In the late 1980’s, Craig Hartzell had a desire to create a company that could successfully compete for- and win- Department of Defense contracts. The U.S. Army Special Forces veteran was aware there were business opportunities with the military and that no West Virginia companies were doing so at the time. He also knew it would take an extraordinary effort because West Virginia’s economy was considered resource-based and not technology-based.
But through his persistence and leadership abilities, Azimuth, Incorporated was created which resulted in Hartzell, the company’s president and CEO, being named West Virginia’s 2010 Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Hartzell will be honored at the annual West Virginia Small Business Awards luncheon on Thursday, May 13, 2010 at the Tamarack Conference Center in Beckley. He will also be recognized at the 47th annual National Small Business Week gala in Washington DC on Tuesday, May 25, 2010, where Hartzell will learn whether his name will be called as the National Small Business Person of the Year.
Azimuth specializes in engineering, fabrication and engineering services in support of the U.S. Department of Defense. Hartzell as the founder and first full time employee of Azimuth has over thirty years of experience in the fields of electronic communications, special operations and business management.
Hartzell realized in order to be successful, he had to create a company that could win contracts, provide outstanding support and build a solid reputation. He wanted a company that incorporated sound ethical principles, customer loyalty, and the highest standard of integrity and honesty. Although Azimuth is known by these principles today, they didn’t evolve without overcoming several obstacles.
Hartzell found he was competing for contracts with larger, well-established companies and coming up short. He realized what he needed was more experience and some clout. To overcome this disadvantage he entered into a Department of Defense Mentor/Protégé Program with Electronic Warfare Associates, (EWA) Inc., a large prime contractor for the DoD, serving as Azimuth’s corporate mentor. This association led to Azimuth’s first contract of $79,000 which allowed Hartzell to hire his first employees. It also provided Hartzell with some of the tools and experience he needed to build a solid performance core.
With a Mentor/Protégé agreement in place, Azimuth seemed to be on the right path to win government contracts. However, Hartzell soon realized the company lacked the necessary capital to meet the financial challenges of successful contract bidding. A loan through SBA’s 7(a) guaranty loan program was secured through a local lender that helped alleviate some of the initial funding issues. More frequent contract awards led to the need of another SBA-guaranteed loan. Hartzell credits the receipt of those two loans as being absolutely critical to the initial survival of Azimuth.
Through all of these efforts, Azimuth has evolved into a reputable defense contractor of nearly 100 employees operating in four facilities in West Virginia – two in Morgantown and two in Fairmont – and in satellite locations in Maryland, Virginia, Florida and North Carolina.
West Virginia SBA Director Judy McCauley said Hartzell epitomizes the criteria for the Small Business Person award and is an excellent representative for small business success in West Virginia.
Hartzell was nominated by Sharon Stratton, center manager for the West Virginia Small Business Development Center in Morgantown.
Also being honored at the 2010 West Virginia Small Business Awards Celebration on May 13th event are: Jalon “Jay” Petre, president of Renick Millworks, LLC, Renick as SBA Young Entrepreneur; C. Thomas and Rosemary Grant from First Choice Bookkeeping, Inc. in Huntington as Financial Services Champions; Diane Lewis, president of Action Facilities Management in Morgantown as Minority Small Business Champion; Kara Gray, owner of New Horizon Consulting in Dallas as Women in Business Champion; Scott M. Hedges, president & CEO and Michael J. Grady, vice president from Power Sonix, Inc. in Martinsburg as Small Business Exporters; and David M. Hughes, John M. Hughes and Fletcher G. Herold, Jr. from L.J. Hughes & Sons, Inc. in Summersville as *Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Small Business. (*L.J. Hughes & Sons, Inc. also received this award for SBA Region III which includes Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.)
Kathy Clinton, president and owner of Performance Results Corporation (PRC), headquartered in Morgantown, W.Va., was recognized as West Virginia’s 2009 Minority Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) at the 2009 Mid-Atlantic SBIR/STTR Conference on Tuesday, December 1, 2009.
“The presentation of this prestigious award affords us the opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of not only an outstanding entrepreneur, but the minority small business community as well,” said SBA West Virginia District Director Judy K. McCauley. “PRC, a SBA 8(a) certified, small disadvantaged business, has accomplished tremendous business growth as a participant in the 8(a) program, which is a direct reflection on the entrepreneurial abilities of Kathy Clinton. I am honored to recognize her as the 2009 West Virginia Minority Small Business Person of the Year.”
Clinton received the award in conjunction with SBA’s 27th annual Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week program. MED Week commemoration activities are designed to recognize outstanding owners of minority small businesses for their individual achievements and contributions to our nation’s economy. The event is a collaborative partnership between the SBA and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency and has been proclaimed by the President of the United States since 1982.
“I very much appreciate receiving this award from the SBA, which supported me in starting up my business in 2000,” said Ms. Clinton. “Being selected as the Minority Small Business Person of the Year reflects not only on the success of PRC but also on the exceptional efforts of PRC’s employees who made this success possible.”
PRC, which began as a small business with three employees in April of 2000, has grown to more than 190 employees working in sixteen cities across thirteen states, with nearly $15 million in revenue in 2008. The company is expected to earn approximately $19 million in revenue for 2009. PRC provides support services and solutions to corporate and government clients in the areas of: facilities, strategic planning and management, administrative support, project management, technical and engineering services, and information technology. The company has a reputation for providing quality services to its customers who include the U.S. Department of Energy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the U.S. Army. PRC also serves in a subcontracting role to a number of large businesses, which include Lockheed Martin, Battelle, URS, and Booz Allen Hamilton.
Clinton has also been recognized as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year for 2008; by The Dominion Post, a Morgantown publication, as one of the 100 Most Influential Persons in the Morgantown Area; and, most recently, by The State Journal for its annual Who’s Who in State Business Award.
Allegheny Technology Corporation (ATC), a small woman-owned, disadvantaged company, signed their first federal contract with the NASA IV&V Facility in Fairmont, W.Va. The company, based in Weston, W.Va., is a participant in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program.
The signing took place at the NASA IV&V Facility on Monday, November 16, 2009. Arria Whiston, president of ATC, Judy K. McCauley, director of SBA’s West Virginia District Office, and Dr. Dale S. “Butch” Caffall, director of NASA’s IV&V Facility, participated in the contract signing ceremony.
The $1.34 million dollar NASA contract was awarded for Knowledge and Program Management support. The contract will provide the NASA IV&V Facility with program metric development, strategic planning, and knowledge management support. ATC will be assisting NASA IV&V with developing best practices in industry and specifically addressing the internal drivers for enhancing their ability to share knowledge among projects, customers and stakeholders.
“Allegheny Technology Corporation is a perfect example of SBA’s 8(a) business development program in action,” said McCauley. “The 8(a) program provides excellent opportunities for small firms such as ATC to develop business experience through the federal procurement process.”
“This is very exciting for Allegheny Technology to receive its first SBA 8(a) award from the NASA IV&V Facility,” said Whiston. “This award is another instance of NASA’s commitment to the advancement of the small business community in West Virginia.”
Kaci Reynolds, chief, Knowledge Management Office at NASA, IV&V Facility adds, “We are happy to have Allegheny Technology on board. I look forward to utilizing their skills and talent to support the many Knowledge Management initiatives currently underway at the Facility.”
“The 8(a) program will open a lot more doors for Allegheny Technology,” added Whiston. “It is an excellent program for small disadvantaged businesses to obtain federal contracts. The support and guidance Allegheny Technology received during the certification process and business development planning activities from West Virginia District Office has been outstanding.”
The 8(a) program is an essential instrument for helping socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs gain access to the economic mainstream of American society. This program has helped thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs gain a foothold in government contracting. Divided into two phases over nine years, certified companies advance from a four-year development stage to a five-year transitional stage.
The program provides access to sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling $3.5 million for goods and services and $5.5 million for manufacturing. While the 8(a) certification program helps firms build competitive and institutional know-how through sole-source contracts, the SBA also encourages participation in competitive contracts as well as commercial contracts.
Whiston officially became an entrepreneur in 1998 starting Whiston Accounting which evolved into AW Consulting. Early in 2009, she incorporated the business and became Allegheny Technology Corporation. ATC provides professional services, Program Management and Information Technology solutions for federal, state, and local governments, federal civilian agencies, and commercial clients. The company focuses on areas such as project management, financial analysis, software and systems engineering, as well as training and simulation, and specialized scientific, engineering, and technical support.
To learn more about the SBA and their business development programs, visit the SBA’s web site at www.sba.gov or contact Melissa Loder at SBA’s West Virginia District Office at (304) 623-5631.