Acumen Environmental

Kerri Valdez, Acumen Environmental

Tell us a little about Acumen Environmental, how you got started, your growth and your team.  Be sure to mention any small business certifications you have secured.
Acumen is a local certified woman owned/minority/owned DBE that provides environmental services throughout Colorado to include asbestos, mold, lead, soil remediation as well as demolition and Emergency HAZMAT response.  Acumen was established in September, 2012 and completed its 1st project in July 2013.  After providing 14yr of service to the non-profit sector in the local community I was laid off (May, 2012) and forced into unemployment.  At this low point in my life is when the decision was made to open up an environmental business; this was because my husband and two sons were already working in the industry.   Acumen’s revenue has grown 28% YOY (year over year) in the last 4 years and now has  a team consisting of 9 key administrative personnel to include 3 estimators, 2 project managers, 1 office manager, 1 office assistant, 1 marketing director and 1 safety officer.  Acumen employs an average of 23 workers/supervisors and up to 55 employees during peak season.

When did you first connect with Colorado PTAC and how have they been able to help you in this journey?
In (June 2012) I connected with PTAC for the 1st time and was introduced to Dennis Casey.  PTAC quickly introduced me to both SBDC and SBA resources available to my small business.  Having had no business background, no money, bad credit and no real experience in the field I was entering; PTAC was key in providing business education training courses and on-going support with proposal writing, marketing, introduction to RFP Search Engines, and overall business development. Acumen continue to take advantage of the services offered by SBA, PTAC and SBDC to support the development of our key personnel through free training seminars and support services made available.

What are some of the challenges you have faced in working with the government and how did you overcome them?
Some of the challenges in working with the Government early on included learning the Government language, acronyms and getting educated in certified payroll and wage determination regulations regarding Davis Bacon. Through SBDC, PTAC SBA’s seminars, webinars and outreach events Acumen’s key personnel were able to obtain the necessary education.  Acumen needed to understand the waiting period for payments on government projects and adjust to having no real control over when payments would be received.

What projects have you won with any government (prime or sub) and how did Colorado PTAC contribute to those wins?
Acumen has been awarded federal contracts and has served in both prime and subcontractor capacities.  Presently, Federal based contracts represent approximately 15% of Acumen’s total work load.  Colorado PTAC has contributed to several of Acumen’s awards by providing leads through “Bid Match” outreach on line system.   PTAC has also assisted with the creation and subsequent updates of our capabilities statements aimed to market to the Federal Government.  Additionally their review and feedback process has been instrumental in advancing our proposal outlines and bid spread sheets.

What is your favorite government project you won?  Please mention the value of the contract and why you feel the project stands out.
Providing on-going environmental support and responses to Fort Carson Support Services has earned Acumen $380,641 since our inception.  Each response action is unique and specifically assists the government in restoring and revitalizing its community by reducing or eliminating environmental hazards and concerns.

How important was it for you to use other business assistance organizations such as the Small Business Development Center and the Small Business Administration in addition to Colorado PTAC?
Business assistance organizations have played an incredibly important role for Acumen.  From providing search engine knowledge and training, to job tracking and forecasting, to receiving federal government leads and assisting in Acumen in navigating the federal marketing terrain.  Acumen has greatly benefited from the various training and out-reach seminars and marketing events programs held by each business assistance organization.

What advice do you have for any company, particularly those in your industry that is just starting out in government contracting?
To use the resources made available through the business assistance organizations and take advantage of all of the free training, search engines, and marketing events available within the community.  To use these resources to assist you in establishing any small business certifications that you may be eligible for and that may give you an advantage in your market place.  To recognize that nothing is going to fall in your lap; that you must be aggressive and deliberate in your pursuit to make yourself known, accessible and reputable.

What’s on the horizon for Acumen Environmental, are there new markets or program you are looking to pursue?
Acumen has recently been accepted (03/2018) into the SBA’s 8a Business Development Program; we are excited at the opportunity to further market in this arena.  Acumen is hoping to expand from our existing  15% Federal Based work  to 50% or more being acquired through federal government procurement opportunities.  Acumen’s hope is to eventually grow our business in a way where we are able to acquire long term sustainability, employ more people, and give back to our local community.

Please share any further thoughts.
Acumen is very grateful to have been embraced by each of the small business agencies and by the overall community as a whole!  We will continue to prioritize community and business relationships and will deliberately open and walk through new doors .  We look forward  to both exploring teaming and partnering opportunities that may advance our situation as well as assisting new start -up businesses with their new business adventures.

“Colorado PTAC is proud of the success we’ve helped Colorado companies enjoy.  We are going to start highlighting successful clients as we can put together their story.  Congratulations to Beckrich Construction.  They have been a client of PTAC for several years and we enjoyed watching them grow.”

– Dennis Casey, Executive Director, Colorado PTAC

 

Tell us a little about Beckrich Construction, how you got started, your growth and your team.  Be sure to mention any small business certifications you have secured.
Beckrich is a WOSB, 8a, DBE, ESB General Contractor that performs vertical and horizontal construction including remodels, historic renovations and a full range of quality control services.

Beckrich has three divisions; Federal, Commercial and Quality Control Services. In our Federal Division we execute projects for clients such as the Corps of Engineers, GSA, NIST & DOD. Our Commercial Division executes projects for clients such as the Broadmoor Hotel and Goodwill. In our QC Service Division, we provide a wide range of services from audits, & training, to placing fully trained and certified QC Managers on client projects.

Beckrich Construction was created in 2011 when Renee Glendenning & Jeff Richards wanted to leave corporate big business to start a small business where they could invest in their employees and community. Beckrich began with only 2 employees in 2011, struggling as all small businesses do, and now are happy to say we have 12 employees.

Beckrich Construction is grateful to have a staff of extremely talented and experienced employees. Since family is a cornerstone of our construction company, we value our employees as family. Our full–time staff includes Contract Administrators, Project Managers, Estimators, Superintendents, Safety Managers, and Quality Control Managers.

When did you first connect with Colorado PTAC and how have they been able to help you in this journey?
Beckrich had been in business for about 2 years when we connected to PTAC. We reached the point where we knew we needed to focus more energy on business development. PTAC has helped us immensely with outreach events, events enabling us to meet face to face with the Small Business Specialists for the local bases, IT security training to insure we were prepared to meet NIST standards, proposal writing classes, and the list goes on. PTAC even volunteered time to be judges at the final presentations for the SBA Emerging Leaders Program where Beckrich was part of the class of 2017. The support of PTAC across the board for local small businesses makes such a positive impact and is greatly appreciated.

What are some of the challenges you have faced in working with the government and how did you overcome them?
While we had decades of experience working for the Federal client locally, when we branched out and started Beckrich it was challenging to gain experience under the Beckrich name for future proposals. We overcame this challenge through partnering with other small businesses. Every Federal client has a little different protocol on paperwork, badging, pay apps and submittals for example, which can be challenging. Any time we gain a new client, understanding the client’s specific standards and needs along with our contract is first and foremost.

What projects have you won with any government (prime or sub) and how did Colorado PTAC contribute to those wins?
Beckrich Construction was able to set up one on one meetings with local base Small Business Specialists thanks to PTAC’s Government to Business Outreach class. Through these meetings we were awarded a base wide window replacement project due to hail damage at Peterson AFB.

What is your favorite government project you won?  Please mention the value of the contract and why you feel the project stands out.
Being a small business, every contract we get awarded is a win and a celebration for us. Every time we get a first project with a new client is a big win for us. We will never forget our first Corps of Engineer Project as Beckrich when we were able to expand and do upgrades to Iron Horse Park, which the Fort Carson community and families use so frequently.

We will also never forget our first IDIQ with Pueblo Chemical Depot. Recently, however, we were extremely excited to be awarded our very first WOSB Project for the Air Force Academy at Arnold Hall. We have been hoping to see our local contracting officers begin to use the WOSB vehicle and truly felt like this contract was a milestone for us. The Sustain/Repair HVAC project at Arnold Hall is $2,108,000. The existing HVAC systems in Arnold Hall have been in operation since the 1960s. This contract will upgrade the HVAC equipment and controls of nine air handling units and reheat coils.

How important was it for you to use other business assistance organizations such as the Small Business Development Center and the Small Business Administration in addition to Colorado PTAC?
The SBA has been a champion for Beckrich since day one and what they offer in support and training to all local small businesses is invaluable. Recently, Beckrich was honored to be a part of the 2017 class of the SBA Emerging Leaders Program. The Emerging Leaders Program consists of over 100 hours of classroom time over seven months where participants are given the opportunity to work with experienced mentors, attend specialized workshops, and develop connections with their peers, city leaders, and the financial community. The Emerging Leaders Program gave knowledge which we now apply in our everyday business. The SBDC has also had many outreach events and summits that have aided Beckrich in staying competitive and gaining knowledge of how to work with different Federal entities. Small Businesses are very lucky to have so many sources for aid and knowledge, all they have to do is grab hold of it and apply it to their business.

What advice do you have for any company, particularly those in your industry that is just starting out in government contracting?
Our advice for companies just starting out in government contracting would be that “Knowledge is Power.” Always read your contracts carefully and be sure you understand all of the requirements before executing them. In today’s day and age, site safety, payroll requirements, NIST security standards you must have in place along with the paperwork and quality control requirements are missed by many General Contractors which cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars – not to mention the non-replaceable losses in reputation. Utilizing small business assistance programs such as PTAC will give new companies the knowledge they need to succeed.

What’s on the horizon for Beckrich Construction? Are there new markets or program you are looking to pursue?
Beckrich looks forward to continuing the relationships/partnerships they have created with local government and commercial clients as well as branching out to new clients locally and in neighboring states. Beckrich has created a self-performing concrete division and looks forward to continuing to grow this service for our clients.

Beckrich is also very excited to announce our new line of Quality Control Products and Training. We have 16 online training modules which will produce completion certificates for professional portfolios. The Training modules cover topics such as Commissioning, Red Zone, As Built Drawings, Submittals, Closeout, & QC 101 for Subcontractors, Admin and Quality Control Managers. We have been training Subcontractors, Designers and General Contractors on these government QC topics over the past several years and are excited to now be able to offer online training modules. We are building a QC community for support and knowledge thru our blog at www.qualitycontrolcollective.com, and our Quality Control Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/271876930013677/.  Visit us today and check out our new Products & Services at www.beckrichconst.com

Please share any further thoughts.
Beckrich Construction is blessed to be a part of the small business community here in Colorado Springs. Our local community means a lot to the ownership and employees of Beckrich. Beckrich finds it important to give back to our community whenever possible and are proud to be a sponsor of our local schools ICAP program helping student to explore careers along with supporting youth programs such as the Academy Little League. Lastly, being a Federal Contractor and having the ability to build for the men and women who risk their lives to protect us along with our freedoms, is an honor and a privilege.

Our Motto quote is “Quality is what remains long after the dust settles, it’s what we build our reputation upon.”

 

Important SAM Update

Greetings,

  Below is an important change in the System for Award Management, or SAM, database.  The government’s language clearly indicates they are targeting the practices of those companies that prey on those new to the government world.  Although, this will mean an extra step and will add time to the process, I applaud GSA for addressing this problem.  This is for NEW REGISTRANTS ONLY.  Just the other morning, I was talking with a Colorado business that was taken by one of those companies.  Always ask your PTAC counselor about anything that seems strange.  In order to expedite process and take some burden off our clients I will be exploring the possibility of getting our counselors certified as Notaries.  More to come on that.

Announcement:

GSA implemented a new security measure last night in the System for Award Management (SAM).  That is, every new registrant is now required to provide a notarized letter confirming the entity’s Administrator is allowed to register the entity in SAM and make changes to its registration before GSA will activate the registration — this is effective immediately.  Notarized letters must be mailed to the Federal Service Desk and contain the information outlined in the FAQ posted at https://www.fsd.gov/fsd-gov/answer.do?sysparm_kbid=d2e67885db0d5f00b3257d321f96194b&sysparm_search=kb0013183.  Note that most local governments (e.g., town/city halls) and financial institutions provide notary services. 

A new registration may now take several days to become active depending on the information provided passing existing validations, as well as delivery of the notarized letter.

Background on the change:  GSA has posted information at https://www.gsa.gov/about-us/organization/federal-acquisition-service/office-of-systems-management/integrated-award-environment-iae/sam-update.  They have been participating in an active investigation of alleged, third party fraudulent activity in SAM.  Due to the issues identified, GSA has decided to implement some immediate manual requirements that limit who is authorized create and edit access to new registrations in SAM.  GSA stresses that they are working to identify more automated methods of implementing additional internal controls that will obviate the requirement for a notarized letter.  In the meantime, GSA has updated the SAM website and instructions for registering entities, and is increasing staffing at the Federal Service Desk to handle the processing of the notarized letters and address questions.

Any questions should be referred to the Federal Service Desk.

Special note regarding entities registering from locations outside the United States – these entities MUST contact the Federal Service Desk as a part of this process, even though they do not have access to a notary.  As a reminder, the Federal Service Desk’s contact information is available at https://www.fsd.gov.

 

Best regards,
Dennis Casey
Executive Director
Sherman & Howard L.L.C. is a super-regional firm with a national practice. Its approximately 180 lawyers serve a broad range of clients, including individuals, privately held businesses, multi-national corporations, and government entities. Its multidisciplinary attorney teams coordinate between practice groups and offices to provide the scope and depth of legal skill necessary to serve its clients most successfully.
Since 1987, Sherman & Howard L.L.C. has provided a wide range of legal services to its clients regarding virtually all aspects of government contracts and related areas of law. It has broad experience with complex issues regarding award, administration, and disputes relating to federal, state, and local procurement. Its clients include large corporations, small businesses, and non-profits. Several of its attorneys have extensive government contract experience resulting from their prior service as both senior civilian and military government attorneys. As a result, Sherman & Howard L.L.C. understands the perspective of government attorneys, contracting officers, program personnel, and senior government executives. It has used this extensive experience to create one of the first full-service government contract practices in Colorado.

Welcome to Colorado PTAC!

Colorado PTAC is pleased to introduce you to our newest recruit!  Donna

Danford is joining us as a full time counselor in the Catalyst Campus office. Donna has a vast amount of experience working with government contracts from the industry side. She has performed as a subcontracts manager and Small Business Liaison Officer for several companies including a couple well known on the front range. She earned her Juris Doctorate which will certainly help her and our team serve you better. Next time you swing by the Colorado Springs location be sure to drop in and meet Donna!

Just like the professionals from our national pastime head out to training each spring so do your PTAC professionals. Staff response will be a little limited this week since I have sent nearly the entire counseling crew to Jacksonville, Florida for our bi-annual training conference. These training sessions are great opportunities for us to meet and talk with various agency heads, subject matter experts, and our peers across the country to discuss policy updates and best practices. This conference will last all week from 5 March to 9 March so the whole team will return next week. We have a couple of us staying behind to take care of your needs, so please call if you need us.
– Dennis Casey, Executive Director, Colorado PTAC

Dennis Casey

As your business grows and starts engaging in various relationships you must always consider how affiliation will affect you.  The government looks at affiliation as follows “Business concerns are affiliates of each other if, directly or indirectly, either one controls or has the power to control the other, or another concern controls or has the power to control both. In determining whether affiliation exists, consideration is given to all appropriate factors including common ownership, common management, and contractual relationships; provided, that restraints imposed by a franchise agreement are not considered in determining whether the franchiser controls or has the power to control the franchisee, if the franchisee has the right to profit from its effort, commensurate with ownership, and bears the risk of loss or failure. Any business entity may be found to be an affiliate, whether or not it is organized for profit or located in the United States or its outlying areas.” FAR 19.101  But there’s more than the FAR, 13 CFR 121.103 talks about how the SBA determines affiliation.

As a competitor in the bidding process you have a right to challenge the size of other competitors and they can challenge you.  Any size protest must have credible evidence of an infraction before the SBA will commence a determination investigation.  If the SBA finds you affiliated you are forbidden from claiming small business status until there is a significant fracture of the entities involved.  If you wish to appeal a finding you may do so with the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals.  There are certain timeframes for filing and you must provide evidence indicating there was an error in the determination but it may save your contracting future if you rely on being small.

SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals FAQ for Size Appeals

e-CFR link to 13.121.103  

Sample case attempting to appeal a size determination

Dennis Casey, Executive Director of CPTAC

We have been notified there is a new entity trying to take your money for federal registrations.  A couple of clients have received the following email

                Good Morning (NAME),

Your SAM registration for your CAGE Code (XXXXX) has been received and is in processing. The next step is to assign your company a Senior Case Manager whose function is to manually process all of your profile details in the various federal databases as required per Federal Acquisition Regulations.

For this, a $599 registration fee is immediately due and payable with any major credit card. Please find the attached document for your completion.

Simply click on the REVIEW DOCUMENTS button here to begin. Locate all fields highlighted in red and fill in the blanks as required. Upon receipt, a Senior Case Manager will follow up with you by email or phone to complete the process and ensure proper filings.

 

Thank you,

Danielle DeNatale
Junior Case Manager 
USWDS
 
USWDS.com is registered but is not an active website.  I cannot find anything about the company online, so I assume them to be a fake front.  Be aware that this is only one of many entities trying to take your money for processes that are completely free.  If you ever receive a fishy email please forward to your PTAC counselor as we share any new attempts with our national network.
Be safe!!
Dennis Casey
Executive Director
Colorado PTAC
Colorado Springs Utilities is dedicated to creating a bright future for the community and would like to partner with local contractors to keep business in the Pikes Peak Region.
This workshop is geared toward local businesses and will provide opportunities to learn more about upcoming projects and doing business with Colorado Springs Utilities.
Topics to be addressed include:
  • An update on energy and water/wastewater projects you can bid on in 2018-2019.
  • Roundtable discussions with procurement staff and project managers.
When: 8 am – 10 am, February 15, 2018
Where: The Antlers Hotel Heritage Room, 4 S. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Cost: Free

Register Now!

Breakfast and parking validation in the hotel’s garage will be provided. 
For more information or questions, contact Colorado Springs Utilities at (719) 448-4800.

2018 Contracting Opportunities Fair – “Opening Doors”

Focusing on technology, construction, procurement, and supplier diversity
The fair is a place where agencies with upcoming contracting opportunities can connect with small businesses that may be a qualified match. Over 200 Front Range small to medium-sized businesses in various industries, stages of procurement, and capabilities join us for a full day of opportunities for connection. Our last event SOLD OUT, so be prepared for a packed venue!
Exhibitor Tables
INTERESTED IN PURCHASING AN EXHIBITOR TABLE? (Investment: $400)
  • A dedicated exhibitor table to showcase your business. Informal networking with agencies, organizations, fellow businesses, and attendees will happen throughout the day
  • Opportunities to take advantage of highly-curated one-on-one meetings with agencies, primes, and corporations who specifically fit  your capabilities (reserved only for businesses who purchase a table)
  • Tiered opportunities for sponsorship and exposure in our Event Program