Amid the ups and downs of government contracting, Delta Solutions and Strategies LLC has withstood the unpredictability of the defense industry for nearly 16 years.
Founded in 2000 by Kelly Bain, the Colorado Springs defense consulting firm has transitioned from being a woman-owned to disabled-veteran business, widening its window for opportunity and growth, yet keeping its small-business roots.
“We provide government contracts mostly for the [Department of Defense] but we also support agencies within the government such as Veteran’s Affairs, Defense Logistics Agency and local communities and states,” said Gary Bain, CEO and president.
The company specializes in systems engineering and technical assistance, as well as advisory and assistance services; it is a prime contractor on million-dollar contracts with the North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Northern Command and Air Force Space Command, all in Colorado Springs.
Bumps in the road
About 50 percent of its employees work in Colorado Springs, and the rest are dispersed throughout the country.
At one point, the business lost about 40 percent of its staff due to government insourcing, Gary Bain said.
“They were contractors, and the government decided their jobs were to become government positions and gave our employees the option to become government employees,” he said.
Fluctuations like that with government contracting are the biggest challenge for the business, he said.
Delta Solutions and Strategies has averaged between 80 and 85 employees, at one point had as many as 120 employees and at another, a low of 40, according to Gary Bain.
“You have to be flexible,” he said. “You have to grow and shrink based on whatever the requirements are. The key is being able to adjust to that and maintain success while going after more work.”
Also, with the government contracting acquisition process, it can take anywhere from six months to two years to win a contract, he said.
“It takes a lot of strategic and financial planning ahead of time to meet that cycle,” Kelly Bain said.
Hence, the business has a designated war room at its office on Space Center Drive.
Contracts on the wall are organized into sections and labeled to track the status of current and potential opportunities.
“We have about 14 right now that we’ve submitted,” Gary Bain said. “Some we’ve been waiting on for two weeks and others for two years, waiting for the government to make awards on.”
In response, the company has dramatically increased the number of opportunities it pursues in the past three to four years.
“You have to keep your pipeline full of opportunities to work on because the government will shift or delay opportunities,” he said. “You have to be ready and prepared to weather that delay by having more opportunities in place that you can go after.”
On a regular basis, Delta Solutions and Strategies works with nearly all the other local defense contractors. Sometimes the companies are competitors and other times they’re partners, Gary Bain said.
“Businesses such as Lockheed Martin and Booz Allen Hamilton will come to Delta Solutions and Strategies when they’re looking for a small business prime [contractor] because they’re aware of our qualifications,” he said. “A lot of companies our size will only do subcontract work because they’re not capable of being a prime contractor.”
The business also runs all of its proposal production in-house.
“Sometimes proposals are very in-depth and entail hundreds of pages and volumes of work,” he said. “A lot of small businesses can’t do that internally, and we do.”
The business was recently awarded a nearly $8 million, five-year contract to provide operations and maintenance at the Navy’s transmitter facility in Dixon, Calif.
“At the transmitter site, there are 1,600 acres of antennas, seven of them over 600 feet tall,” Gary Bain said. “We’re going after similar contracts in other locations. There are 13 of these sites around the world and we’re going to utilize that capability, hoping to grow that operations and maintenance component.”
He said it’s an advantage being a DoD contractor and having an abundance of military retirees in the area.
“They have a great amount of wealth of knowledge, and it’s a benefit for us to be able to provide capable people back to the government in support,” he said. “This is a hub of really talented people that we’re able to bring to support our customer.”
Gary Bain is a disabled veteran, retired from the Air Force after 24 years of service. He said close to 90 to 95 percent of his staff is previous or retired military personnel.
“Something Kelly started initially, and that we’ve kept with is — as a manager and owner, it’s my job to take care of our employees; it’s our employees’ job to take care of the customer; and finally, the customer ends up taking care of the company,” he said.
Gary Bain said he wants the business to grow — but only so much.
“There is a certain threshold within the government, that if you grow too large, then you get into what they call the ‘dead man zone,’” he said. “You’re too big to be a small business, but you’re too small to be a large business.”
Delta Solutions and Strategies
Year established: 2000
Location: 565 Space Center Drive, #330
Contact info: 475-0605, deltasands.com