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Navy Veteran is Fueling for Good, After Landing a Contract of a Lifetime

How PTAC helped Broco Oil land a multi-million dollar contract with the Department of Defense by challenging the SBA’s non-manufacturer rule 

By Norman Eng, Public Affairs Specialist


Bob BrownRobert Brown is a U.S. Navy Seabee veteran who settled back to civilian life working as an oil delivery truck driver.   Shortly after his release from active duty in 2005 – he started working for a local company, then took his Seabee “Can-Do” attitude and launched Broco Oil.

Banks were hesitant to approve him since he was just starting out as a young entrepreneur and he had no collateral to secure a loan.  In 2007 however, Brown was approved for an unsecured $25,000 SBA loan – which he used to purchase an old fuel truck for $7,000 and rented a parking space for $100 a month. 


Procurement Technical Assistance Center & Certification
Brown started building his residential oil delivery portfolio, but kept growing steadily into the commercial and public sectors.  His military background and experience with emergency response, gave him a value-added edge for working with organizations like FEMA, Massport and hospitals.

Procurement Specialist, Len Green from the Massachusetts Procurement Technical Assistance Center began counseling Robert to prepare his business to compete for government contracts.  In time, Brown went through all of the necessary steps and Broco Oil was certified as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business and a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise.  Broco Oil was now ready to compete with larger businesses and take on bigger jobs.

The public sector market for petroleum products was historically serviced by big corporations that had proven the ability to fulfill government contracts.  Brown saw an opportunity and wanted to get certified to demonstrate that his small business could do the job more effectively and efficiently than the big companies.



Granting a waiver to SBA’s Non-manufacturer Rule
The only issue now was the SBA’s Non-manufacturer Rule – which allows a small business to supply products it did not manufacture. 

To be eligible for a small business set-aside procurement seeking a manufactured product, an offeror has to qualify under the non-manufacturer rule.  But, in this case, Broco could not meet the requirement and still be competitive.  Broco had to seek a waiver of the requirement from the SBA.

However, the SBA doesn't initiate the waiver - the procuring activity rather must request the waiver from the SBA.  Through Len Green’s persistence over a multi-week period, the procuring activity from the Defense Logistics Agency did finally request the necessary waiver, which was then granted by the SBA.  Thereby allowing Broco Oil to now qualify for a multi-million dollar award, one month after submitting his first federal contract bid.  The award from the Department of Defense allowed for Broco Oil to supply ground fuels for the New England and tri-state area.


Answering a Call for Disaster Assistance
Before Broco Oil was awarded its first government contract, it had no past performance history to reference.  Brown had coincidentally just submitted his first bid, when he was called upon by a FEMA prime contractor to assist in the national emergency response of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Without hesitation, Brown deployed a team to assist with the disaster response effort mobilizing down in the gulf coast.  As a result of Broco Oil’s positive impact and response to the call of duty – the performance had elevated the profile of the company into a national spotlight, earning the company exposure and experience as a qualified small business contractor.  

Locally, Broco Oil assisted in another major disaster emergency in November of 2018, when the Merrimack Valley gas explosions caused a series of explosions and fires that caused widespread damage to the region.  Brown again stepped in and responded by delivering fuel to heat thousands of residents and small businesses left without utility services during the wintertime.


Reinvesting in the Company and Community
Today, Broco Oil sells and distributes petroleum products to an active clientele of over 15,000 commercial and residential accounts in the Greater Boston area.  Broco Oil delivers over 12 million gallons annually and has a fleet of over 35 trucks, 50 employees and 4 commercial locations. 

Broco Oil has doubled in size every year for the past 6 years.  As the company keeps growing and reinvesting into hiring more employees, purchasing new vehicles, and expanding its service area – Brown continues innovating and making an impact on the economic development in the region.

Brown is breaking ground on a new rail-served, bio-diesel facility that intends to significantly lower the carbon footprint for local oil heat consumers.  As a result, two old railroad switches in Haverhill which had been dormant for over 50 years were reactivated – providing a new opportunity for local small businesses to cut down on emissions and freight costs.  This has also opened up new business activities within an SBA HUBZone, spurring new economic opportunities in the Haverhill area.

In his time away from the company, Brown serves his community as a Fire Captain for the City of Chelsea and is a member of NEFI, MEMA, and the North Shore Oil Heat Association.  Brown also enjoys mentoring other veterans in need and contributing to local charities serving children and families.    

In 2019 during National Small Business Week, Robert Brown was honored as the SBA Veteran Owned Business of the Year for Massachusetts.


Fire Truck


(SBA Disclaimer of Endorsement:  Any reference obtained from this server to a specific product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the SBA or the United States Government of the product, process, or service, or its producer or provider. The views and opinions expressed in any referenced document do not necessarily state or reflect those of the SBA or the United States Government.)

Veteran Entrepreneurship Resources


SBA Non-Manufacturer Rule

The non-manufacturer rule allows a small business to supply products it did not manufacture.

For small business set-asides — other than construction or service contracts — the prime contractor that’s supplying products to the government is required to cover at least 50 percent of the cost of manufacturing those products.

The non-manufacturer rule is an exception to that requirement. The rule allows a small business to supply products it did not manufacture — as long as those products come from another small business.

See Title 13 Part 121.406 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for detailed information about the non-manufacturer rule.




Company Name: 
Broco Oil
North Reading, MA