Women Impacting Public Policy Announces 2020 Award Recipients

Woman Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) recently announced its annual award recipients.

Each year, WIPP selects a single business owner, a business advocate, and a corporation to honor. Awardees demonstrate accomplishments in advocacy, small business support, and economic success. The awards recognize support for the women’s business community, in alignment with WIPP’s mission and policy pillars.

2020 Award Winners

The 2020 WIPP award winners are:

  • Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year – Sue Schweim Tellier, JetCo Federal
  • Agency Advocate of the Year – Barbara Carson, U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Corporation of the Year – Accenture

JetCo Federal and Women Impacting Public Policy

JetCo Federal is honored to have been selected as the recipient of the WIPP Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year. JetCo Federal’s President, Sue Schweim Tellier, has served on WIPP’s Leadership Advisory Council since 2017, and she recently spoke as an expert on compliance at a WIPP webinar.

Candace Waterman, President & CEO of WIPP, said, “Sue was honored for her leadership, support, and commitment to women’s business community. Since the pandemic, she participated in almost every WIPP webinar/educational program offering, provided sound advice, updates, and resources to the community who need it most, small businesses.”

“This award is SUCH a big deal to me – not only because we were selected as WOSB of the year, but because of the organization that selected us,” said Sue Schweim Tellier, President at JetCo Federal. “WIPP attracts brilliant leaders of innovative, growing companies. Through WIPP, I’m surrounded by ambitious, confident women I deeply respect. This isn’t just any recognition, or just any award. This is from an organization and women leaders I deeply admire.”

WIPP is a national nonpartisan organization that aims to increase woman entrepreneurs’ impact on the nation’s public policy, economic opportunities, and alliances with other organizations. WIPP also aims to create equality for Woman-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) in federal contracting, ensure fair tax treatment for all businesses, and increase in capital for the businesses they partner with.

You can find more information about Women Impacting Public Policy by visiting https://www.wipp.org/.

 

 

JetCo Federal Adds Digital Marketing Specialist to Team

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH (October 6, 2020) — JetCo Federal, a Grand Rapids-based supply chain management and warehouse supply company, added a full-time employee to their team this month.

Carly Contreras

Carly Contreras joins the JetCo Federal team as a Digital Marketing Specialist. In this role, she manages JetCo Federal’s website, social media, blog, and digital media campaigns. Contreras is a graduate of Grand Valley State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Advertising and Public Relations.

Prior to joining the JetCo Federal team, Contreras was a Marketing and Database Intern at Experience Grand Rapids and an Advertising Intern at Campus View Housing, gaining over two years of marketing experience.

Contreras stated, “I could not be more excited to put my knowledge and experience to use in a new industry. Digital marketing has a large impact on every business, especially in the government contracting space. I look forward to working with such a hard-working and dedicated team!”

To learn more about the JetCo Federal team, please visit our leadership page.

VETS-4212 and Contracting Compliance

If you’re a prime government contractor, or even a subcontractor, the term VETS-4212 might be familiar to you. While it’s one of the many FAR clauses that can be in a solicitation, VETS-4212 acts as a good example when it comes to government contracting and compliance within the government sales process. Before we dive into the importance of compliance and communicating flowdown clauses, let’s first take a look at VETS-4212.

VETS-4212

VETS-4212 is an annual report that is required to be filed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Veterans’ Employment and Training Services, or VETS. The VETS-4212 annual submission form must be filed by all federal contractors and subcontractors who enter into a contract larger than $150,000 with any department or agency of the United States for the procurement of personal property and non-personal services (including construction).

The annual filing period for VETS-4212 is August 1 – September 30, and the form can be filed at the Department of Labor website or mailed in. Filing online is preferred by the DOL and also allows for batch filing if you need to file for multiple locations.

Contracting Compliance

Why bring up VETS-4212? VETS-4212 is a good example of a flowdown clause that must be communicated between prime contractors and subcontractors. As a prime contractor on many government solicitations, it’s extremely important at JetCo Federal that we take precautions in understanding what FAR clauses and regulations need to be realized by our suppliers.

This is why maintaining relationships and having open communication with our suppliers is core to our business. We candidly talk about payment terms, flowdown clauses, and expectations when we’re working with our suppliers to ensure compliance within the complex structure of government solicitations. This style of communication, in addition to our prompt payments, has cemented us as a priority customer for our suppliers.

The VETS-4212 annual submission is no exception and must be discussed anytime a solicitation lists FAR Clause 522.222-37 or is over the $150,000 threshold. This is why with every contract we enter into, we develop a contract compliance matrix to ensure all requirements are met and all reporting needs are noted and clearly communicated.

Contract compliance can be a time consuming and confusing aspect of any government opportunity. It’s important that compliance, specifically when it comes to flowdowns and subcontractors, is clearly communicated and approached efficiently so that suppliers can do what they do best while we handle the fine print of government solicitations.

Are you a highly qualified supplier interested in working as a subcontractor on a government solicitation? Contact us to learn more.

JetCo Federal Secures Spot on Inc. 5000 List

JetCo Federal ranks No. 2960 on the Inc. 5000 with three-year revenue growth of 133 percent

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH (August 12, 2020) — Grand Rapids-based supply chain management and warehouse supply company, JetCo Federal, was recently ranked by Inc. magazine in its annual Inc. 5000, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest growing private companies. The list represents the most successful organizations within the American economy’s most dynamic segment — independent small businesses.

JetCo Federal, a local woman-owned small business, was ranked no. 2960 with three-year revenue growth of 133 percent.

According to Sue Tellier, President at JetCo Federal, the growth is attributed to the niche they credibly hold with their customer base.

“Our successful and extensive experience with the Department of Defense earns respect from warehousing decision-makers,” said Tellier. “We embrace complex supply chain challenges, we deliver on time, and we offer blunt, creative ideas that resonate.”

Not only have the companies on the 2020 Inc. 5000 been very competitive within their markets, but the list as a whole shows staggering growth compared to prior years. The 2020 Inc. 5000 achieved a three-year average growth of over 500 percent, and a median growth rate of 165 percent. The Inc. 5000’s aggregate revenue was $209 billion in 2019, accounting for over 1 million jobs over the past three years.

“Our significant growth doesn’t surprise me. We have tenacious employees and a scrappy, no-whining culture,” said Tellier. “We’re not done growing, either.”

Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000.

The Power of Connections: Cultivating Authentic Relationships

Building a strong relationship with your current and future customers is a crucial step a company should take to be successful in their industry. At JetCo Federal, we take creating connections seriously. Transparent communication is ingrained into our company, and we establish and cultivate authentic relationships with our suppliers and customers.

Why?

To us, it’s not just a business relationship. Our interactions are human-to-human. They’re meaningful, personal, and transparent. We understand that when you cultivate strong relationships, it only brings benefits to both parties.

Authentic Relationships

How does our team cultivate authentic relationships with our suppliers and customers? Our team:

  • Listens to the needs of our end-user;
  • Asks the right questions to ensure our customers are satisfied;
  • Communicates consistently;
  • Displays integrity with every interaction;
  • Is respectful of our suppliers and customers’ time;
  • And builds a trustworthy relationship with everyone we come in contact with.

We take these steps with every relationship we build. Our suppliers and customers appreciate the time we take to cultivate the relationship, and when our suppliers and customers are happy, we’re happy.

A Unique Team

At the core of our company is the drive to re-win every day. Whether it’s winning a large contract with the government, solving a simple sourcing problem, or completing fast turn-around times, our team wants to win. We’re also not afraid to take on complex projects, which makes us different than our competitors.

Our team is unique, and our connections are authentic. This is a powerful combination that leads to satisfied customers, a strong company culture, and a robust network. Without our authentic relationships, we wouldn’t be able to do the work that we do now. The government wouldn’t be buying, and our customers wouldn’t be satisfied. But they are buying, and they are satisfied. And that’s in part due to the power of our connections.

Establishing and maintaining authentic relationships is at the core of what we do. Connections are powerful, and when you have strong connections, you have trust and loyalty not only within your company but with your end-users as well.

Behind the Scenes: Logistics

Want to learn more about how our team thinks and operates? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the first edition of our “Behind the Scenes” blog post series. Today, we’ll be talking to Adam Lewak, Operations Manager at JetCo Federal, and will be diving into the details of how our logistics team operates.

Adam Lewak, Operations Manager at JetCo Federal

Vanessa: Can you tell me a little bit about what you do in your role at JetCo Federal?

  • Adam: As the Operations Manager, I monitor all orders in production and consolidate the shipments that go to the same area. Once I have a shipment consolidated and built, I generate government-specific labels, provide the required paperwork, and source a carrier to haul the shipment. Sourcing a carrier requires daily spot negotiations. Once a carrier is secured, I schedule and monitor the shipment, making sure it is picked up and delivered on time.

Vanessa: We often talk about our team tackling complex projects daily and how we don’t shy away from a challenge. Can you talk a little bit more about the approach the logistics team takes to their work?

  • Adam: Our team keeps a daily watch on production and due dates. If there are multiple orders to one area, we typically wait to ship and consolidate those to ride together on the same truck. We utilize as much trailer space as possible, thus lowering freight costs. If due dates do not allow us to wait on production, we make sure to ship via the most effective cost option available. Our team performs in-transit check calls to verify that everything is going smoothly, and our team is always ready to jump into problem-solving mode as soon as we know of any issue.

Vanessa: There is a lot of planning, coordination, and attention to detail to make logistics run smoothly. Part of our logistics team’s role is to ensure our shipments won’t be rejected. Can you talk a little bit about why shipments are rejected, and about what happens when an order is rejected?

  • Adam: Shipments are typically rejected when the primary carrier does not have capacity. This means that the primary carrier does not have any drivers available at that specific date and time, or that there has been a change in national rates and the carrier can get a better pay moving different freight out of the same area. When an order is rejected by the primary first, then it is tendered to the secondary. If the secondary rejects the order, it is offered to the backup carriers on the lane. If it is still rejected, then it will typically end up on a spot market board where approved carriers and brokers can then bid on the shipment. The spot market’s lowest bid wins the shipment.

Vanessa: Another integral part of ensuring our products are delivered on time, every time is the carriers we use. Can you go in-depth on the strict requirements we have for our carriers?

  • Adam: Most of the freight JetCo Federal moves is delivered to U.S. military bases.  For a driver to get onto a base to deliver, he must be a U.S. Citizen carrying a Real ID – a driver’s license with a star in the top right corner, signifying it is accepted as a federal form of identification. The driver must also have a clean background with no criminal history or warrants, a clean driving record, and must have strong attention to detail as delivering to U.S. military bases can have complicated paperwork. Most military bases perform a background check upon arrival, and all of these requirements are in place due to national security.

Since our inception, government agencies have relied on JetCo Federal for the distribution of critically timed, urgent product.  To learn more about JetCo Federal’s logistics services, please visit our logistics and warehousing page.

Ben Hawksford

JetCo Federal Adds Account Coordinator to Team

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH (July 10, 2020) — JetCo Federal, a Grand Rapids-based supply chain management and warehouse supply company, added a full-time employee to their team this month.

Ben Hawksford

Ben Hawksford joins JetCo Federal as an Account Coordinator. In this role, he manages JetCo Federal’s current contracts, order fulfillment, compliance, and customer relations. Hawksford is a graduate of the University of Michigan – Dearborn and has extensive experience in the packaging industry.

Prior to joining the JetCo Federal team, Hawksford worked as an Inside Sales Account Manager at a West Michigan corrugated packaging company. Hawksford stated that he looks forward to, “learning how to successfully manage current and future supply chain business, and to playing a role in JetCo Federal’s growth.”

To learn more about the JetCo Federal team, visit our leadership page.

 

Reliability During Uncertain Times

Over the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the government’s buying methods to shift significantly. Though the traditional buying process is still in place, the government has turned to quicker methods, such as single-sourced non-competed contracts, to help get resources to where they are needed. However, this buying method has its downfalls. The government is struggling to reliably secure critical supplies. Here’s an example.

FEMA and Unusable Testing Kits

In May of 2020, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded a $10.2 million contract to Fillakit LLC, a company that was formed just six days before the contract was awarded. They also had no previous experience working with the government. Fillakit was formed by an ex-telemarketer who has been accused of fraudulent practices over the past two decades. Due to the hasty contract award, Fillakit supplied testing kits to the government. Now, the government has millions of testing kits that are unusable due to unsanitary manufacturing conditions.

Fillakit isn’t the only company that has been awarded a contract without having worked with the government before. A recent Government Executive article states that “federal agencies hastily awarded more than $2 billion in COVID-19 contracts to vendors who had no prior federal deals.” They also stated that “the federal government has committed more than $16 billion to more than 4,000 contractors in its attempt to address the spread of the novel coronavirus. More than 1,800 of those deals were given without competitive bidding.”

As traditional buying methods shift during COVID-19, it’s more important, now than ever, to ensure the government has access to and is working with highly qualified government contractors. Vetting processes need to stay in place to allow the government to reliably secure the critical supplies they need. It all comes back to working with a government contractor who is qualified. So, how do you identify a qualified government contractor?

How to Identify a Qualified Government Contractor

One quality of a highly qualified government contractor is strong past performance. Companies that show they have done similar work to the contract, and in a similar capacity, have the experience and expertise to meet the needs of a contract.

Another quality of a qualified government contractor is compliance processes. If a company is not compliant with their current contracts, the likely won’t be compliant with the upcoming contract. Make sure the contractor has compliance processes in place before awarding them the contract

These are just a few qualities of a qualified government contractor. Though COVID-19 has shifted the government’s buying methods, now more than ever, the government needs to work with highly qualified companies that bring trust and reliability to the table.

JetCo Federal is a supply chain management and warehouse supply company with a successful past performance managing diverse products for complex contracts. Compliance, trust, and efficiency are ingrained into our company, and we’re ready to embrace the challenges that come our way.

Carrie Jokiel of ChemTrack

Woman-Owned Small Business Spotlight: ChemTrack

Welcome to the second edition of our woman-owned small business spotlight series. This edition highlights ChemTrack, an environmental engineering, remediation services, and construction company. The company’s President, Carrie Jokiel, shares her story and advice for other woman-owned small businesses.

Can you provide a brief overview of what ChemTrack does?

ChemTrack is an 8(a) Alaskan Woman-Owned Small Business, specializing in environmental engineering, remediation services, and construction. We combine geological, chemical, hydrological, and engineering expertise with a broad understanding of regulatory and risk frameworks to solve environmental assessment and regulatory compliance problems for our clients. ChemTrack tailors innovative methods and concepts to individual problems and provides environmental solutions, especially as they apply to arctic and subarctic conditions in Alaska.

What inspired you to start ChemTrack?

I’m a born and raised Alaskan woman and second-generation “ChemTrackian.” My mother grew up in bush Alaska, our remote areas, as my grandparents were teachers in the villages. My dad emigrated here from Germany to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks back in the ‘60s. He fell in love with my mom and the spirit of Alaska. Being raised with that same spirit led me to becoming partners with my father and eventually becoming majority owner. We both share the entrepreneurial spirit that comes from the beauty and opportunities this great State has to offer.

That combination of respect and entrepreneurship has created a workforce culture that truly enjoys what we do to prevent negative environmental impacts, restore our remote areas to their original pristine conditions, and work together with our clients that share our passion for the State of Alaska.

What is your proudest moment for ChemTrack?

This summer season is already kicking off to be my proudest moment. I feel like we have arrived.  We have worked incredibly hard to be prepared to have a good season and I see the fruit of that labor happening. We were coming off a tough, stressful season last year, and the resilience my team has shown along with the can-do spirit, has been incredible to witness.

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome with ChemTrack?

We had a project go sideways two seasons ago that had a ripple effect into last year’s season as well.  It stressed our company at every level; it pulled my focus away from our strategic plan into survival mode; it affected the crew involved on the project, from the project manager to each laborer.  Amazingly, it also bonded us together. We were all in the trenches together, backs against a wall, and we survived. I wouldn’t wish tough days on any business owner, but the grit my crew showed and what we learned from our challenge has made us a much better company and now, we are poised to thrive.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Listen to the nudges you feel when leading. Realize you are a master of your trade and how you lead may seem unique to the mainstream we are often surrounded by. Know that your intuitiveness matters, and is at its core, how YOU run your company. Basically, you know what you’re doing – keep crushin’ it.

Do you have any suggestions on resources that women-owned small businesses should use?

To keep up on what our government is doing to help women-owned small businesses, get involved in Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP).  If starting out, get to know your PTAC office.  If a federal contractor, get to know your local SBA office personnel.  If you’re a federal contractor and can budget it, use a service like FEDMINE to track and monitor RFPs, competitors, and contracts. Good luck!

To learn more about ChemTrack, visit their website at http://chemtrack.net/.

The Computers Can’t Save Us: To Solve Process Problems, Think Like a Baker

Business processes are a lot like cakes: good ones come from quality ingredients and are made by planning and proven recipes. If you have the wrong ingredients and little understanding of how to achieve the right result, it produces a bad cake. This analogy can be extended: If you’re working with poor ingredients and recipes, an industrial kitchen stocked with the latest tools won’t improve the result. You end up with more bad cakes, but faster.

Enter process automation.

We have asked computers to automate nearly every task-based element of our workday. Email is automated letter delivery. Cloud storage is automated file cabinets. Excel is an automated calculator. We’ve become so much faster and more efficient at low-level tasks that organizations are now handing more complex processes over. Relationship management, order fulfillment, and even human resources are increasingly mediated through software, but many organizations are finding that the investment in these systems hasn’t had a corresponding return.

Business process development has an analogy in computer science: GIGO, or Garbage In, Garbage Out. Many organizations are finding that weaknesses in their processes, the ‘Garbage In’, aren’t being solved by implementing new tools. Instead, they’re still getting ‘Garbage Out’. Worse, many problems are amplified by technology. While automation doesn’t necessarily help you do things better, it can almost always help you do them faster. More bad cakes.

“I’m living this right now. People are frustrated. What do I do?’

1. Recognize that CRM, ERP, or other tools won’t magically solve process issues.

This can be a hard conclusion to reach, especially where there has been (sometimes large) investment in systems on the implicit promise of solving the very thing they can’t fix. Process is just another way of saying ‘how people do things’. Even assisted by technology, people are the key factor in every process equation, which brings us to the next point.

2. Solve the root cause.

Teams that work together may have metrics that don’t align or lack shared buy-in on goals for the organization. Often, the causes are simple – communication, information sharing, measurement – but the solutions are complex. Each company will have unique challenges, but it’s critical that they’re addressed before operationalizing them into an automation tool.

3. Build feedback loops to identify and address new issues in your process.

This will help combat efficiency drift. As external variables change, the process and systems must change with them to stay relevant. Regular check-ins with each stakeholder group, external audits, and intentionally designed benchmarks or metrics, used together, are a powerful combination to measure performance and guide changes to prepare for the future.

System problems are hard to overcome if you don’t know where to start. By following the steps above and recognizing the weakness in your processes, you’ll be on-track to helping your organization maximize the benefits of automation.