Terri Thomas: It is a very exciting time for us at BRTRC. SecureForce is our first acquisition. It’s a company that we’ve been working with for two years. We’ve teamed with them repeatedly in the Army space, and we developed a very good working relationship. We have a lot of similarities, as far as culture, working style, intent and mission.
We felt like it was an opportunity for us to broaden the capabilities that we offer to our clients. SecureForce also has some interesting markets that they’re in that are of great interest to BRTRC. They’re at the Veterans Affairs Department. They’re at NASA. They’re at TSA. It was a good match, from that perspective.
Overall, we see cybersecurity as a key part of the industry going forward. We believe it’s going to be integral as part of the services we want to be able to offer the government. It’s going to be as fundamental as program management. Pretty much every project has some sort of data or system or tool encapsulated with it, so having their cybersecurity experience is going to be critical. Plus, they do great things with data analytics, big data, some things that are important to the government and that we see as really being able to open the federal IT pipeline for us.
ExecutiveBiz: What is BRTRC’s background and what’s your history there?
Terri Thomas: We have been around since 1985. Currently, we’re a mid-sized firm. We started off as a small business in the 8(a) program; grew, and graduated from that. Now, we are competing full and open government contracts. Currently, we have about 75 active contracts, about 300 employees and five offices across the United States.
We have employees that work internationally, as well as in several other states in the U.S. It’s been a pretty good success story for a company in this marketplace. And I’ve been here for most of it. I was employee number 16. This is about my 23rd year with the company. I’ve had an opportunity to grow and learn throughout this journey.
I came on as the CEO in 2006 with a leadership team of business partners and we understood that this was going to be a growing firm that needed to be able to compete full and open, and it’s been exciting to be able to do that with this company.
ExecutiveBiz: How have you prepared and positioned BRTRC to be successful in the LPTA environment?
Terri Thomas: I do think we saw that this trend was coming. I don’t know that we would have put the LPTA moniker on it, but once they named it that, we weren’t surprised. We were evaluating the marketplace as a mid-tier firm trying to determine where we could differentiate ourselves, where we would be most successful, the value that we could bring to the marketplace, and it was probably around 2011 where we saw pricing trends changing.
With everything happening with regards to the budgets, and some of the fiscal realities that have come to bear in the market, pricing was going to become critical.
Back in May of 2012, we submitted our bid for the Air Force PASS II – IDIQ, which was an LPTA bid. We weren’t surprised that the government was looking for tools and mechanisms to find a way to get industry to certify that it was bringing prices down to a level that would be acceptable to the government. And we were prepared for that. BRTRC has been here for a long time, and we have been able to evolve as the marketplace has changed and transitioned, and we were prepared to evolve again.
I think the government has been very clear that they need prices to be as reasonable as possible, that they have to do more without more, that every dollar matters, and that they need industry to come in in a competitive fashion with very competitively priced bids. We have embraced that as a company and I think we’ve positioned ourselves in the marketplace as a company that can be trusted for good value, as a company that can deliver on its contracts and quality, and a company that can price very competitively.
ExecutiveBiz: Were there components of your business that you particularly felt were well tailored for this environment?
Terri Thomas: In an LPTA environment, it’s not just a bid labeled “LPTA” that needs this sort of attention. We found it has affected the company across the board. We’re a professional services firm, so a hundred percent of what we do is services. There aren’t equipment components. We are free of organizational conflict of interest, which is very important. We don’t have a commercial division. We are a hundred percent government‑focused
We are seeing terminology come out on other bids, things such as, all else being equal, price will be the determining factor. So, even if a bid is labeled “best value” or another government contracting term, we’re finding that, as a company, we have to make sure we are giving the most competitive price we can.
ExecutiveBiz: What else are you seeing in the marketplace, in terms of significant procurement trends, priorities or market conditions?
Terri Thomas: We are looking at trends in general, what the solution sets need to be for the government, such as cybersecurity, big data, and analytics. These are critical.
Another trend is that small business goals are really being enforced. The government is looking for higher small business subcontracting percentages from a prime contractor, and they are releasing more bids as small business set‑aside. I think that has affected the industry as a whole, and it’s something we have to adapt to. When small business subcontracting percentages are high, it leaves less space for a large company to be a subcontractor on a team.
So, previously, when two large companies might have teamed up on a bid, that opportunity doesn’t always exist anymore, and now both large companies will often have to compete individually. The government’s receiving more bids, which we are all aware of, and it’s creating a different competitive environment.
We’re working to strengthen our small business partnerships. We were an 8(a) success story. We completely understand the benefits of the small business programs and some of the challenges that small businesses see. I think we’re a very good partner to small businesses and can help them through this. We’re looking to strengthen our mentor‑protege relationships and to be able to work with small businesses as they pursue these small business set‑aside contracts.
What I think will be interesting to watch is how these companies end up graduating from the small business program. When we were in the small business program, the timelines were a little longer, the life cycles of a company were a little longer. You didn’t graduate so quickly. Now that so much work is coming out small business set‑aside, I think it’s possible that some of these companies will grow more rapidly and therefore will graduate more quickly. So in the next four to five years, we’re looking to see if the mid-tier part of the industry expands with more competition because all these small businesses have graduated.
ExecutiveBiz: What are you most excited about moving forward?
Terri Thomas: As a company, we are really excited about the SecureForce acquisition. It’s the first for us. We decided to go with a company we had a good relationship with as our first acquisition. We’re interested to see how we can put all of our ideas into action. We are looking at the possibility of additional acquisitions in key markets and to address other trends in the marketplace.
We’re also just excited about this marketplace. We’ve always been a value company. I think we’ve always been really good at actually digging in and rolling up our sleeves and delivering for the government. And I think companies like that should play very well in this price‑sensitive environment.
It’s also just an interesting time as a growing company to be able to go and reach new markets. We’ve just won this IDIQ at DHS. We’ve won an IDIQ at Air Force. And to be able to go out to a diverse client base and show them what we can do, I think is exciting.