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Business as a Force for Good

Employees enable our work, our community matters, and the earth sustains us.

Normal business at JetCo involves a continuous cycle of challenging ourselves to be better. After reflecting on ways to improve our impact on our employees, our community, and our industry, we decided to pursue B Corp certification.

What is a certified B Corp?

Certified B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. B Corps “Envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good.” Members of the B Corp community are tackling some of the most pressing global challenges and building a new economy that benefits all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

What is B Corp certification?

B Corp Certification is the only certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance. It evaluates how a company’s operations and business model impacts its workers, community, environment, and customers. From supply chain and input materials to charitable giving and employee benefits, B Corp Certification proves a business is meeting the highest standards of verified performance.

Why is JetCo Federal getting B Corp certified?

  • It will make us better. What we like about B Corp Certification is that it will not just acknowledge what our company excels at now—it commits us to setting goals for improvement so that we create more positive social and environmental impact.
  • We win the right way, because our stakeholders deserve it. This is one of our value statements. We are passionate about doing things the right way. By doing things right—with all stakeholders in mind—we believe that certified businesses like ours can solve social and environmental problems.
  • We want to stand out. The B Corp seal instantly communicates that a company is a verified leader when it comes to positive impact and empowerment. The third-party validation that comes with B Corp Certification will be another feather in our cap to help JetCo Federal stand out in our industry.

How do we measure up?

Certified B Corporations must achieve a minimum verified score of 80 points on the B Impact Assessment. According to B Lab, which administers the program, the median score for “ordinary businesses” is 50.9. After completing our B Impact Assessment, JetCo Federal scored 54.4.

We have to say, when we read that our score was “ordinary” it felt like a compelling kick in the ass. Over the next several months we will be working as a team to achieve specific goals to earn those extra needed points. Because we don’t settle for ordinary. We want to be a force for good.

Volatility in The Freight Market

Of the major factors that make a logistics operation successful, managing volatility in freight markets is one of the most important. Volatility manifests as fluctuations in supply-side availability, or as customer demand, or as an external event (like a pandemic). It has immediate and substantial impacts on costs, and can be a major source of profit drag.

For logistics managers, mitigation isn’t straightforward. Simply pricing in the risk would make rates unsustainable, so organizations have to adopt more sophisticated strategies that adapt to market conditions. At JetCo, we have built our strategy on three pillars:

Organizational Resilience

When freight demand is strong, redundancy in the supply chain helps smooth spikes in pricing or dips in availability. Also, by actively developing multiple transportation options, opportunities to find efficiency naturally develop as demand eases.

Trusted Networks

Delivering to highly-secured or difficult-to-access locations demands a high level of trust and respect between companies and logistics partners, but organizations doing business commercially can benefit from developing trusted relationships as well. The freight market has an enormous amount of human capital, companies that recognize that as a place to invest real resources will find that it pays dividends in a volatile market.

Expert Resources

Resource diversity is key to active management of market uncertainty, and finding ways to multiply expertise internally and externally is a powerful way to mitigate risk. At JetCo, we utilize a mix of resources, including our own logisticians, brokers, and best-in-class technology platforms together to predict and mitigate market uncertainty.

In the past several years, the freight market has been severely tested by swings in demand due to general shifting industry in the United States, the ongoing pandemic, and technology. Through the application of these strategies JetCo has been able to maintain a 99% on-time rate for shipments. For more information on how we manage through volatility in the freight market, view our capabilities.

Transformation in Government Contracting

I think we can all agree that the year 2020 was fundamentally disruptive for both people and business. Much has been, and will continue to be written on it; I suggest this McKinsey survey for a wide view on the scope of the transformation. Even the typically circumspect Federal contracting industry has not escaped the acceleration into new modes of thinking. Beyond pandemic factors, a new administration and the implementation of long-term initiatives like the Cybersecurity Maturation Model Certification (CMMC) are also having a major effect on the contracting landscape. Below are a few of the changes to look out for in 2021 and beyond:

  1. The Executive Order on America’s Supply Chain

This is new as of late February, and I expect to have a deeper look in the coming months, but this has the potential to transform how the government purchases in fundamental ways. There are already several statutory preferences for acquiring domestic products like the Buy American and Buy America Acts, but those laws don’t extend to the production of those products. This executive order builds on several others by directing agencies to submit capability reports that detail current production capacity, gaps, and recommendations for building resilience in their supply chains. It is likely that those reports will be directive for both agency interpretation of the FAR in the short-term, and potentially for Congressional action in the long-term.

  1. The Rule of Two

While small businesses are eligible to bid on most open market solicitations, the government recognizes that the reality of unrestricted competition may reduce access for small business concerns. To protect the diversity of the contracting pool, set-aside programs mandate acquisitions from small or diverse businesses. These programs are balanced by exceptions that allow the government to make awards when small businesses cannot fulfill certain requirements, as determined by market research. One commonly used test in the research process is called the Rule of Two: For contracts under a certain threshold, the government must utilize a set-aside if there are at least two small businesses who could reasonably bid and offer a fair market price.

Recently, the discretion to apply the rule of two was litigated in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, with the COFC ruling that it is required when set-aside obligations apply. This decision provides significant clarity for small businesses, and is expected to have wide-ranging implications for contracts under $250,000.

  1. Adoption of Commercial Business Practices

Less visible is the general adoption of commercial business practices across government acquisition practices and operations. In the Department of Defense especially, public/private partnerships have resulted in significant efficiency increases and cost reductions via trial programs. The visible success of these efforts within DoD and other agencies will likely fuel further exploration of contractor integration “inside the fence”. In these scenarios, contractors often become responsible for performance goals rather than specific requirements, allowing the government more access to best-in-class commercial processes and technology. As these programs continue to develop, look for more opportunities through industry day connections and other networking events.

Separately, each of these have the potential to shape industry outlooks, combined with the underlying push toward a more digital economy they will have outsize impact on contracting for 2021 and beyond.

Rolling with the Punches: Company Culture & COVID-19

Change can be difficult. In this past year alone, there have been dramatic changes in our lives, work, politics, and society. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have faced new challenges, including the absence of face-to-face interaction. Keeping a company culture alive through a computer screen is no easy task, and each business, big or small, has had to adapt, keeping company morale, employee engagement, and overall motivation in mind.

Change and Challenges

Our team has been known for our ability to embrace the challenges that come our way and be flexible in the fast-paced environment that comes with the government contracting industry. However, when the pandemic hit, we, along with many other small businesses, were struck with change. We worked through supply chain issues, manufacturers shutting down, long lead times, price changes, and the unavailability of products and materials.

But that didn’t get us down. We rolled with the punches, maintained our entire supply chain, and kept up with our exceptional on-time delivery rate.

Through times of crisis, our team has been able to bend but not break. We adapted to challenges and made a conscious effort to provide extra support to our employees. This included:

  • Increased check-ins. Because face-to-face interactions are limited, our employees have been more intentional to check-in on each other and lend a helping hand. During the transition to working from home, employees did weekly team meetings to make sure everyone was on the same page and had the ability to ask questions to company leadership.
  • An increased effort in communication. Our President, Sue Tellier, kept an open line of communication in consistent employee news emails. These emails would highlight action items such as encouraging employees to get some fresh air or nominate other employees for excellent performance.
  • Employee wellness challenges. When the lockdown order was in place, our leadership team recognized the importance of employees getting outside for fresh air and exercise. Because of this, they developed a team wellness challenge: a competition to encourage employees to drink water, exercise, and practice gratitude during the lockdown. Along with this wellness challenge, JetCo formed an Employee Action Committee, dedicated to uncovering valuable employee feedback, keeping a pulse on morale, and implementing activities that increase employee retention and engagement.
  • Virtual get-togethers. Each year, JetCo holds a holiday party for its employees. Because we were unable to hold it in-person this holiday season, we hosted a virtual holiday happy hour, which included hand-delivered holiday gifts to employees. Our inability to celebrate the holidays in-person only strengthened our drive to keep the company culture alive and well.

Overall, COVID brought many changes, but our team quickly adapted, implementing virtual events, communicating clearly about changes, and putting the well-being of employees first. Our ability to embrace change has allowed us to work through the challenges COVID-19 brought.

What is our team doing now? We’re still rolling with the punches and will continue to work through any challenges thrown our way.

Everything You Need to Know About Cold Chain Packaging

Cold chain packaging is a system of packaging and shipping goods maintaining a consistent temperature from manufacture to final destination. JetCo Federal has developed relationships with manufacturers to supply off the shelf cold chain solutions for sale and lease, but our expertise is in custom cold chain packaging design. We can provide the full range of cold chain logistics, from packaging to conditioning to shipping.

We began developing these capabilities as a part of a strategic plan to supply more specialty packaging, but the pandemic accelerated those plans when existing clients began asking us to consult on packaging solutions for the vaccine. We are currently working with the government domestically and abroad to support the supply chain for vaccinating service members.

Types of Cold Chain Packaging

There are three types of cold chain packaging: Active, Passive, and Hybrid.

  • Active Packaging
    • Does not use phase change materials (PCM) such as water/ice or dry ice.
    • To maintain proper product temperatures, active systems use mechanical or electric systems powered by an energy source, combined with thermostatic control.
    • Typically highest cost.
    • Highest temperature accuracy.
    • High reliability.
    • Typically easy to use.
  • Passive Packaging
    • Uses PCM and is the most basic and cost-effective shipping system.
    • Lowest cost and lowest temperature accuracy.
    • High reliability with proper procedures.
    • Requires PCM conditioning.
    • Typically the hardest to use.
  • Hybrid Packaging
    • Uses a combination of PCM and thermostatic control.
    • PCM are used as an energy source that is regulated by some type of thermostatic control.
    • Moderate to high cost and moderate to high temperature accuracy.
    • Moderate reliability with proper procedures.
    • Requires PCM conditioning.

The most common types of refrigerants are dry ice, gel packs, gel bricks, phase change material (PCM), and EPS panels (expanded polystyrene or styrofoam). This type of packaging is important to ensure safe transport of pharmaceuticals, such as the COVID-19 vaccine.

How Businesses Rely on Cold Chain Packaging

Businesses in the pharmaceutical, medical and food industries are increasingly relying on cold chain packaging. Food products (such as produce, meats, and frozen food) and medical products (such as vaccines, blood, and insulin) are the most common items that utilize insulated shipping products. The quality of food and medical products degrades with time since they maintain chemical reactions, which can be mostly mitigated with lower temperatures. It takes time and coordination to move a shipment efficiently, and every delay can have negative consequences to the product.

Having a company that has expertise in not only the packaging, but in conditioning, storage, and transport is critical. We have a national network of partners who support these functions, not just local or regional partners. Additionally, our experience working with mission-critical products in high-compliance environments makes us uniquely positioned to execute in this space.

There is a high demand and low supply for these products, making it essential to have a partner who can deliver. At JetCo Federal, we embrace challenges and want to win, every single day. Whether it’s a demanding contract or thorny sourcing problem, our team delivers on time and on budget.

Interested in learning more about our cold chain packaging solutions? Talk to our team today.

 

Cybersecurity in a Cybercrime-Filled World

“Don’t you drop those gloves, little girl, keep ‘em up.”

“What’d I tell you about tucking those elbows? When you give them a rib, you give them a win. I KNOW you’re not dropping those gloves.”

Boxing sessions with my grandfather always ended with Fudgesicles and Otis Redding. He was a mountain of a man, who knew the balance between protecting yourself and as Otis said, when you’ve “got to, got to, try a little tenderness.” He taught me that boxing was similar to life. That people will punch you square in your face if you let them, but you have to protect the core of who you are or else the fight is over.

I doubt he ever believed I’d be comparing this lesson to the importance of cybersecurity and Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) requirements. Shockingly, estimates show that close to 600 billion dollars are lost each year to cybercrime. As a small business in the Defense Industrial Base (DIB), if that isn’t a punch in the face, I don’t know what is.

When CMMC was introduced, we recognized that good cyber hygiene was at the core of competing in this space. Tucking our elbows became a way of life at JetCo Federal, and we applied this concept not only to CMMC and its five levels, but also in the decision for certifications such as HAZMAT, ISO 27001, and generally any compliance that adds power to our jab-jab-cross.

*Hey Google, play Hard to Handle by Otis Redding*

Complex doesn’t put us up against the ropes. Doing the right thing and staying in the fight is what matters. Our approach to CMMC and general compliance is that it’s our ribs. Losing critical information, CUI, intellectual property, etc. can drag us out of the ring with a hard enough hit.

We’ve been working with experts since NIST 800-171 and are positioned to be quite the competitor in 2021. We continue to keep our gloves up and our elbows tucked, ready for whatever fight is to come.

The Company That Delivers to the Department of Defense Chooses Michigan as its Home Base

Specializing in difficult-to-deliver government installations, JetCo Federal says identifying the best place for business is simple.

Watch full video here: https://www.inc.com/medc/the-company-that-delivers-to-the-department-of-defense-chooses-michigan-as-its-home-base.html

 

Watch video here

Good is Baseline, Better is Competitive

I used to have a coach that would tell us “early is on time, and on time is late” when we came in for practice. If you were only ‘on time’, you ran laps, and I spent a lot of time running laps.

It wasn’t until after a few years of customer-facing professional roles that the lesson really connected: in business, meeting the requirements is not the same as being competitive (there’s a life lesson too, but that’s for another blog). Truly serving your customers isn’t about offering a good product or experience, it’s about a better product or experience. Good is baseline, but better is competitive.

Better can mean more innovative, more customized, cheaper, or faster. Whatever it means in the metrics of an individual market is where organizations need to be looking for opportunities to improve. History tells us that no matter how special our sauce is or how rarefied our position, there’s no safety from better.

Finding those opportunities is a main objective of a motivated sales team, so when one lands in their lap, it’s incumbent upon them to recognize it and act. For example, in 2019, a major JetCo client began handling hazardous materials, but without Department of Transportation (DOT) certification, we were unable to help them move it. We evaluated the opportunity, built a training plan, and brought in a partner to help get the certification for our operations staff. Our sales team also demanded certification in the spirit of better understanding the business.

Did we expect to ever rate a shipment? Would we ever need to know how to read a code on a bill of lading? Not likely, but knowing how the sausage is made was intended to help us go beyond the “yes” for our clients, and help get into that consultative, problem-solving mode that we love so much.

Fast forward to 2020, and we’re seeing the unintended effects of that decision. The same clients that asked us about HAZMAT last year are now reaching out with a new project: COVID vaccine storage and transport. As that supply chain develops, partners who can handle dry ice (it’s hazardous!), pressurized gasses, and related materials are finding themselves fielding capability requests, JetCo Federal included. Without responding to the original request with the intent of becoming better for our clients, we would have never put ourselves in the right position for these opportunities.

The lesson in this isn’t TED-talk profound, being better at something isn’t a new way to competition. The secret is building the culture of being able to identify those opportunities when they appear and harness them effectively.

 

beta.SAM.gov Becomes Official Website for U.S. Government Federal Contracts

beta.SAM.gov will become the official U.S. government website for people who make, receive, and manage federal awards. The General Services Administration (GSA) manages federal acquisition and awards processes in 10 online websites, which are now being merged into one, beta.SAM.gov. When the consolidation is complete, users will be able to seamlessly leverage vast stores of data, discover a wide range of award opportunities, and make more informed and effective award decisions. Before the merge to beta.SAM.gov, the JetCo Federal sales team used two of the ten websites for research and capture activities daily: FBO.gov or FedBizOpps and FPDS.gov Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS).

FedBizOpps

FBO.gov or FedBizOpps was the single government point-of-entry (GPE) for federal government procurement opportunities over $25,000. Government buyers were able to publicize their business opportunities by posting information directly to FedBizOpps. Through one portal, FedBizOpps, commercial vendors seeking federal markets for their products and services could search, monitor and retrieve opportunities solicited by the entire Federal contracting community. It retired one year ago on November 8, 2019.

Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS)

Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) is an automated system used to collect and report on federal procurement spending. It is the single authoritative repository for federal procurement award data. On October 17, 2020, FPDS’ reporting functions migrated into beta.SAM.gov. This includes static, standard, administrative, and ad hoc reports. The rest of FPDS functionality will remain in place at FPDS.gov. After the transition, the reports module in FPDS will be retired and beta.SAM.gov will be the only place to run contract data reports.

The transition to beta.SAM.gov will be easier for our team to navigate using one platform rather than 10 different websites. The centralized location will simplify daily tasks and increase business knowledge by providing one powerful search tool, one robust reporting tool, and one workspace to manage work.

Benefits of the Transition

Once the transition is complete, beta.SAM.gov will have the same federal business opportunity capabilities that are found today in FBO.gov. There will also be improvements, such as:

  • The ability to search for opportunities by number, keyword, or location for more precise results (including easy-to-use search filters)
  • Easy to read headers that will allow you to reference key information quickly
  • The option to access previous versions of opportunity notices with one click
  • The ability to set up notices, with a simple click, that will notify you when frequently used contract opportunities are updated
  • The ability to manage alerts easily through a new user workspace (frequency, turn on/off)
  • A user-friendly design with logical navigation and industry best practices embedded
  • Shared login, search, workspace, data services, reports, and a design that will allow you to leverage other IAE system data easily

There are many benefits from the transition that will improve our teams efficiencies and effectiveness. The transition will allow our team to find better government opportunities, which then flows down to our suppliers and allows them to have more government work. Overall, beta.SAM.gov will provide a wide range of award opportunities for government contractors.

 

JetCo Federal’s Sister Company Launches Nonprofit to Support Veterans

JetCo Federal’s sister company, JetCo Solutions, has established a nonprofit to expand their annual donation drive to focus on year-round support of veterans. This year’s Veterans Day drive will adapt their typical collection drive for local vets to be more sustainable in the face of COVID-19. Although the annual drive has been a staple of JetCo’s holiday celebrations for years, the company is adjusting their approach to include a contactless donation drive, through For the Vets, to benefit veterans living in the state’s two designated veteran’s homes.

“Normally, we get a wish list from the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, and then engage our clients and the community,” said Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Jon Tellier, President at JetCo Solutions. “This year, we’re approaching our mission a little differently. We’re solely holding a donation drive through our newly established nonprofit, For the Vets.”

The nonprofit’s mission is clear. For the Vets aims to demonstrate gratitude for retired veterans through community acts of kindness and generosity. This year’s donation drive will aim to provide funds and wish list items to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette. Both of these organizations host holiday parties for each unit in their building.

“COVID-19 has been especially hard on our veterans,” said Sarah Johnson, who is the Volunteer Coordinator at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans. “The members really look forward to events like these. Celebrations help boost the veterans’ moods, especially during a particularly tough year like 2020.”

For the Vets aims to collect enough donations to cover both locations’ celebrations and purchase additional gifts for the veterans. Since the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans also participates in Christmas Star Gift Tags, For the Vets is hoping to fulfill as many of these tags as possible.

There are four available donation tiers, ranging from $100-750. Each donation directly impacts the homes and purchases anything from an entire wish list of items to funding for one of the 16 separate holiday parties.

 

Donations for this specific initiative will be accepted November 11 – December 11 so the proceeds can be given to each home before the holiday season. If you are interested in donating, please visit forthevets.org or contact marketing@jetcosolutions.com.