Government Micro Resources Inc.

Government Micro Resources Inc.

Humberto "Tico" Pujals, founder and CEO
Manassas, Va.
Contracts: $65.645 million

Humberto "Tico" Pujals, founder and chief executive officer of Government Micro Resources Inc., says the federal government needs to rejuvenate the 8(a) small business assistance program before it withers away.

Pujals said the Small Business Administration's set-aside program has helped his Manassas, Va.-based firm a great deal. GMR will graduate from the 8(a) program at the end of the month.

"I would love to get in front of Congress and tell them how great this program was and how sad I am that ... somehow, some way it is not being continued," Pujals said. "Right now it is chained, you really can't do much with the 8(a) program."

The 8(a) program has been hurt by the bundling of federal government purchases into bigger contracts, he said. "Contracting officers don't want to give contracts worth $3 million and $5 million, they want to give large contracts. Now you are seeing all these [blanket purchase agreements] popping up everywhere for $100 million."

The removal of the maximum order limitation on the General Services Administration schedule and the Supreme Court's 1995 decision in the Adarand Constructors Inc. vs. Pena case also had a negative effect on the 8(a) program, Pujals said.

"The program has treated me magnificently well," he said. "If you are willing to put a lot of sweat on the brow, you can really build a company through the 8(a) program," he said. Pujals, a first-generation Hispanic American, owns 100 percent of GMR, but said he plans to bring in two minority shareholders.

Pujals started the company in the basement of his home in November 1981, back when the personal computer industry was still in its infancy.

Last year, GMR had roughly $115 million in sales and is projected to have about $140 million this year. GMR, a provider of computer and telecommunications products and services, gets about 38 percent of its business from 8(a) contracts. The company ranked No. 3 on a list of the top 8(a) companies based on prime contract obligations received last year, according to research firm Input of Vienna, Va.

GMR officials put a transition plan into place almost two years ago to prepare for the company's graduation from the 8(a) program. That plan involved moving from being a product fulfillment house to being a total solutions provider, Pujals said. The company organized into several strategic business units, including ones devoted to networking, software engineering, Internet and groupware, computer telephony and year 2000 solutions.

NASA is currently GMR's biggest customer. Other customers include the departments of Justice, Labor and Education, and the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Pujals said GMR has been successful because it has focused on customer satisfaction. "The goal in the end was that the customer would shake our hand and give us another contract," he said. "We would always give 125 percent to our customer. We gave them more than what they needed in terms of service and that is why we have had such great customer loyalty."

To stay viable, GMR will steer away from providing commodities with narrow profit margins and concentrate on new technologies. "Our goal is to study bleeding-edge technology and implement it when it becomes cutting-edge, so that we can truly provide our customer a new service and something that brings a true return on investment," he said.

Video engineering is one of those areas, Pujals said. "We believe the whole marketplace will eventually go to a network computer that's a TV set in a computer. And everything that we are doing is becoming more visual," he said. Applications for this technology include getting training videos on demand, using recorded depositions in the courtroom and the ability to organize video databases.

Pujals said he is putting an extra emphasis on teaming arrangements with large prime contractors, because the pendulum has swung away from small business in the federal marketplace. He said it could take five to seven years for the government to realize that small business has been hurt by its procurement changes. Small businesses are important to the U.S. economy because they create jobs and foster innovation, he said.

"I believe the federal government has got to do something to rejuvenate the 8(a) program under a different name, maybe take away the racial overtones and make [the qualification criteria for businesses that are] economically disadvantaged," Pujals said. "If you are a white person who is economically disadvantaged, you should be able to join part of the program. By doing that, you would take away any resistance people would have to the program based on racial quotas."

- Patrick Seitz

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