Evans Incorporated is among the finalists for the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Professional Services Council’s annual Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards in the contractor of the year category for companies up to $25 million. The winners will be announced at an awards program Nov. 5.
WashingtonExec spoke with Founder and CEO Sue Evans about the company’s work with Project Lifesaver, its exponential growth in recent years, and why leaders are optimistic about being recognized at this year’s GovCon Awards.
WashingtonExec: What is your organization’s growth plan over the next three to five years?
Evans: Evans developed a new long-term vision for the company this year that will allow us to honor the human-centered “roots” we’ve established over the last 25 years while evolving our brand and capabilities to better meet market needs. Using conservative growth assumptions, we will focus on:
- Continued organic growth within our existing client base (our long-term clients at Ford, the Federal Aviation Administration and the International Monetary Fund.
- Diversifying our federal portfolio through increased, targeted business development at adjacent agencies such as NASA and TSA, other agencies that use the Professional Services Schedule, and potential acquisitions of a contract or company.
- Building a commercial sector consulting line of business designed to meet the different demands and pace of the private sector.
- Investing in an internal innovation function to design client experiences, products and solutions directly connected to our target market needs.
WashingtonExec: What was your organization’s largest accomplishment in the last 12 to 18 months?
Evans: In 2017, Evans Incorporated created a new division, PropelUAS, with the aim of leveraging 100 combined years of air traffic management and UAS subject matter expertise with consulting skills. We’ve helped the FAA develop and communicate regulations with the intent of safely integrating drones into the U.S. airspace. PropelUAS helps organizations take drone use from IDEA to OPERATIONS by navigating the regulatory hurdles while driving top efficiency and value throughout the process.
Our company is extremely proud of the community impact driven through a PropelUAS project with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. LCSO wanted to use their drone for various operations, including using it as part of the county’s Project Lifesaver program, an electronic tracking system that locates people with medical conditions, such as autism or Alzheimer’s, who wander away from home. Evans trained their drone pilots, enabling them to gain their FAA drone pilot certification and to operate their drone across multiple scenarios. We also used our expertise around drone regulations to complete their applications for waivers and certificates of authorization to conduct drone operations.
The impact of the project is that LCSO has been able to rescue three individuals since Evans helped them operationalize their drone. In one case, a 92-year-old man went missing, and the drone was launched. Within 20 minutes, the missing man was found in the Shenandoah woods. The story got areawide media coverage and we are supremely proud that our company played a role in helping save a life.
WashingtonExec: What are the largest challenges your business will face in the next five years?
Evans: The first challenge is recent rapid growth of our company. Over the last five years, we have seen our numbers increase by nearly 250 percent. Although this is an exciting time for our business, we want to avoid the problems that can accompany rapid business growth such as challenges preserving our culture, non-adherence to our strategic plan, hiring staff sooner than anticipated, choosing the wrong people when hiring quickly, and outgrowing our office space. Growth is good and we welcome it, but sustainable growth is better.
In addition, after 25 years at the helm of Evans, I will be transitioning to a strategic adviser role to Evans in 2019. This path for transition was started over five years ago — and more formally set in 2016. The process has involved internal coaching, assignments, opportunities and actions, aided by external advisers and coaches. The process is also carefully planned to ensure that the values, beliefs and behaviors — the DNA and culture of Evans — are preserved going forward. We are cautious to ensure that, for all Evans’ employees, the transition of ownership of the company provides a familiar platform for its continued growth and success.
WashingtonExec: How does your organization encourage employee engagement?
Evans: In addition to playing a part in creating the company’s 2025 vision and strategic plan, Evans employees participate in an Annual Voice of the Employee engagement survey. This survey is a forum for staff to provide honest feedback on many aspects of the organization — and for Evans management to absorb and act on the feedback in ways that strengthen the company. The leadership team communicates results and uses themes and gaps to determine initiatives for the future.
In addition to the VoE survey, Evans administered a benefits-specific survey to assess satisfaction with health, disability, vision, dental and 401K benefits. The actions that emerged were to improve communication to staff on the state of the market, especially regarding prescription drug coverage, and ensure that benefits materials, contacts and FAQs are readily available to all regardless of geographic location. Another method used to encourage team spirit is the use of Goodseeker — a web platform where employees can publicly acknowledge stories of success and demonstrate to peers that they are appreciated and valued.
WashingtonExec: How is your business involved in the community?
Evans: Evans integrates our mission with our corporate social responsibility activities and events. Our mission statement is: “Smart leaders conquering complex challenges with a human-centered approach.” Participation in Evans’ CSR Committee provides leadership opportunities and a chance for employees to creatively conquer community challenges involving causes that are important to them and which align with Evans’ CSR focus on women and family health. The company provides matching funds and encourages staff to donate time and resources to promote a cleaner environment, family health and other sponsored and personal causes. Our fitness-minded staff participate in charity walks and runs. Evans has a dedicated employee-led CSR committee that benefits from company executive sponsorship. In 2017, over 75 percent of Evans’ employees participated in Evans-sponsored events and events of their choosing, with many participating in three or more activities.
Sue Evans, Evans’ CEO, serves on the board of The Women’s Center and is actively involved in organizing events and fundraising. The Women’s Center, located in Vienna, Virginia, is the largest provider of mental health services in Northern Virginia. Evans has been an annual sponsor at their Annual Leadership Conference since 2013 — allowing us to invite Evans staff and expose them to an exceptional day of speakers and workshops. This year, we sponsored two tables for 20 women.
Additionally, we have regularly sponsored the TWC Gala, regularly securing new sponsors for the gala. Each employee is encouraged to volunteer in the community, both through Evans and on their personal time. Employees support many nonprofit organizations such as the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, St. Jude’s, Kick for Nick, Salvation Army and others.
WashingtonExec: How has your organization changed over the past year, and what makes you optimistic about winning GovCon Awards in your category this year?
Evans: As it approaches its 25th year in business, Evans is a swiftly growing company. Twelve new employees have been hired to date in 2018, which brings our numbers to 63. More hires are planned before the end of the year.
As we have grown, our brand has become better known in the industry, giving us more visibility in the marketplace. Evans has a unique human-centered approach to our work, which distinguishes us from our competition. We believe our peers are now better aware of us, and appreciate our reputation, our determination and our work. With our passion for excellence, our achievements and growth over the last year, our positive feedback from our clients, all combined with our Evans “brand,” we are optimistic and hopeful that we will be recognized not only for Evans’ hard work and innovative techniques, but because of GovCon’s talent in choosing trailblazers in the D.C. area.