JetCo Federal’s first government client was the Michigan Department of Corrections. They didn’t just need packaging and industrial supplies – they needed a contractor to deliver these supplies correctly. Delivering to a correctional facility is exceptional. The driver must be cleared by law enforcement and may not carry tobacco, a cell phone, or any type of weapon – this includes a multi-functional tool like a Leatherman. The delivery hours are very limited, and every delivery can be postponed or canceled if a lock-down or other security breach requires it. Delivery rules are strict as well. Every truck must leave empty for security purposes, and there are multiple steps in the delivery schedule.
This first client was not an accident. Neither was the second, a complex packaging solution for critical items for the Army. From day one, we didn’t want the easy projects.
In those early days, the company had two stubborn, hard-working, scrappy employees. (It was my husband Jon and I.) Today, we have 12. And I’ve been fortunate to hire in accordance with our values. Every employee we have wants a challenge and takes them on with diligence and scrappiness.
Our clients today are remarkably similar to the original ones in 2007. (Actually, some are the same clients. We earn repeat business. Bragging and proud.) The projects are bigger because we can handle much more scale and our supply chain is deeper and wider.
It’s interesting to me how much the government experience matters across the board. Most of our non-government clients chose us because of our government success. They assume that if the Department of Defense (DoD) trusts us, they can as well. This is a safe assumption, as the DoD expects extreme quality and delivery capabilities.
Recently, I had a proud moment. We were gathering some metrics for our new website, and I saw how many secure deliveries we’ve made in our 13 years of operations. (And we maintained a 98% on-time delivery rating.) We’re still a small business, with the mindset that we’d rather be great at our niche than ginormous. (Check out Small Giants by Bo Burlingham to dive into this topic.)
A small business with mighty capabilities. That’s how I want our customers to regard us. We didn’t want the easy projects then, and we don’t want the easy projects now. Complex is what we do best, and we’ll keep doing just that.
Burlingham, B. (2005). Small giants: Companies that choose to be great instead of big. Penguin Group. http://www.smallgiantsbook.com/