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Small Business Owner Finds Success and High Growth with 8(a) Program
Ronald Wilkerson built his energy industry consulting business one contract at a time, from a one-man shop with no track record and $10,000 in sales to a 370-employee company with more than $23 million in annual revenue - in less than 10 years.
Critique Resource Consulting, a U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a)-certified firm, provides budgetary and administrative support to the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve and support services for the U.S. Department of Energy and other federal agencies. Critique's primary business base is centered on the energy and energy-related fields.
Before he started Critique, Ron had more than 17 years of financial management and business analytical experience, so when he started the company, he already had the background and experience to methodically build an infrastructure to make Critique viable in both its business operations and contract execution.
Even though Ron brought built-in knowledge about many of the regulations associated with federal contracting, he admits that initially, it was a struggle trying to secure contracts. Critique had no previous track record and obviously could not instantly demonstrate its capacity to satisfy client needs. Slowly, however, Critique began to win very small contracts and used these opportunities to diligently work toward the basic goal - exceeding client expectations. This built an excellent performance record and was the key that eventually opened doors to more lucrative contracts.
The primary lesson that Critique has learned and has since employed during its existence is that: the work we do today may not pay off until sometime in the future.
During its transitional stage in the 8(a) program, Critique continued its growth by competing for both 8(a) and non-8(a) contracting opportunities. Critique used its transitional stage in the 8(a) program to refine its technical and marketing abilities while also focusing more on the full and open competitive procurement marketplace.
Achieving these objectives provided Ron with significant but stable growth while simultaneously maximizing use of the 8(a) program to develop his company into a viable and competitive firm capable of main-streaming into the business world upon graduation. In fact, Critique is doing just that. To date, its largest 8(a) contract was for $24 million with the Department of Energy, while its largest non-8(a) contract was $35 million with Wackenhut Services.
Critique has grown from a local firm to one that is national in scope. Critique has expanded its operations and has been awarded contracts and subcontracts in various locations. Critique is dedicated to bettering its local environment through community participation as well as mentoring other small businesses by sharing "lessons learned" and providing guidance. As such, Critique has entered into a mentor/protege agreement, and competed as the Louisiana district office's approved 8(a) mentor/protege team and won a nationwide 8(a) $6.6 million contract to perform facilities support at DOE's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The total value of this contract, including all options, will be in excess of $11 million.
Ron encourages his employees to volunteer in community efforts, and takes pride in the fact that he is also able to provide financial support to a number of charitable organizations. In addition, Critique has also contributed to the New York Police & Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund, which assisted the families of fallen New York City firefighters by providing aid to family members to assist with immediate expenses.