Risking It All

William Teel snags a $1.4 billion government contract, the largest ever awarded to a small business

When the Department of Energy decided to offload its entire IT infrastructure to a third — party vendor, William Teel jumped at the chance to prove himself worthy of the project. And though he was a former software writer for the DOE, this 41 — year — old chairman and CEO of Washington, D.C. — based 1 Source Consulting Inc. didn’t have an easy time snagging the contract.

“I’m a believer in risk and reward, so I stepped out of my comfort zone and went for it,” recalls Teel. For several months in 2003, his firm was among 100 that were interviewed for the task. Working in his favor was a DOE initiative to include more small businesses in its vendor base and a joint venture formed with Washington — based RS Information Systems Inc. (No. 13 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICES 100 list with $360 million in sales), which was already successfully fulfilling other contracts for the agency.

Together, 1 Source Consulting and RSIS formed Energy Enterprise Solutions. Its first charge was raising the millions of dollars it would take to fulfill the seven — year contract, which involves providing cyber security, telecommunications, application development, helpdesk support, and network services to the DOE.

Working with his three business partners and with RSIS CEO Rodney Hunt and executive vice president Ron Trowbridge, Teel hit the streets in search of that funding. He would wind up putting “everything on the line” to get it. “We had to show that we had the resources to perform the work,” says Teel.

Before that could happen, Teel learned that RSIS would not be securing its share of the up — front costs, which amounted to $25 million. That meant it was up to Teel to come up with the entire amount. To get there, he put up his home and car as collateral and obtained a loan from Wachovia Bank. “The bank took a chance on us when it really didn’t have to,” says Teel, who started his IT consulting firm in 1999 with a $10,000 personal investment.

According to Trowbridge, RSIS made an attempt to get the funding from its own bank but after meeting initial resistance from the bank, the company learned that its portion “wasn’t really necessary.” “Between 1 Source’s resources and the size of the contract, EES was able to get the funding without needing RSIS as a cosigner,” says Trowbridge. “We didn’t work the problem, because we didn’t have to.”

But the fun wasn’t over yet. Once the $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion contract was awarded in November 2005 to EES, the company had to kick into gear and hire employees to support the project. “We went on a mad hiring frenzy,” recalls Teel, who holds master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Bowie State University.

Today, EES has 600 employees and locations in 19 states. Combined, EES and 1 Source brought in $9.4 million in revenues in 2005, nearly $80 million in 2006, and are on track to reach about $200 million in 2007. For the next six years, EES will be

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