Akima Logistics Services aims to turn the complexity of government aerospace logistics into easy and effective solutions for its customers. A small business among Akima’s portfolio of 40 companies, ALS combines strategic investments in personnel and a commitment to delivering high quality work to establish itself as a trusted provider of logistics services capable of handling large, multi-site aircraft work.
“We do everything necessary to ensure quality repairs are completed and we are hitting readiness rates for those fleets of aircraft,” said Scott Rauer, president of Akima Facilities Solutions Group.
ALS provides a broad range of services that support demanding air operations, including aircraft maintenance, hands-on repairs by field support representatives, fuel management, and supply chain functionality to ensure parts are available where and when they are needed.
A string of recent large contract wins positions ALS to support aviation operations for many years to come:
- In January 2020, ALS was awarded a seat on the Aircraft Maintenance Enterprise Solution IDIQ contract, a strategic sourcing vehicle for Air Force-wide contracted aircraft maintenance with a total value of $14 billion.
- In May 2020, the company was selected as an awardee on the Kits, Recovery, Augmentation, Components and Engines Multiple Award Contract, a $6.1 billion enterprise contract vehicle supporting the U.S. Navy.
- In April, ALS earned a spot on the U.S. Air Force Rotary Wing Maintenance Contract Consolidation IDIQ, which has a ceiling value of $835 million and a 10-year period of performance. ALS was the only small business awarded a seat on both the small business and full and open competitions of the IDIQ.
The rotary wing contract offers a good example of how a single big win can shape a company’s trajectory.
“Any work that the Air Force needs on its rotary wing aircraft will come out of those contract vehicles,” said ALS General Manager Shannon Carney. By winning a place on the IDIQ, “we’re now in a position to support the Air Force for the next decade.”
How has ALS has been able to build momentum around its logistics offerings? The formula for success is pretty simple. “When you have government customers that trust you, then you gain more work,” Rauer said.
“You don’t win a seat on the full and open contracting side without presenting bona fides that give the government confidence that you can handle the large opportunities when they come out,” Rauer added. “Some of these contracts to support the rotary wing aircraft could be hundreds of millions of dollars. We were viewed as having the commensurate level of competency to handle those large, complicated, multi-site complex aircraft jobs.”
In the eyes of government, past success is the best indicator of future performance. For a government contractor like ALS, each contract win puts the company in a better position to pursue future opportunities. To seize on those opportunities, the company needs to continue delivering on its promises.
“For companies that have had a smaller portfolio of recent and relevant past performances, government will give them a shot at taking on a larger job so long as your contractor performance assessment reports — your CPARs — really stand out,” Rauer said.
To score high marks on the annual assessment, a government contractor has to hit metrics in key areas like readiness rates and turnaround times. “It all comes down to the quality of the services you provide,” Carney said.
How to drive that high level of performance is the daily challenge for Akima management.
“In many cases, we will inherit the workforce that the previous contractor employed,” Rauer said. “Then it’s up to us to make them awesome employees. We bring in known processes, we deliver trainings, and we have shared services that help ensure the quality is infused into the work on the job site.”
Those shared services are a key piece of the formula: Centralized resources help to ensure a consistent level of quality across the enterprise. At the same time, ALS also encourages a high degree of local autonomy.
“It’s centralized resourcing, but decentralized decision-making,” Rauer said. “That only works if you have talent at the site program-manager level, and so we invest a ton of time in choosing and grooming and training the person on the ground. Then they are given the authority to make critical decisions in a timely fashion, while management stands behind them, ready to facilitate their success.”
Looking ahead, ALS executives said they aim to continue landing a high share of the work off of the company’s existing IDIQs, while also extending Akima’s reach into new areas, including work performed for non-DOD entities and overseas.
Company executives say the key to future wins will be Akima’s steadfast investments in the logistics enterprise. As a privately-held company, they say, Akima is able to take a longer-term view of the market.
“We understand that the business we’re in is a multi-year effort for the federal government,” Carney said. “We’re not looking for short-term gains. This is about providing services at the highest quality level from a multi-year perspective, delivering a long-lived asset to our customers so that government continues to select us to do good work in the future.”