entrepreneurship. “From that point, given my background and people I had met in the government, I started to market my skills and I got little jobs, $15,000, $30,000 consulting jobs that got me started,” says Otis, who has a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee State University, an M.B.A. from The California State University, and a Master of Military Art and Science, from Air University of the U.S. Air Force. “Of course, it took about five years before I got a substantive contract.” It was a five-year agreement worth about $3 million to manage the Publication Distribution Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton.” Over the past two decades, Otis’ contacts, tenacity, ability to spot lucrative deals, and—most important—recruit top talent, propelled SoBran to the ranks of the BE 100s.
With pressure on the Obama administration to curtail spending on outsourcing government services and projects, SoBran is looking to grow its non-military client base. To that end, SoBran opened a lab across the street from The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where they maintain lab animals and aid in the development of medical prescriptions and equipment for corporations and academic institutions.
But with America still at war, the company will likely be able to continue to compete for certain contracts. “They’re going to have to bring these planes back and refurbish them. They can’t go bring new ones into inventory. It takes too long, it’s too costly,” Otis says. “We feel probably 80% of our business is secure and 20% is our team working very hard to either bring on things that will either reinforce what we have, substitute for what we have, or go after new business to make up for what we may lose.”
There will be challenges ahead, points out Kelly. “Government contractors right now are under the spotlight, so there’s going to be increased pressure on those contracts that we go after,” he says. “The competition is going to be tighter. That’s going to put increased pressures on cost. Making sure that we remain cost competitive is always a major issue.” Otis believes that with a dedicated, well-educated workforce, those challenges will be met and overcome.