for: a fixed-price contract to deliver a document imaging system for the Department of the Interior. “It was a new technology, and we weren’t as knowledgeable about it as we should have been,” recalls Hunt. The $270,000 contract cost RSIS nearly $600,000 to deliver since at the time it did not have the software development expertise. “We took a bath. For a company doing $1 million a year, at 10% profit, it ate up the profits and then some.”
Hunt says the turning point for the company came in 1995 when RSIS was generating about $3 million in revenues. “We had more inquiries for our services and expertise than we could handle with the size of the staff,” he says. “We knew that the next year we would triple and be a $9 million to $10 million a year business. What I thought we would achieve in 10 years, we achieved in three years.” Hunt points to outsourcing as a large contributor to the company’s growth when it was still in its beginning stages. RSIS outsourced support teams to do the payroll, accounting, and taxes.
By 2003, RSIS was graduating from the SBA’s 8(a) program. This is a make-or-break time for some of the program’s minority-owned firms, because leaving the nest means no more bidding on contracts reserved for “disadvantaged” businesses. It also means being a smaller fish in a much bigger pond, where the small fish often get eaten. “We’re no longer small by any government standards, so we can’t bid on any restricted procurements,” says Trowbridge. “This means every day we wake up, we have to book new business. And we have to do that competing against Lockheed-Martin, Northrop Grumman, CSC–the big guys.”
But the RSIS team is up to that challenge, providing a host of services for any IT project and maintaining and updating it throughout its lifespan. “I like to design things and see them through implementation and into an operational mode. If you go in and say, ‘Here’s a study we did and here’s a roadmap to getting it done,’ it becomes a $300,000 paperweight,” Hunt says. “We combine the management consulting and engineering approach with the systems integration and implementation approach to provide a lifecycle contractor.” This approach has led to rave reviews from government clients.
“Having worked in the technology field for over 25 years, I have found RSIS to be extremely customer-oriented and willing to provide strong customer support,” says Linda Estep, Job Corps IT Manager. RSIS deployed Voice over IP services to 122 Job Corps centers, saving the government more than $1 million annually in long-distance service costs. RSIS also developed a management tool that enables the Job Corps to track the life cycle of a student from the time they walk into a recruiter’s office through training, graduation, job/education placement, and post placement follow-up.
This kind of positive feedback is invaluable in the world of federal contracting. “As the scope of these federal contracts continues to get larger, [agencies] want to find companies that