A Tale Of Four Freshmen

By Sonya A. Donaldson

million in revenues, making it a Top 30 industrial/service company. Here are the tales of this year’s freshman class.

A TIME OF OPPORTUNITY
When authorities announced that they had captured suspected terrorists known as the “Lackawanna 6″ outside of Buffalo, New York, James McNeil was not surprised. The arrests were due, in part, to information provided by his screeners working at the Greater Rochester International Airport in New York. “They came through the Rochester airport, were identified by our staff, and later apprehended,” says McNeil, whose company also provides language translation and localization, and intelligence analysis service to government agencies. “Every time the president gets on TV and says, ‘We’re doing X,’ we have people providing on-the-ground support to our troops,” says McNeil. And with increased demands for security, intelligence, and language services, McNeil’s company is in a prime position to reap even more benefits from the war on terrorism.

Thanks to a slew of lucrative contracts with government agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration (which gave McNeil Technologies two, yearlong contracts worth $12 million to $14 million) and the Department of Energy (which gave McNeil Technologies a one-year, $3.2 million contract), the Springfield, Virginia-based company’s revenues rose 30%, from $25 million in 2001 to $38 million in 2002. Even more impressive, McNeil Technologies is the only minority contractor in the U.S. selected by the Transportation Security Administration to provide airport passenger and baggage screeners at one of five airports nationwide — a job he won in a competitive bid. “It’s exciting because this is a line of business we’ve been in for a while, but to actually do security for the TSA is a feather in our cap.” McNeil, 50, has been able to use his background in vulnerability assessment and analysis, as well as extensive government contacts and a little inside experience (he worked for the federal government for 12 years and left at a GS-13 rank) — to land contracts.

Although the screening process is classified, McNeil can reveal that the federal government provides the equipment (including explosive trace detection machines and X-ray screeners) while his company screens baggage, passengers, and employees. With more than a million visitors to the upstate New York airport and more than 400 airports nationwide, these days are particularly promising for the company and its 600+ employees. And the best of times are yet to come. “There are 427 airports in the country and only three contractors doing private screening; there is tremendous opportunity for expansion,” says McNeil. In addition, on Nov. 19, airports nationwide will be able to “opt out” of the federal screening process in favor of private screening firms like McNeil Technologies.

McNeil has come a long way from Chatom, Alabama, and his dreams of earning a whopping $10,000 a year once he graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Alabama State University in 1976. “That was a lot of money to me at that time,” he tells, laughing. “I come from a very, very small town. I can remember when my mom made only

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