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In 1992, Dionisio Ortiz --a young New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent-- arrived on the island to work at the Puerto Rico Medical Center as Assistant Director of Information. He had never stepped foot in the facilities, as the job interview had taken place over the phone.
“When I went to the Information Systems Department I noticed they had one of those old IBM Mainframes,” Dionisio says with a laugh. “I had only seen them in books.”
The hospital had an approved $2 million budget to update all information systems, including migration of trauma, industrial, emergency and radiology records, among others. Four years later, Johnson & Johnson executives took notice of the young man’s expertise and made him an offer he couldn’t resist. For the next five years, Dio --as his friends and family call him-- worked from home for the company as an International Information Technology Consultant for the Caribbean and Latin-American regions.
“The experience opened my eyes and I said to myself, ‘I can do this on my own’,” the entrepreneur says. “I then said to my wife, ‘all I need are studies in Business Administration’, and that encouraged me to go back to school.
Dio, who already had degrees in Architecture and Computer Sciences from the City College of New York, enrolled in the University of the Sacred Heart in Santurce and obtained additional credits in Business Administration. In October 2001, with the full support of his wife, he founded Corporate Development Solutions Inc., dedicated to the implementation of high-tech communications systems.
The company’s first test was several months prior to 9/11, when CDS was hired to renovate American Airlines’ analog network to a completely new digital wide area network, and to reinstall all electrical infrastructure and telecommunications transparent to day-to-day flight operations in Puerto Rico, St. Croix and St. Thomas. Later, the Caribbean division of Lloyd Electrical Company selected CDS as a subcontractor for the Department of Homeland Security during the implementation of new security system measures at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport and at U.S. Virgin Islands airports.
“This jumpstarted us like you wouldn’t believe,” Dionisio says. “It was the trampoline that got us going. About 750 companies were hired nationwide to do the work. Only 11 made the deadline, and we were one of them.”
In 2005, CCLD Technologies & PS Splicing subcontracted CDS for Bellsouth, to support the outside telecommunications plant rebuilding efforts required after hurricane Katrina pummeled New Orleans, and once again hired CDS to rebuild Bellsouth’s telecommunications infrastructure in Florida after hurricane Wilma - the first time a Puerto Rican-based company was asked to mobilize state-side for this type of work.
Several years later, at a Government Contracting Matchmaking event the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands district office cosponsored with the Puerto Rico Professional College of Engineers and Land Surveyors, Dio learned all about the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program, which provides eligible socially and economically disadvantaged firms with growth opportunities through federal contracts. Dio immediately began the application process, obtaining certification in 2009.
“After you’re accepted into the program, it really does open a lot of doors,” he says. “The 8(a) program was the vehicle for me to get in the game.”
Today, with more than 35 years of experience, Dio has raised the bar in the Caribbean region by providing highly sophisticated Information Technology infrastructure installation and solution services for such federal agencies as Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, U.S. Air National Guard and the Disaster Recovery Division of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The entrepreneur attributes great part of the company’s success to a very dedicated support staff among which he counts Senior Project Manager Mario Figueroa, Senior Account Executive Janice Luciano, Account Executive Edna Miranda, and Inspector Carmen Saráchaga.
“Without their contributions, we would not be where we are today; they are an integral part of our success story,” Dio declares.
Flexibility and careful understanding of customer needs have enabled the company to provide its services and expertise in various markets including the public sector, and in the fields of Communications, Hospitality, Construction, and Healthcare, as well as the Airline industry. With a growing reputation of excellence in workmanship and positive results, CDS has completed numerous projects not only in Puerto Rico, but also throughout the Caribbean at locations including St. Vincent’s, Grenada, Canounan Island, Mexico, St. Thomas and St. Croix.
“There have been times when we’ve had to say ‘thank-you, but not right now’ because we’ve had too much work,” says Dio. “We’re a little conservative that way. You shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew. Don’t Burn your bridges, so they’ll call you back.”
With 30 employees and annual sales of nearly $1.3 million, CDS has succeeded in establishing a serious presence in the Caribbean region as the number one provider that diversified companies can reach out to when in need of secure Information Technology systems.
“My greatest satisfaction is putting people to work and helping provide for their families,” the businessman concludes.
For more information on SBA programs and services, visit http://www.sba.gov/pr.