Tacoma Firm Finds Growth Through Government Contracting
Dennis Farrow’s journey with Advanced Technology Construction (ATC) began when he purchased the existing company in 2012. With more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant and retail industries, Farrow was able to leverage extensive business management experience to secure an SBA 7(a) loan and become ATC’s new owner and president.
ATC is a General Contracting company offering a wide variety of services, including design, renovation, construction, and construction management services. Leading the company as the new owner, Farrow focused on gaining industry experience with his sights set on expanding his federal contracting opportunities through SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program. The 8(a) Program is a nine-year program offering technical assistance and the opportunity to compete and receive set-aside and sole-source contracts with the federal government. Farrow applied for 8(a) certification in 2015, ready to hit the ground running.
“The 8(a) program is a valuable opportunity to grow a business, offering access to federal contracts with reduced competition,” Farrow said. “It is a nine-year program aimed at preparing a firm to operate and compete independently in the federal marketplace upon completion. There is no time to waste.”
After relocating ATC offices to Tacoma, Farrow found he was eligible for certification through SBA’s Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program. The HUBZone program fuels small businesses intending to award at least 3% of federal contract dollars to HUBZone-certified companies each year. In addition to having a location in a designated HUBZone, eligibility for certification also requires at least 35% of a company’s employees to reside in a HUBZone, a requirement Farrow has maintained as he has expanded to a staff of 50 people.
“I would encourage all small business owners to pursue the certifications they are eligible for,” Farrow said. “These are not handouts, but the government is dedicated to working with small businesses, and entrepreneurs should focus on their ability to perform and take advantage of these opportunities.” ACT is also a certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business and federally certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) by the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE).
Today, Advanced Technology Construction works across the entire west coast from Northern California to Alaska, with a client list that includes the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Parks Service, and Department of Veterans Affairs. Farrow has increased revenues by 50% and completed more than 400 projects to date, with the “best days yet to come.”
In 2022, Advanced Technology Construction grew to over-qualify for the program and exited one year before scheduled graduation in 2023.