Wayne Sims needed education on the government contracting process to help his company, Sharp Business Consulting Services, LLC move forward.
He found a mentor through the SC Small Business Development Center, and Sharp gained the edge it needed to grow from a single-person company to a dynamic operation with 21 employees.
Sharp is a full-service clinical healthcare firm, specializing in the evolving field of resiliency and human performance. Pioneered by the U.S. Military, resiliency and human performance covers all aspects of physical, mental, and emotional conditioning, including support services designed to heighten personnel performance. Sharp provides optimized physical conditioning programs that maintain performance, prevent injury and illness, speed recovery and ensure all personnel are mission-ready.
In 2007, Sims secured 8a certification through the Small Business Administration for his company with the intent of trying to compete for government contracts dealing with clinical healthcare needs. After about a year of making slight progress toward establishing the reputation of Sharp as a prime contractor, Sims decided to act on a referral to the South Carolina Small Business Development Centers’ Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Sims had a trip to Washington, D.C. scheduled to meet with various federal agency representatives.
SBDC consultant Scott Bellows reviewed Sharp’s capabilities statement and noticed that Sims had listed a broad array of skills to present to potential clients — too broad.
“I just didn’t have any contracts where I was the prime contractor and could define myself,” Sims said.
Bellows understood the situation.
“It’s typical of young 8A contractors for companies to list everything under the sun,” Bellows said. “He had gotten some advice that he needed to have as many skills listed as possible in order to attract more jobs. There’s a logic to that, but it was hurting him in that it made it difficult to identify a core competency.”
First, Bellows helped Sims narrow the scope of offered services. Then, he offered up what he called, “a crash course in Contracting 101,” to help Sims navigate the process more effectively.
“He helped me to understand the underlying rationale for why the government approaches purchasing the way it does and what I needed to do to become a competitive player,” Sims said. “This included teaching me how to research awarded contracts to get a better sense of where I might fit into the big picture and how to monitor bid opportunities.”
With that knowledge under his belt, Sims began receiving “Sources Sought” bid opportunities, and Bellows walked him through the process of how to read and respond to those requests. Bellows also helped Sims learn how to create proposals so that Sharp could team with other companies on projects. This helped Sims develop his networking skills.
“We had never teamed with other companies before,” Sims said. “It gave me life experiences where I could see how other companies networked.”
Sims identifies the tipping point of success to be when he secured a contract in 2010 as the prime contractor with a military installation. Winning the bid and executing the contract provided him with a sharper vision for his company.
“Once I got that first contract in 2010, I started doing some research on where the military was going. That’s when I defined where I wanted my company to go,” he said. “I started creating a niche for myself based on my company’s capabilities.”
Sharp provided services as the prime contractor to the U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Center of Excellence initiatives. The primary purpose of the program was to reduce musculoskeletal injury and attrition, time lost from training, and educating staff and cadre concerning health, fitness, and injury prevention.
“This program management assignment is perhaps the best example illustrating that our firm’s team of professionals are well-versed in medical, healthcare, operations, logistics, technology and training initiatives, as well as the use of current evolving operating systems,” he said.
Sharp is currently the prime contractor providing a health and wellness program to the military within seven regional locations throughout South Carolina. In addition, Sharp is the prime contractor for other federal contracts.
One of his next goals is to expand his reach into the private sector, and he plans to keep using the SBDC as a resource to sustain Sharp’s continued growth.
“You can always use some help with expanding your ideas,” he said. “I want to take what I’ve done in the federal arena and do the same in the private industry to be more diversified. It’s tough, but we’re still trying to do it to expand our services.”