Author Archives: mimin

What Causes Copper Pipe to Fail?

download (19)Sadly, copper pipes don’t last forever, though they do last quite long, sometimes more than a lifetime. However, usually they’ll get around 25 years, and that’s if the water condition is conducive to the pipes. Changes in the chemistry of water can make it rough on copper pipes, and lead to copper pipe repair. In most cases they will not affect the quality of the water, but will certainly cause the property owner to lose money.

As the most commonly used material for plumbing systems, copper is easy to use and resists corrosion. It also is impermeable to gases and liquids which is an added bonus. For over 50 years, copper piping has been the go to material for domestic water supply, and it can be found in the majority of buildings today.

Anyone who notices warm spots on the floor, ceilings or walls, we carpeting, or very high water bills should consider that copper pipe repair many be needed. They should immediately contact a repair specialist for a consultation to see what their options are between traditional options and the latest methods to include trenchless pipe replacement.

Pinhole Leaks

Pinhole leaks are the result of perforation of copper tubing, fittings or pipe in domestic distribution of water, and the result of corrosion initiated by pitting on the inside or waterside surface of the pipe. Inside pitting and corrosion of copper piping may be rare, but when discovered becomes an expensive problem that quickly results in pinhole leaks. The chemistry of the water itself has been found to cause the pitting.

The pinhole leak is a common copper pipe repair, and so professionals continue to try to detect pitting corrosion before it turns into pinhole leaks. Of course, these leaks could occur in any tube or pipe made of copper within the house. Most leaks are found in older homes and businesses, definitely before 1970.

Copper Corrosion

while there are various types of corrosion, pinhole leaks are caused by pitting corrosion in copper plumbing most of all. The attacks are definitely localized, and non-uniform in characteristic. Various, small areas are typically attacked.

There are three main types of pitting corrosion:

  • Soft Water – This type of pitting is possible in various soft waters of pH below 7.2, it’s narrower than in hard water, but still causes failure in pipes.
  • Hard Water – This pitting is found in hard waters that have a pH of 7 to 7.8, and it is most common in cold water applications. Pits are narrow and deep and cause pipes to fail.
  • Cold and Soft Water with High pH Level – This pitting happens in soft, cold waters with a pH above 8. It’s generalized and has shallow, wide results in blue water, pipe blocking and byproduct releases.

Water Velocity

High rates of water flow can erode the coating of bare copper, and cause copper pipe repairs. It also results in high corrosion once eroded. The biggest effect is when forced water changes the flow direction and damages the whole system.

Repair Choices

Today, property owners have many options of which to choose. Yet, none of them consider the main cause of the issue, but just correct detected symptoms. Options are not cheap for copper pipe repairs, and they include:

  • Fixing the leak by application of external solder
  • Re-plumbing the whole property
  • Replacing the tube in sections
  • Re-plumbing and putting PVC in place of the copper
  • Buying cures, such as magnets
  • Coating with epoxy

In the end, there are many choices when it comes to copper pipe repairs. Home and business owners owe it to themselves to explore them all, and have their property examined by a professional who can make smart recommendations.


What Every Property Owner Should Know About Pipe Replacement

download (18)Trenchless sewer repair

In most cases, a professional plumber can be trusted when in need of sewer repair. Replacement is a huge cost, and is unavoidable unfortunately. It’s important to note that before a property is sold, the owner has to report any potential issues to buyers, so it’s smart to get it taken care of and avoid any drama.

When it comes to an expensive repair like this, it’s important to shop around for the best deal. One should also make sure any contractor is bonded, licensed, and has references that can be checked. Expect most bids to be thousands so there is no shock.

History of Piping

First off, if there is any clay pipe it needs to be removed. Cleaning is never a good option and will only delay the inevitable which is replacement. Use of copper sulfate or rock salt is not a great idea as it will create more work by the owner having to remove the tree permanently, and then fix up the yard.

Clay sewer pipe has not been used for a very long time, as joints were packed by mortar and movement of the soil breaks them with ease along with tree roots. They are just not a smart choice, of course builders had no way of knowing this decades ago.

After clay pipes came iron and they featured a similar bell joint to the clay pipes. They were joined using hemp oil and molten lead. Though the joint was stronger, it still didn’t withstand the eventual movement of earth. After clay and iron, no hub cast iron and rubber couplings with steel bands were used. They couldn’t withstand root infiltration though.

The Pipes of Today

Today most locations use plastic piping. Plastic pipe uses glued joints, and many are looking into trenchless sewer repair. For trenchless sewer repairs, a cable is pulled through the existing pipe after careful examination, and hooked to a bursting head. That head is hooked to the new pipe. It splits the current pipe and pushes it out-of-the-way as the new one is pulled in. It has the same diameter as the old or can be increased in size if the home or business owner decides.

This way of trenches sewer repair only needs one hole at each end of the line, and no trench which is usually a mess. Hence, why many prefer it over traditional methods.

Downsides of Trenchless Sewer Repair

While being the perfect option to other methods, there are some downfalls to trenchless sewer repair. If the company is fairly new and not knowledgeable about how to pass inspection, it may become a headache that no one wants. One of the main concerns is pooling water at a low spot in the line. However, if discussed before installation this can be avoided.

Other issues are deflection and sag which cause concerns. Experienced crews know what deflections in the current line can be taken out, but it depends largely on soil conditions, and the degree of deflection. A less brutal soil like sand allows for deflections to be removed but soil like shale is not so kind.

Further, proximity of utilities is an issue in some cases. The method used can damage other lines depending on how close they are to the action when the outer pipe is pushed away. No one wants gas leaks or cut water lines. Contractors must mark existing lines and formulate a plan to make sure there’s enough room for the installation.

Yet, trenchless sewer repair is still the most cost-effective and least disruptive method today. Simply taking care to verify the experience of any contractor before signing on the dotted line will make sure that it’s done effectively.


Choose Reliable Filler Masterbatches

download (17)Filler masterbatches are filler compounds that are calcium carbonate based. They are used in the plastic industry to modify properties of plastic polymers of base plastic. The specially formulated compounds improve the physical properties of the polymer thus reducing the production costs of the products in question. The masterbactches that have good dispersion coupled with environmental protection improve surface antifriction, toughness, heat stability, rigidity, hardness and also increase plastic products gravity.

Filler masterbatch is used widely in blow molding, wire drawing, injection molding, blow film, slip casting, extrusion molding and even dyeing. They replace plastic material use, reducing the cost of producing the products for consumers. There are three major options when it comes to them.

Transparent – The transparent option is mainly inorganic transparent powder additive agents and polymer resin compounded and has refraction that is close to polyolefin plastics. To improve the plastic product transparency and reduce production cost, it is used in high and medium quality polyolefin products such as wire drawings, moldings extrusion and film blowing among others.

Nano – This model is an advanced new technology adoption using multilayer surface modified technique so that the nano calcium carbonate disperses in the most even way possible in filler compounding. This type improves bending strength, toughness, and rigidity compared to normal filler masterbatches. It also improves plastic product fluidity, heat stability and size stability as well as printing definition. The market for this filler materbatch is expansive and it is widely used in blowing, tube and pipe, injection, molding and casting among other products. Automobile, home appliances and motorcycle parts and other engineered plastics also use this masterbatch.

Calcium carbonate – This filler masterbatches are made of micro sized high quality calcium carbonate and they have very good filler properties and whiteness. They improve plastic product characters and at the same time reduce the production costs. The filler masterbatch has strong aging and antioxygen resistance, good dispersion and good anti-pressure reduced contractibility that decreases deformation for product contractibility. This is the perfect filler masterbatch type for products such as casting film, woven bags, garbage bags, packing belt, sheet, pipe, snack box and appliance shell among others.

The grades

Filler masterbatch comes in grades and it is important to know the appropriate grade for the type of plastic products that you are producing. The most common grades include plast white that modifies mechanical and physical properties, plast stiff that improves stiffness and modifies mechanical and physical properties and plast clear that acts like nucleating agent to maintain polymer clarity and improve the woven sacks gloss. Plast supreme improves output and imparts opacity besides improving physical properties whereas the plast fill improves blown film extrusion output and improves the physical properties.

The grades may differ from one manufacturer to another. If you are not very sure what filler masterbatch grade is best for your application, then it is best that you let the professionals take you through the options to make the best decision.


Is Export Trade Finance Important Today?

download (15)For businesses concentrating only on the domestic market, they may miss out on different opportunities the international market offers. If you make a foray into the international market, you may increase your profit as well as protect your business from the negative effects of slowed-down growth. Apart from that, this will allow you to diversify your portfolio.

Among the most crucial ingredients for success in the exportation business is export trade finance. Exporters want to get paid for their products as fast as possible. On the other hand, customers from foreign markets would want to delay payment until they’ve received the products or perhaps resold these. To become competitive, your company must be capable of offering payment terms which are very attractive to possible partners.

Important Factors To Consider When Selecting The Best Financing Option

The amount of time in which the product is financed – This is considered the most important factor to consider. Experts highly emphasized that your choice of financing will be greatly influenced by how long you’ll wait before receiving the payment.

The cost of financing options – If there are several financing options to choose from, you have to look into them meticulously, most especially the interest rates. Be reminded that these costs can greatly influence the products’ price along with your potential profit.

Risks – Transactions are not created equal. There are those that are riskier than others. Experts have emphasized that the riskier the transaction is, the more you’ll find it hard to finance. Economic and political stability can actually compound or increase these risks.

Amount of orders – If you are receiving plenty of orders, your working capital might not be sufficient to meet such increased demand.

Getting Expert Help

You can actually get help from commercial banks with an international department when it comes to dealing with the export trade finance needs of your company. Choose banks that are familiar with the export business. These banks will provide your firm with a wide range of international banking services.

After finding this kind of bank, consider scheduling a visit with the international department for you to know and be aware of the different matters like your export plan, banking facilities, services, and the applicable charges. In case your partner importer fails to pay for the transaction, your business will bear the responsibility of paying for the loan. With the use of instruments like letters of credit as well as credit insurance, you and your chosen bank can greatly benefit from the improvement of the export receivables’ quality.


The Death of the Professional Beauty Industry

download (14)The Professional Beauty Industry as I once knew it, is dead. Having spent the past forty five years in our once proud industry at every level, my purpose in writing this article is to document by decade, starting with the 60’s which is when I came into the industry, the dynamics that drove that decade with the evolution of the Industry moving forward, so we can all see where everything started shifting negatively and where the industry is today as a result of the evolutionary process over the decades.

Salons, once a haven for women, have become Independent Stylists leasing space from the landlord / salon owner. Professional only products have become commodity products purchased on price and found everywhere, especially outside the salon.

The large distributors are now owned by the corporate giants, leaving a landscape with small distributors fighting the system and losing the battle to a marketplace never seen before in our industry. The 60’s were all about wet sets, women visiting their stylist at their favorite salon every week to redo their do. During this decade, the old guard manufacturers were Revlon, Lamaur, Helen Curtis, Rilling, Clairol, Roux, and others that generated their income primarily though salons. Early during this decade, Paula Kent purchased from Jheri Redding 3 simple formulas and started a company called Redken Labs. At the same time an English stylist, Vidal Sasson, had started a movement that would literally turn heads upside down as his message was “Let the haircut be the blueprint for the style.”, which opened the door for salons to expand their business as they were working on the same 50 clients each week. In a month’s time, they still only worked with the same 50 clients. When hair cutting became the trend, stylists focused on hair cutting were now seeing a different 50 clients each week, now totaling 200 a month, opening the door to additional revenue.

The 70’s saw the emergence of more manufacturers following the Redken model, seeing the entry of Sebastian in 1976 and Nexus in 1979. The focus of these new manufacturers was to help the salon build a whole new business called retail, eventually opening the flood gates to greater income for all. In the 70’s many Redken concept salons were competing with their service business to increase retail sales to 25% of their gross, which in turn opened up profitability to levels never seen before. Redken Labs grew exponentially based on their Beauty through Science philosophy and the newer entries such as Sebastian and Nexus were setting their own standards to compete in the new direction of the industry. Chemical services in salons, in particular perms, drove huge numbers at all levels and manufacturers were starting to phase in new products to support the shift in clients’ needs for their maintenance free hair. Education was also on the rise, as salons wanted to know as much as possible about the products supporting their services and the new retail income stream that was on the rise.

The 80’s was a decade with consistent growth and power for the new manufacturers. Paul Mitchell and Matrix Essentials came into the market in 1981 and we now had five new, aspiring and growing companies driving the growth of salons through their direct leadership and were becoming so strong that there was an additional shift from the leadership of the aforementioned manufacturers found in the 60’s to the top five leaders that drove the 80’s with their philosophy, products, and education. During this decade, salon retail went through the roof, as salon clients were an easy target for professional products that were exclusive to the professional salon. Big hair was the rage which opened the door to newer products that supported this trend. During this period, Beauty Supplies were allowed to represent and carry professional products, as long as they had a shampoo bowl and offered services as part of their in store layout. Unfortunately, this was one of the first areas where the manufacturer lost control and opened the door to price cutting, non adherence to policies, and professional products starting to show up in less than professional outlets.This decade also saw the rise of the Independents, eroding the old system of commission salons where the owner hired stylists as employees and grew their business as a team oriented effort. Now the majority of salons nationwide is nothing more than lease spaces for anyone willing to pay their space fees. Products are harder to position in salons because every stylist can make their own decision as to what they use and sell and education has gone by the wayside as a salon owner cannot mandate that his lessors have to attend any educational events.

The 90’s were a time when we acknowledged that we were an aging population and that the Baby Boomers were driving the bus into the next decade. We now see the entry of the corporate giants, Loreal, P&G, Alberto Culver, Unilever, etc., start to purchase not only large distributorships, but also the manufacturers at the top of their game such as Redken and Matrix. The only one of the large five giants in the industry, Paul Mitchell, is the only one that has not been sold. The others, Redken, Matrix, Sebastian, and Nexus are now corporately owned and driven, and while they espouse “professional only”, sell their product range through any source that will make them money. That is why professional only product has become “commodity” product, which is defined by price and ubiquitous placement. With the purchase of the large distributorships that drove the growth for the large manufacturers, in particular Redken and Matrix, the market place was left with middle to small sized distributorships that have not been able to compete with the mass size and scope of the corporate giants.

The 10’s have brought us full circle to where we started this journey in the 60’s. The giant manufacturers then were forced into going retail as the new giants had created an atmosphere in salons that kept their business growing. Unfortunately, we are seeing the same thing happen again with the ownership of family owned and driven businesses being bought out by the corporate giants.

Here is why we are seeing and feeling the results of the death of the Professional Beauty Industry.

Diversion: This key area saw salon products move into retail channels through unscrupulous and unethical people. We had a captive audience for professional products in the 70’s and 80’s, but once the salon client understood that they could find professional products at outlets outside their professional salon, it opened the flood gates and is the original reason we now see these products literally everywhere. The big losers in this ongoing game are the salons and their stylists, who have never recovered. Why buy professional product at the salon when they can buy it at Costco, Target, Drug stores, grocery stores, and on into infinity. Interestingly enough, Beauty Supplies today complain and gripe about their losses to mass retail, as salons once did about them. How the circle turns.

Ownership: Once the top tier of manufacturing companies moved from family ownership to corporate ownership, driven specifically by “bottom” line profitability and stock holders looking for a return, we see a major shift. The reason we don’t see any large number of direct manufacturer educators for these companies, is they were the first things to be discarded for cost savings. Bigger is not necessarily better.

Independents: This one shift transformed our industry, taking away leadership at salon level and creating a nightmare for manufacturers and distributors alike, as they now have to speak to each stylist separately in salons that once had one or two key people that made financial decisions for the team. Typically stylists today only come into their space when they have an appointment and could care less about education and the industry as a whole.

Distribution: Today it is hard to find large distributorships that once dominated the landscape with their sales force, educators, education and support. They have been purchased by the giant corporations for their stores, which is part of the game plan the giant corporations continue to follow. They want stylists to come in daily if needed, to purchase what they will be using tomorrow or even this week. While they maintain a weak sales force, the long term plan is to get all stylists to enter their stores to purchase their beauty needs. The current distributor base now works with smaller lines that many times do not have the capital to properly market and drive their business.

Trends: Having lived through six decades of this industry and observing the many trends such as the Farrah Fawcett cut and style, the Dorothy Hamill Wedge, Big Hair, Jennifer Anniston, and now Rich Girl Hair. Unfortunately, we have gotten away from keeping the client tied to the salon for service, as hair has become less of an accessory and almost anti-salon. With the exception of the specialty services such as color, straightening, relaxing, and formal events, look around at women’s hair. It is in poor condition, over processed, dry and unmanageable, not shiny, and seemingly not as important as we once saw in previous decades.

Since I took a hard look at why we have lost the industry we all once knew, I would be less than responsible if I did not offer long term solutions to the mess we are in. Here are a few of my suggestions.

Contemporary manufacturers have to control their product movement. If they are working within the professional industry, they have to accept the responsibility for the way their products are positioned, taught, and sold. I suggest legal contracts between the manufacturer and their distributors, as well as the distributor and their salons. Any deviancy brings the loss of the line and legal ramifications. This includes Internet sales, which are typically sold at a discount and offer little to no control. A new interactive group representing these distributors has to be enacted, ensuring that the goals of “professional only”, be the supporting factor driving their growth.

Legislation has to be started state by state to establish salons as a commission based business and Independents have to be relabeled as employees so that control can be brought back into the industry and its long term opportunities.

Distribution networks have to continue developing for the professional only market with a full understanding of the role they share within the vertical integration of their manufacturers and vendors.

In closing, I come from an era in this business where professionalism was everything and was exhibited by all players with a stake in the game. It was a glorious time, with success and prosperity for anyone willing to work hard and devoting their efforts to contributing to the overall concept. It was a time of passion, loyalty, and generally a lot of fun. What happened? Today we are in an apathetic state, very few are making good money, and opportunities have seemingly gone. Being the eternal optimist, I continue to think that we can get it back, but it is going to take all of us moving in the same direction and getting involved at all levels to right the great ship and get it back on its proper course.


Selecting the Right Contract Research Organisation in Clinical Trials

download (13)Clinical research is extremely valuable and an essential part of investigating new treatments and bringing them to the market. However, to do this effectively it is important to have the right professionals on board to run these trials around the world.

This is because not only is the relationship the pharmaceutical company has with the Contract Research Organization important, but also the ability, management skills, timing and budgeting of this organisation are critical too.

Although some pharmaceutical companies can afford to only outsource some of the necessary processes of a trial, others will entirely outsource to a Contract Research Organization (Contract Research Organization) for their clinical research. In either case, here are some of the most important aspects of doing this.

Firstly, the geographical reach of the Contract Research Organization is very important, as this determines the selection of participants available to take part in the research and also the disease profiles able to be studied. Many developing countries in the world offer ideal patient profiles, as there can be a mix of different diseases, from infectious diseases to ‘modern day’ diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

Therefore, finding a Contract Research Organization that has an appropriate reach in a particular region of the world is important. This matters not only for certain disease profiles, but also for patient enrolment and retention. In many cases it can be very difficult to enrol and keep patients, but a Contract Research Organization with a strong influence in a geographical location can make a huge difference.

An example of this would in Latin America, where clinical trials and research are only just starting to develop in a significant way. With the right understanding and contacts within countries in this region of the world, the right Contract Research Organization can boost participation and retention in clinical research trials for the pharmaceutical company that it represents.

Quality is another very important aspect of clinical research in ensuring that all trials are carried out in accordance and adherence to relevant legislation and regulation. This can seriously affect the validity of any results obtained, yet not all research in different regions the world may be up to scratch.

Furthermore, the pharmaceutical company that is looking to carry out the research will be based in a country where specific standards are required. From North America and Europe right through to Far East Asia, there are different criteria and standards to meet, and specific regulation to follow.

The right Contract Research Organization in clinical research will need to make sure that it has knowledge of all the relevant protocol and regulation to abide by when carrying out trials for a pharmaceutical company. If not, this could lead to invalid and low quality results and therefore an immense waste of investment.

Looking at the experience of a particular Contract Research Organization in carrying out successful research in their region of the world will be an indicator of whether regulation and protocol can be abided by, and will also be an indicator of successful patient recruitment and retention rates. This information can therefore be very valuable to pharmaceutical companies when making their choice.

In addition to this, a strong indicator of future success is the Contract Research Organization’s ability to communicate clearly and effectively every step along the way with the pharmaceutical company that is looking for the research to be carried out on their behalf. Therefore, any contracted should make sure that excellent and efficient communication is present from the beginning for best results.


About That Ideal Client of Yours

download (12)I know… you hear ALL the freaking time about how you need to know your ideal client, be specific, blah blah blah.

Well, I hate to tell ya, but it’s really true. You MUST be able to specifically describe your ideal client.

Here’s the #1 reason why that’s hard: you want to be of service. You have gifts to share. Your genius helps light up the world. From that place, you want to help the world! And so you say, “I can help everyone! Everyone needs my services!”

While that may be true to some degree, it’s difficult to market to a generic “everyone.” Your most effective marketing is the one that connects and resonates with the end-user, so much so that she says, “That’s me!!! Wow, you really get me!” You can’t do that if you’re genericizing your marketing in order to not possibly leave anyone out.

Smart Business Tip: Give your ideal client a name. Visualize what she looks like, what she thinks about, what she’s afraid of… then write directly to her. Let’s call her Betty for now.

Here’s what you need to know about Betty:

  • Demographics – We’re talking census-type information: age, gender, education, profession, income, family size, marital status, color of eyes. Okay, just kidding on the eye color, but the more detailed and specific you are, the better. Start to see who Betty is.
  • Psychographics – This is what happens on the inside as opposed to what you see on the outside in the demographics area. What are your ideal client’s values, opinions, attitudes, interests, lifestyle, personality? What is Betty like?
  • Challenges and Problems – This is where you start to zero in on how you can help your ideal client. What keeps her up at night? What are her biggest, most immediate pains? What words does she use to describe her issues? Once you know all this, you can speak directly to Betty through your marketing about how you can be of service to her.
  • Location – Where does she hang out? This is some of the most important research you can do, and a piece many entrepreneurs and small business owners leave out. If Betty, your ideal client, is an HR manager working full-time and making $100,000, are you going to find her at a Starbucks during the day? Is she networking? Probably not, if she’s employed full time with a company. So, you have to figure out where to find her.

Once you’ve detailed all this, you now have a pretty descriptive sketch of Betty.

How do you use your sketch of Betty?

First, any time you write any material, from a sales page to a Facebook status update, read through your Betty sketch. Tap into your inner Betty-ness and draft your marketing material from that place. Using her words and really seeing her is going to make your marketing that much more effective. Secondly, once you find out where she hangs out, go there! Whether those are conferences, networking groups, associations, or other places, you need to be where Betty is. Finally, remember to review your sketch of Betty and tweak as you find out more information or your services evolve and perhaps become more niched.


European Business Etiquette

download (11)For those who will be travelling for business to Europe, here are some tips that would help you in various European countries. It is common to hear “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, but just how do the Romans do things? And while we are at it, let us also add in the Austrians, the Spanish, and the British too. Do not forget the Dutch and the Greeks and the Irish as well.

General International Tips

Simplify your conversations and writings with words that are not overly technical or lengthy. For people who translate, or people who translate in their head, you will need to speak slowly and clearly, preferably without that extra added emphasis on your accent. Before you take your trip, learn a bit about that country’s business and social culture and customs. Write things down for easier understanding, at times. Many countries do things slower and at a much more relaxed pace than we do in the States. You will have to learn to be patient for just about everything. Finally, silence is often the best thing you can give someone.

General European Tips

Do: gift gifts, such as candy or flowers; give in odd numbers; shake hands firmly; be punctual; and toast your host.

Do not: give chrysanthemums or red roses; give anything in a set of 13; or take wine to a French household, unless you know it is a very excellent vintage.

Austria and Germany – Hands do not go in your lap or pockets

Scandinavia – Do not use first names or touch casually

Netherlands – No social touching

Greece – Admiring an object might cause it to be given to you. Greeks smile when happy and when angry. A raised eyebrow and unturned chin signifies “no.”

Spain – Interrupting is accepted. First name is used in addressing as Mrs. Judith Espanza is known as Mrs. Judith. Main meal is served just before tea time, while supper is served at 10pm.

United Kingdom – England is the most formal, and they have always been known as a very formal country. Titles are very important and well-used. Appointments and reservations are given well in advance. Do not feel obligated to ask for seconds or to say “You’re welcome.”

Ireland – Punctuality is not stressed. Neither is gift-giving. For that matter, neither is refusing a drink!

Italy – Punctuality isn’t so important here either. Do not talk business during any social occasion. There is, however, a fair amount of social touching here.


Government Contracting “Minority” Programs Taking a Pendulum Swing in the Wrong Direction?

download (10)It has been a few years now since I decided to take my company into the world of government contracting, and in those years I’ve gained some pretty good experience on how to market to and navigate the government contracting space. I’ve also noticed something troubling about how contracts and would-be awards are setup and they come in the form of “minority businesses set-asides”, particularly the 8(a) program.

Before going further it is important to note that my dialogue is premised on my field of expertise and the opportunities that exist within it: logistics. Now depending on which side of the fence you are on (8a or not) your view on this subject may differ but this opinion is coming from the non 8(a) perspective.

We are a logistics and supply chain management company. We do a very good job for our customers, maintain higher than industry standards and efficiency through our investments in technology etc. so on and so forth… for argument’s sake, let’s just say we are a top-notch company and small business. It doesn’t matter. It is seemingly less and less relevant today how good we are or how well we execute – the fact that we are simply a “small business” is less important than I’d like to admit or accept.

Government excludes us from a lot of bids we are extremely qualified for and few large companies care about partnering with a “regular” small business. However, if I make a claim that we are part of an “8(a) joint-venture” (which we are) the audience’s ears perk up and instantly my company’s value goes way up. While this brings a smile to their face as they now see a competitive advantage in us, I’m deflated me every single time and constantly brings up the question “when did being a small business go out of style?” You see, the government has programs that exclude all companies (small or otherwise) from participating in various bids and RFP’s if you are not one of these SBA certified 8(a) companies.

What is an 8(a) company? From a very high-level it is a company owned by a minority class as designated by the government along with some other requirements, but the primary one being your ethnicity (that’s my take). Technically I am a minority, I’m just not recognized as the right “type” of minority to qualify for this lucrative, decreased competition, environment. While we are indeed part of an 8(a) joint venture, what that really means to us is “hey partner company, our company will identify opportunities, qualify them, establish contacts, bring our expertise to the table, and manage the RFP process in exchange for use of your 8(a) status AND you control 51% of the total contract” because we need you 151% more than you need us apparently.

I get that minorities need help in the business world (I guess) but I have serious trouble actually believing that as a minority myself. I see many folks in the 8(a) program that are very successful and could easily be classified more “American” than minority aside from skin color and identifiable physical traits; but in a world where government is seeking “sealed bids” and “best value” (actual standard buzzwords constantly used in gov RFP’s) are you genuinely achieving best value and efficiency by excluding qualified companies like mine (and many others I’m sure) in an effort to meet a quota? That may have helped at one point but times change and eventually the pendulum will swing past its midpoint or equilibrium to the other end of the spectrum unless something slows its momentum.

If you haven’t guessed by now, yes this is a direct challenge to the 8(a) program and other types like it. What happened to earning an award based on one’s merits and ideas? Or are the architects and practitioners of this system OK handing out awards in a closed system that likely may not be helping achieve a best value at all, while in fact alienating and hurting small businesses?