When Gerald Williams retired early from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), he couldn’t sit still very long. After four years of working on his land out in the country and enjoying the grandkids, he decided to create a “part-time” job for himself running a home-based business to provide support services to the federal government. Today, his company, Interim Solutions for Government (ISG), has grown from two employees and $50,000 in revenues to 190 employees with more than $13 million in revenues. He says he owes his success, in part, to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
A U.S. Army service-disabled veteran, Gerald worked for 20 years at FAA and retired at the age of 50 as the manager of the Operational Support Division at the FAA Academy. “I knew training backwards and forwards,” he said. “When I started my business I wasn’t looking for a big contract, just something small.”
Although Gerald knew what he wanted to do, he wasn’t prepared to do it. When he received his first contract offer in 2002, he did not have the financing in place, nor the employee pool to begin the job. He honed his skills in business development and secured capital through an SBA guaranteed contract line of credit financed through BancFirst.
In 2004, ISG was awarded a contract with the FBI to provide investigative analysis and consulting services while performing adjudication of background investigations on individuals who need a “Top Secret” security clearance. Gerald hired a retired FBI agent to perform the work, and the company received financing through a BancFirst-funded $50,000 SBA-guaranteed contract line of credit. The money was used to finance the direct labor and material costs associated with performing the contract. This contract continued to grow during 2005-2006 and Gerald brought on more retired FBI agents.
In 2006, the company received their first contract with FAA to provide training in Ft. Worth, TX and Albuquerque, NM. The ISG employee base rose to 25 and as the business grew, the working capital (payroll) needs of the company grew as well. BancFirst funded a $750,000 contract line to service the new contracts received. Everything seemed pretty stable for ISG until December 2007.
“Right at Christmas, we received notification we had just been awarded three contracts that would start Jan. 1 at 14 locations,” Gerald said. “It was a busy Christmas! But, this time we were prepared. We anticipated winning and we had the employees in place and the SBA line of credit was in place, and it worked!”
The three new contracts catapulted ISG into a growth spurt. The number of employees increased to near 100 and the company was approved for the SBA maximum loan amount of $2 million. Later in 2008 ISG was awarded another contract to provide the FAA with air traffic control instructors which increased their employee level to around 190 employees. This contract also brought ISG to a point where over half their workforce was now located in Oklahoma. “We had a real desire to increase our employee base in Oklahoma significantly and this contract helped us achieve that.” Gerald said.
While Gerald credits the SBA and BancFirst as partners in his success, he also believes there has been a divine hand that has opened doors and directed his path.
“We’ve been blessed with people and things occurring in our business that I can’t take credit for,” Gerald said. ISG operated practically rent free out of the Fred Jones Business Development Center (an Oklahoma certified Small Business Incubator) for almost five years. “I can see God’s hand moving in many areas of our company. I have to take the opportunity to give God the glory and praise.”
Also critical to the success of ISG has been the addition of two of Gerald’s former co-workers: Richard Rodine, an FAA retiree, who is now executive vice president, and Robert Igo, an FAA retiree, who now serves the company as the vice president of aviation support.“As you start to grow, you have to bring in quality people to help you manage your growth,” Gerald said. Marty Mulholland, another federal retiree (FBI) and Gerald’s first employee has become their vice president of investigative services.
About 86 percent of ISG’s workforce is composed of federal retirees, either military or civilian. “We’ve been blessed to be able to get a top caliber of people,” Gerald said. “Retirees know other retirees nationwide, so we are able to keep a good pool of employees. Federal retirees are such a wonderful resource for federal contracts, but you have to stay on top of things, because as a whole, retirees don’t want to work 40 hours a week,” Gerald laughed. “And, some retire again.”
ISG employs workers in Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, and DC, and subcontractors in Utah and Arizona.
“It’s nice being your own boss,” Gerald said. “But the downside is you work yourself harder than you’d ever let anybody else work you. We try to run our business in a way that brings glory to God. I’ve not been perfect, but our goal is to maintain a level of integrity that makes everyone---employees, customers, and partners—have a high level of confidence in our company.”
Contact: Gerald Williams, Owner
Address: 2224 N.W. 50th St., Suite 293
Oklahoma City, OK 73112