When Jeff Woodson created the administrative, management and IT services consulting company Encore Services in 2010, he garnered federal contracts immediately. Since then, the company has gone on to count agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Homeland Security, Government Services Administration and Internal Revenue Service, as customers, offering services such as financial management systems, PMO oversight, administrative and HR services, system engineering and development, and IV&V testing.
The roots of that success were planted almost by chance. Woodson, a retired U.S. Army soldier, had been working at the Pentagon, when a chance meeting with Claude Bolton sparked an idea: to start his own business.
Recently, Woodson sat down with WashingtonExec to talk about Encore and how it’s exceeded its status expectations as a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business. “We are a small business culture with a large business capability skillset,” says Woodson. Read on to discover what big plans lay ahead for Encore and its teaming partners.
WashingtonExec: Tell us about your background.
Jeff Woodson: I’m retired from the Army. I spent 20 years in the military in various divisions. My last 10 years I transferred into the Special Operations/Special Forces and saw the world. I also got to focus more on the operations side and project/program management; that allowed me to develop the skillsets for project and program management in IT, the operational side of program and project management, leadership management and the human capital experience.
WashingtonExec: Tell us about how you started Encore.
Jeff Woodson: When I retired from the military, my last assignment was in the Pentagon. I was a contractor for L3 Communications. I moved up the ladder fairly quickly and did a lot of senior meetings and briefings. One meeting in particular stands out – I worked for a GS15 and we were going to brief then Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Bolton. Mr. Bolton wanted to create a platform that captured his entire PEO portfolio and its resources. He gave us a 12-month task — we completed it in about10 months. Long story short, a few months later I was walking with one of the undersecretaries. He said that he had a meeting with Mr. Bolton and he asked if I ever thought about doing my own thing. A few years later, I thought about Encore Services and in August 2010 it took off like a rabbit.
WashingtonExec: You’ve been working on your 8(a) certification. How has that helped position your company for growth?
Jeff Woodson: We are aggressively pursuing our 8(a) certification with a viable and strategic plan going forward with this certification. Now, I have a strategic plan and have positioned ourselves with federal government clients. We’re also looking at positioning ourselves in the civilian sector after the 8(a) is gone. That’s where we are. We are going to show growth not only on the federal side but on the commercial side as well.
WashingtonExec: What hot trends are your customers sharing with you that will impact your business?
Jeff Woodson: Two of my clients, the VA and Agriculture, have expressed a need for more staff training. Another thing on their list is financial management. Another one of my clients talked about cyber security. That’s a big thing going on in all of the agencies as well as electronic healthcare systems. I would pick those things to appear on Encore’s list of “getting things done” — and together with our teaming partners.
WashingtonExec: What are some of the challenges of running your own business?
Jeff Woodson: Our slogan is, “Performance Determines Success.” We are there for the long haul. We’re committed 24 hours a day. I tell all of my clients my personal cell phone number and they can call me 24 hours a day — I will guarantee that I will get back with you in 30 minutes – I don’t care what time it is. That dedication and commitment is less a challenge and more something we’ve committed to doing.
WashingtonExec: What will Encore Services look like in three years?
Jeff Woodson: I envision Encore as one of the most solid small businesses due to our presence in the government sector. We look to be one of the quickest-growing professional services companies within the next 36 to 48 months. That’s the plan – we’ll be able to position ourselves financially to move forward and continue business for a long time to come.
WashingtonExec: What’s something most people don’ know about you personally?
Jeff Woodson: The biggest thing that people don’t know about me is that last year I was in a battle for my life with cancer — 98 percent cancer. I am happy to say, I am now a cancer survivor!
WashingtonExec: Where do teaming partners fit into your future?
Jeff Woodson: We welcome all teaming partners, not only for short-term engagements but for the long term. I want my partners to know that 5 or 10 years down the line I still want to be working with them. You can ask any of my previous teaming partners that I’ve worked with that Encore is a true mark of integrity — together we can help one another and move forward.