Contractor: Veterans serve their country in many ways (with related video)
Veterans Day (Nov. 11) is a reminder of the strength and sacrifice that members of the U.S. armed forces demonstrate daily. When veterans return home, many continue to serve the country as small business owners. In many cases, these businesses provide goods and services to federal, state and local governments.
Government Product News talked to Amber Peebles about some of the ways that veterans can succeed once they leave the military. Peebles is a Marine Corps veteran. She is also president of Dumfries, Va.-based Athena Construction Group. In 2012 Athena was named the American Express OPEN Small Business Contractor of the Year.
Athena Construction Group is a general contractor focusing primarily on interior renovations with self-perform in-house subcontracting expertise in doors frames and hardware installation. Here are Amber Peebles’ views.
GPN: Do you currently sell to governments? — Federal, state or local agencies?
Amber Peebles: Our primary government customer is federal, but recently we have been awarded some state sub-contracted highway work and we are interested in pursuing more of this.
GPN: Does being a veteran-owned business help your firm land government contracts?
AP: Yes, being a Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Business (SDVOB), Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and HUBZone construction company has given us a competitive advantage and great exposure. Also, SDVOB companies benefit from having work set-aside exclusively for this category.
A recent American Express OPEN survey found only 10 percent of all active small business contractors are certified SDVOBs, so it’s a great differentiator for us when seeking contracting opportunities. The WOSB certification is also incredibly helpful. The same report found 61 percent of WOSBs find the designation useful in winning contracts.
GPN: Do you seek to hire military veterans at your company?
AP: Yes, most definitely. Right now, our company employs three Marines, one Navy veteran, an Army Ranger and an Army reservist.
GPN: What skills do you feel veterans bring to the table? Do they offer a can-do attitude?
AP: For us, we like hiring veterans because we have common experiences and “speak the same language.” Our job offers aren’t necessarily predicated exclusively on someone’s veteran status, but it does give us insight as to the individual’s approach to accomplishing task.
GPN: In your opinion, why is it important for the government to hire veterans?
AP: Veterans are known to get the job done. Right now, clearly our government is struggling to operate with accountability, competency and efficiency. An influx of motivated veterans might help shape the culture of various departments. Furthermore, it is a national disgrace for a service member to fight in a war and then get discharged and be without meaningful job prospects. To that end, I think it is appropriate for these veterans to go to the front of the line for consideration for employment.
GPN: Thank you Amber Peebles, for your views.
In the video, Amber Peebles accepts the American Express OPEN Victory in Procurement Award for Government Contractor of the Year.