Veterans continue serving their country as vendors to governments
Kurt A. Walker, owner of a Batteries Plus store in Newport News, Va., served his country for 21 years in the U.S. Air Force. He continues to serve by supplying state, local and federal agencies with batteries and police radios, as well as facility maintenance products, including emergency exit lights, fire alarm panels and scrubbers. His firm also sells an assortment of accessories to government agencies, including chargers and cables.
“I think it’s important that state and local governments support service-disabled veteran-owned businesses,” Walker told GovPro.com. “To me, it’s like giving back somewhat. We continue to support our country and support our state and municipalities where we live. For us, it’s providing service — service before self — and at the same time making a living from it.”
Nationwide, the Batteries Plus retail chain serves many public sector customers from its 353 stores in 42 states and Puerto Rico. Its stores supply municipalities, fire and police departments, the armed forces, school districts and state and federal agencies.
Gloria Berthold Larkin, author of “The Veterans Business Guide: How to Build a Successful Government Contracting Business,” www.theveteransbusinessguide.com, offered some additional reasons to GovPro.com why governments need to support veteran-owned firms.
“It is important for government agencies at all levels to open the doors to doing business with veterans because it is simply good business! As a whole, veteran business owners take their commitment to doing the best job possible very seriously. They go the extra mile as a normal matter of course. And even better, they understand the required methods and processes and can work within the stated rules and regulations — something that many entrepreneurs may have a difficult time doing.
“The veteran entrepreneurs I have worked with also have a great ability to drill down to practical solutions for problems — and stay with it until it works. Their pragmatic approach builds trust and respect, and their loyalty is a given as well. Who would not want a team like that working for them?”
The Veterans Administration (VA) has a variety of resources that can assist veterans in landing government contracts and doing business with the public sector. A Web site, www.vetbiz.gov, has information on starting a business and entering the federal marketplace. The site is linked to Vendor Information Pages (VIP), a free, online database of veteran business owners. Federal procurement staffers and federal contractors use the VIP to locate veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. Another database at the site lists local, state and national sources of assistance for businesses.
Bob Filner, D-Calif., chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, offered these thoughts to GovPro.com on the importance of supporting veteran-owned businesses: “America’s veterans have fulfilled their promise to our country, and we need to stand in support of their efforts to reintegrate to civilian life. One way is to support veteran-owned small businesses. Not only is small business important to any economic recovery, but our grateful nation must recognize the sacrifices made by our veterans to forgo their personal ambitions and defend our country.”
GovPro.com hopes to spotlight other veteran-owned businesses that serve government agencies. Please provide contact information for the businesses to [email protected].
Part 2: Veterans seeking opportunities as vendors to governments
Part 3: Veterans group calls on state and local governments to support veteran-owned businesses
Part 4: Another vote in support of veteran-owned businesses