WashingtonExec Series: Want To Be GovCon Executive Of The Year?
The finalists for this year’s Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards were announced last month, and as promised, WashingtonExec is bringing you its annual series with GovCon Awards all this month before the winners are unveiled November 1.
The winners will be announced at the annual gala at Marriott Wardman Park hotel in Washington, D.C., and the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, Professional Services Council (PSC) and Washington Technology magazine will present the awards. With over 1,300 business and public sector leaders attending the event, our series will keep you up to date with all the finalists for this year–who they are, what they do, and why they might be worthy of winning for their notoriety in the GovCon community.
Today’s series nominates Amyx, Inc., in the “Contractor of the Year” in the less than $25 million division. WashingtonExec caught up with Satya Akula, CEO of Amyx, to talk about the recent nomination.
WashingtonExec: How do you differentiate your company from its competitors? What is unique about your approach?
Satya Akula: Amyx is in a very unique position in that our two major contracts, (1) Department of Veterans Affairs Services For Program Excellence and Corporate Transformation Umbrella (SPECTRUM), and (2) Defense Logistics Agency Program Management Support Services (PMSS), will afford us the opportunity to bid on over $1.1 Billion of tasks over the next five years. However, the challenge is that our competitors include some of the corporate giants of our industry: Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, Grant Thornton, Boston Consulting, Jacobs, and DRC. We differentiate ourselves from these major firms by offering top level professional consulting and program management talent, combined with the flexibility and agility of a small business. Our small business flexibility allows us to recruit “hard to find” professionals in just a few days, usually at a substantially lower cost to the Government. Our small business flexibility also allows us to make on-the-spot decisions in the execution of our contracts and tasks, providing our customers with a responsiveness that they just can’t get with large contractors.
Although 97% of Amyx’s work today is on Full and Open contracts, Amyx is very aware that the Federal Government is focused on meeting its Small Business Prime Contracting goals. Thus, we are targeting several strategic Small Business Set-aside opportunities in the next 15 months. We differentiate ourselves from other small businesses in a number of ways: (1) Amyx as a small business has the rare combination of CMMI-DEV Level 3 appraised and ISO 9001-2008 certified processes to deliver top-quality services to our customers; (2) as a result of the new SBA size standards that went into effect in March, 2012, Amyx is an ideally sized small business for major initiatives; and (3) Amyx has an untouched $5 Million combination of cash and line of credit that allows us to take on major contracts without any financial risk.
WashingtonExec: How have you grown the company as the government asks the private sector to “do more with less?”
Satya Akula: We have established a mature, yet lean, Corporate Infrastructure that allows us to take on new projects of 20, 30, and 50 direct-bill professionals without any significant increase in our indirect staff and additional corporate infrastructure. This allows us to offer our employees excellent salaries and benefits, while at the same time offering a lower overall cost to the government.
WashingtonExec: What is the fastest growing component of your business?
Satya Akula: The two fastest growing areas of our business map directly to two major government initiatives: (1) DoD logistics/supply chain management and (2) support for our Veterans. Both of these vital areas will continue to receive funding.
Of course this growth is helped greatly by available contract vehicles under which this work can be captured and performed. Amyx is very proud of the fact that we have a number of contracts to facilitate our growing DoD logistics/supply chain management business area.
In September, Amyx has already been awarded 3 new task orders worth over $12 Million on our DLA PMSS contract. Amyx also has prime contracts with the DLA Office of Operations Research and Resource Analysis (DORRA) and with the Defense Acquisition Initiative’s (DAI’s) Program Management Office. To support our Veterans support business area, we have the VA SPECTRUM contract.
WashingtonExec: Obtaining top talent in government contracting is fierce -how is your company able to not only recruit top talent, but also retain it?
Satya Akula: This and the next question go hand in hand. The first thing we do to not only attract, but keep great employees is to offer good salaries and excellent benefits. One fact that Amyx ownership is proud of is that, for the past two years, our employees’ cost for their health insurance has gone DOWN! This wasn’t because we trimmed the coverage…Amyx decided to pay a larger share of the costs. We also offer an aggressive universal leave program, dollar-for-dollar 401(k) company match, company-paid education and certifications, annual bonuses tied to well-defined performance criteria, and spot bonuses for exceeding customer expectations. Every year, each manager sits down with every employee and creates a professional development plan for that employee.
WashingtonExec: What is your corporate culture? How do you maintain satisfied employees?
Satya Akula: Our corporate culture is best represented by our Mission Statement:
• To exceed our customers’ expectations on every task order of every contract
• To provide an environment that encourages, recognizes, and rewards the extraordinary contributions of our employees
• To advance the well-being of the communities in which we work
Amyx’s Chairman, Scott Amey, is often asked for the “secret to your success at RS Information Systems (from 1993 to 2004) and now Amyx”. The answer is a simple one…take care of your customers and your employees. In addition to the activities described in the previous question, Amyx maintains satisfied employees by fostering excellent communications and a sense of family. Every Friday, our Chief Operating Officer sends an email to all of our employees that highlights the activities of the week. These emails often cite the extra efforts our project teams put forth to meet project deadlines.
We also have fun together, with annual holiday parties, summer events, and regular employee lunches. We have semi-annual “All Hands” Meetings to keep employees up to date on company progress and future goals and objectives.
Amyx also follows a policy of promotion from within. Our CEO, COO, Senior Director of Defense Programs, Senior Director of Civilian Programs, Senior Director of Business Operations, and Senior Director of Finance and Contracts were ALL promoted into their current positions. Good employees who see that happening want to stay with us!
WashingtonExec: How has the government contracting industry changed since you entered the sector?
Satya Akula: Since Scott Amey, Satya Akula, Mark Hughes, Dave Karlgaard, and Jim Porter acquired Amyx in January, 2008, the federal contracting industry has encountered some serious challenges. A few years ago, the federal government launched a significant “insourcing” initiative in an attempt to reduce costs (which we don’t believe was realized). For the last two years the Government has significantly cut government contracting expenditures. Perhaps because of uncertainties surrounding the federal budget, contract awards seem to take longer and longer, sometimes as long as 2-3 years.
As a small business without any other socio-economic status such as 8(a), Service Disabled Veteran Owned, Woman Owned, or Hub Zone, Amyx has achieved consistent growth by focusing on high quality performance (that’s always first!) and capture of strategic IDIQ prime contracts such as VA SPECTRUM and DLA PMSS.
Recently, federal contracting has placed emphasis on achieving its small business prime contracting goals.
This focus, combined with the Small Business Administration’s adjustment of 37 small business size standards in March 2012, offers Amyx an excellent window of opportunity.
We have made investments in our Business Development team to take advantage of this opportunity.
WashingtonExec: Does your company have a Bring Your Own Device Policy (BYOD)? What has been your largest challenge with this policy? How is the “mobile workforce” changing the way you conduct business within your company and with the federal government?
Satya Akula: Since most of Amyx’s employees work at government sites with government-furnished equipment, “Bring your own Device” does not play a significant role in our everyday operations. However, realizing that our workforce is mobile, and often work from home or while travelling, we:
• Push Amyx email to their IPhones, IPADs, and other mobile devices
• Allow employee devices to connect with our corporate wireless network
• Provide employees with “registered” laptops that have VPN connectivity
• Allow all corporate employees to have Remote Desktop connectivity to their office desktop computer
Due to our excellent in-house IT Manager, we have not experienced any significant challenges.
WashingtonExec: How is your company involved in the community?
Satya Akula: As previously indicated, one of the tenants of Amyx’s mission is to advance the well-being of the communities in which we work. Perhaps the best example of this occurred in June at our annual summer picnic, where during the first hour of the picnic Amyx employees assembled “Care Packages” that were sent to soldiers from the local area who are serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. The packages contained all sorts of “goodies” for the soldiers, as well as hand-written letters expressing our thanks for their service to our country.
Each year every Amyx project site participates in one or more community events. These have included:
• New Hope Housing (Thanksgiving meals, Holiday gifts)
• March of Dimes (Bikers for Babies campaign, NTDA scholarships)
• DC Central Kitchen (Thanksgiving meals)
• Veterans Transition Center (Health and Welfare support)
• Carpenter Shelter (Beautification)
• Moose Lodge (Thanksgiving meals
Scott Amey, Amyx’s Chairman, has made personal gifts, each greater than $1 Million, to the Georgetown University Lombardi Cancer Center and to the George Washington University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.