Founded in 2010 and based in downtown Washington, n2Grate has focused much of its work since on collaborations with government and commercial enterprises in data center management and cloud computing.
Rich Troutman, an n2Grate senior director, spoke to Executive Mosaic about how small businesses such as n2Grate work with larger contractors and the work agencies do to bring more small businesses into the GovCon arena.
He also discusses the role of the HUBzone initiative in the larger partnership effort.
ExecutiveBiz: What market areas has n2Grate prioritized over the past year?
Rich Troutman: Last year was a growth year for the company. We hired several experienced sales account managers and we used their previous experience and contacts to prioritize our growth. It involves expanding our footprint in the federal government, adding an emphasis on state, local and DC government and then expanding our presence in the commercial area. We added two new areas of concentration – professional services and maintenance contracts for the standard manufacturers.
ExecutiveBiz: How does n2Grate work to cultivate its partner network with larger IT and technology firms?
Rich Troutman: Many of our sales account managers have between 15 and 25 years of experience. We have built significant relationships based on the previous work experience with them. We have been launching a marketing campaign and selling the benefits that we bring to these companies, such as the HUBZone Status.
ExecutiveBiz: What aspects of project management in the contracting area do you view as most important?
Rich Troutman: Something our company does different than most of our competitors is that we have engineers trained with project management methodology. A lot of our competitors have project managers that don't have experience with the engineering side of the project, so if there are changes on the project, the project manager has to discuss the concern with the senior engineer before getting back to the customer.
Our engineers manage the project so they know both sides of the coin. It makes our team much more efficient and proactive with managing our projects than our competition is.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you see the HUBZone contract picture evolving in 2015?
Rich Troutman: The Small Business Administration published their results in 2013. They met most of their goals, including 23 percent of awards going to small businesses. They also met the goals on disadvantaged veterans. One of their misses includes HUBZone, where they only awarded 1.7 percent out of their 3 percent goal. Government agencies across the board have been pushing HUBZone requirements.
Last year n2Grate has been responding to a lot of RFIs and sources responded that they could meet these requirements in HUBZone. We hope to help the SPA hit their goal of 3 percent business next year.
ExecutiveBiz: What steps can agency and other GovCon companies take to partner with small businesses more?
Rich Troutman: The key is to learn the capabilities of the small businesses. At one time a lot of the system integrators in the larger businesses only looked at HUBZone-type companies as construction and maintenance requirements. They did not look at us for overall professional services or IT-type business. We would like to emphasize that companies like us can help round out your team by bringing a lot of overall benefits and helping the chances of winning business.