda’s fluency and diligence, MWC continued soliciting her input on a miscellany of business challenges such as writing a sole-source justification, understanding Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clauses, meeting key contacts in high-profile government agencies and differentiating prime contractors from sub-contractors.
While Linda was busy helping the client win $1.3 million in two separate SPAWAR contracts, Dr. Jim Wasson, the SC SBDC’s technology commercialization business consultant, was simultaneously wrangling with MWC’s government contracting imperatives. Prior to working with the Charleston Area SBDC, the client submitted an SBIR proposal to a DoD-affiliated agency which rejected the bid. Disappointed by this turn of events, MWC asked Jim to review and critique the rejected proposal. Having spent 35 years as a government contractor, Jim was able to provide the client astute, experienced-based feedback. MWC wasted no time making his suggested revisions. The reconstructed proposal was a comprehensive, polished document that not only conveyed MWC’s solid-foundation; but it also underscored the company’s ability to manage multi-million dollar government contracts. Wasson further sharpened MWC’s competitive edge by appraising its contract audits, fulfilling registration requirements and parlaying the client’s Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business (SDVOB) status to bid on government contracts specifically set aside for businesses owned/controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
In August 2016, Blanton and Wasson recruited business consultant Darrell Jones – a former lender and credit analyst – to enrich the array of core competencies provided by the Charleston Area SBDC consulting team. The formidable trio then employed a ‘divide and conquer’ technique when responding to the client’s ever-growing, multi-faceted list of demands. Jones, in addition to contributing his financial acumen, fortified the team by cultivating partnerships among the Lowcountry’s banking community. “I consider the time I spend forging these relationships a sound investment,” Jones said. “In fact, I view these alliances as tangible commodities which I can leverage to benefit our clients.”
Jones validated this theory when MWC requested his support with securing a $1 million line of credit. Despite being confident of its bids on two separate government contracts totaling nearly $43 million, MWC required an infusion of capital to sustain operations while it awaits reimbursement from the government. Jones worked closely with the client to prepare and assemble a business overview, project request, balance sheet, income statement, debt schedule and tax returns. When satisfied that the client’s packet could withstand the scrutiny of a loan officer, Jones then personally submitted the application to his contacts at three financial institutions. This savvy move has not only increased the likelihood of the loan being approved, but it also has compelled the banks to lower their interest rates as they vie for the client’s business.
In addition to grooming MWC’s commercial loan application, Jones explained the numerous financing programs offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). On the client’s behalf, Jones assessed the viability of several funding resources. He then informed Langley that, based on criteria, MWC may qualify for a CAPline loan – a loan designed specifically to help small businesses meet their short-term working capital needs.
Pleased with Darrell’s contributions, the client expressed his gratitude. “Thank you Darrell for all your efforts in preparing options for MWC to obtain the necessary line of credit we’ll need post-award. I’m still amazed that your consulting services are free of charge,” said Langley.
In light of the two contracts awarded by SPAWAR and the likelihood the company also will win the two additional government contracts currently pending, MWC added five employees to its South Carolina-based staff. To acknowledge these accomplishments as well as for strengthening the economic fabric of the local community, the Charleston Area SBDC recently selected MillerWilson Consulting to receive its inaugural “Entrepreneur of the Year” award. This distinction recognizes the tenacity and fearlessness small business owners must summon every day as they valiantly strive to achieve their vision.
As for the indefatigable trio of Blanton, Wasson and Jones, their collaboration illustrates what can be achieved when individuals – united under the banner of a common goal – selflessly support the concept of team and are resolute in their commitment to exceeding client expectations. As Woodrow Wilson humbly expressed: “I use not only all the brains I have, but all I can borrow.”