Moving Marines and the equipment they need to fight a war is more than planning and effort; it’s a practical art just to get both tanks and toilet paper to the fight. There’s just as much to be done to move the grunts and their gear back home when the war is won. Surprisingly, a small part of that real-time logistics planning work in today’s Corps isn’t done on a baked desert battlefield; it’s done half a world away in a comfortable basement in a quiet, tidy suburban neighborhood in Bellevue.
Those leathernecks know one of their own, Marcus Preasha, has their back.
Providing crucial support for Marine Corps systems
Preasha started his own consulting firm, Preasha Logistics and Consulting, about two years ago, taking his eight years’ experience in uniform and subsequent resume in the logistics industry into a government contracting business serving clients from the Marine Corps to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
It’s some high-level work sometimes with real-world, instant impact. Preasha’s company specializes in mining and gathering hidden gems of valuable information from a wide range of often isolated and proprietary database systems. Sounds easy, right? Often, though, finding these specific pieces of data requires scouring multiple systems, each with its own permissions, access controls, and types of information to make sense out of, then compiling it all into a clean, quick and easily-understood analysis that can help decide where to eliminate costly duplication and where best to put scarce combat resources.
One of Preasha’s jobs is playing a role providing a rapid and flexible logistics capability supporting Global Combat Support System-Marine Corps, a leap forward in the way the service gets what riflemen in the field need faster than ever before. Working as a subcontractor with Oracle for the Marine Corps, his company offers technical, management, database and infrastructure answers, including creative patches and fixes to resolve software issues to the Corps can effectively track, transport and deliver that crucial support—and save taxpayer dollars doing so.
Preasha enlisted in the Marines after attending college at Hampton University and Old Dominion University in the Virginia Tidewater region, and “fell in love” with the logistics field while stationed as a supply administrator at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga. Instructor and inspector duty sent him to the reserve center at Fort Omaha, where he finished his degree work.
He left the Corps, and settling in this area, did work for a government contracting firm out of Virginia, where he continued logistics work with the Marines. His company sent him to Iraq for about five months to help on site during some of the hottest fighting in the war in that country.
“Never went to Iraq with the Marines, but it took being a civilian to be sent there,” Preasha said.
Catching the entrepreneurial bug
But it was at his next job, working for a firm out Johnstown, Pa., that he caught the entrepreneurial bug. Once more working in his specialty, Preasha moved up from support to subject matter expert in Marine Corps database systems.
“I realized in doing the work for my company to get these contracts I could cut out the middle man and start my own business,” Preasha said.
After a year on the job, Preasha left that firm, and itching to go out on his own, began in 2011 working as a subcontractor to Anglicotech, a D.C.-based veteran-owned small business specializing in supply chain management.
“I kind of lucked into the opportunity,” Preasha said. The Marine Corps had rolled out its combat support system and Anglicotech and Oracle had plenty of work to go around.
“Without that SBA loan, I’d really be struggling financially,” Preasha said. “The loan gave me some breathing room, and a chance to really understand the financial part of running a business. The work was the easiest part, I know how to work with clients. The hardest part in starting a business is to understand all the different sites you have to go to register, and then there’s all the taxes you have to pay as a business owner.”
He used some of the proceeds from the loan to fly around the country to sell his nascent company’s services to provide subcontracting work. Once, on a connecting flight from Minnesota to D.C., Preasha struck up a conversation with a colleague, a talk which led to a small consulting job with the Secretary of Defense improving accountability and cutting waste with government-loaned equipment to contracting firms. At one point, Preasha claimed, the Defense Department was missing millions worth of equipment waiting to be shipped back from civilian companies.
“There’s a big emphasis by Congress to improve accountability for all the money appropriated to Defense,” he explained.
Working with PTAC to bid on more business
While at first Preasha ran his company as an “employee” of his former firm, as he continues to snag more and more contracts, “I’m more directed to really running this as a business, not just finding work on an ad hoc basis and getting money month to month.”
To that end, Preasha meets often with the Nebraska Business Development Center’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), where he’s picked up tips to search job solicitations on the Federal Business Opportunities site, and certifying his company to qualify for set-aside contracts.
“PTAC really opened my eyes and helped me with that first step to really understand what I was getting into,” Preasha added.
And after one year of leaving his corporate contractor job running his own firm, Preasha said he’s doubled his income .
“I’ve got big hopes for this year,” he said. In addition to moving out of his basement and finding office space in Bellevue, he wants to win “a couple more contracts,” to expand from a staff of one part-time administrative assistant to 10 employees.
And he’s also made an effort to give back to the Marine Corps for giving him his start. Preasha has mentored several Marines making the move to civilian life, including pointing one master sergeant toward opening his own logistics contracting company.
“A lot of junior Marines especially aren’t taught to look at their future, that they’re focused on their day-to-day job,” Preasha said. “I always say take as many classes as you can, learn as much as you can. I tell them, ‘this is what I did, and you can do it, too.’”