- Tell us a little about your company and its mission.
Judith: We provide a complete range of ocean and marine engineering services for the analysis, engineering, development, fabrication and installation of undersea systems. Our employees are experts in the various disciplines needed to take an ocean engineering project from concept through to development, installation, and service.
My husband and I founded Sound & Sea Technology in 1999 after our employers moved, or went out of business. And, currently, we employ 38 employees on both west and east coast who work all over the world. We have delivered on more than 400 federal contracts or orders.
Chelsea: Our mission has been the same since the beginning: to provide excellence of service in engineering through a mix of small business integrity and streamlined engineering services.
- Have you always planned on doing business with federal government?
Judith: My husband and I had been working with federal contracts before we founded Sound & Sea Technology, it must be around 35-40 years now. So, it was a natural to navigate our own business towards it as well.
Chelsea: Yes, it’s also one of my first memories about my parent’s business beginnings–them working on the first proposal on the kitchen table at our house. That is where it all started.
- How have you proceeded? Has the process changed since your beginnings?
Judith: We already had business contacts from our previous work so it was easier in that sense.
Chelsea: Back when my parents started there was no sense of the Internet; everything was on paper and about making phone calls. So the biggest change was that we had to move our presence online, create CCR (now SAM) and social media profiles, which proved invaluable. Now we can reach out to federal buyers directly, for example through LinkedIn, which makes everything easier. It is still hit and miss with the responsiveness but it’s worth the effort. If you’re not going to reach out you will not get what you want.
Judith: It is easier but we still have to make sure to update everything to keep current. After the ChallengeHER Seattle event we will go back and check our SAM profile to make sure it’s all up to date.
- How do you think can ChallengeHER program help women-business owners in the process?
Chelsea: All of the resources presented here were crucial for our Company. Especially our PTAC assistance–it was very instrumental for our first proposal. Events like ChallengeHER are critical for spreading the message to WOSB about available resources, set-asides, and how important it is to find your allies, your teaming partners, and utilizing the rule of two to get into the game. We need to keep pushing for WOSB set-asides because there are still not enough of us out there.
Judith: Also, I would like to see the Certification topic be resolved to make it easier for WOSB to navigate the federal procurement marketplace.
Chelsea: Yes, we need to push for less financial burden for women-owned businesses to get certified once the self-certification is eliminated.
- Could you share the key takeaways you took from the event?
Judith: Check your Dynamic Small Business Search profile to make sure it’s up to date, as speakers at the Seattle ChallengeHER event reminded us several times. We also made a few valuable contacts and received suggestions on our Capability Statement, which we haven’t thought of but definitely make business sense.
Chelsea: I would stress networking. I encourage other WOSBs to always search feedback, show your face, and make connections with federal buyers. Even when you are 17 years in the game, the networking and education must continue.
- What would you recommend other WOSBs doing business with federal government?
Chelsea: Be a proud woman-owned business and don’t let anyone discriminate against you.
Judith: Honestly speaking, so far we get credit for being a small business but not so much a woman-owned business. But, we are pushing for it. We do a lot of teaming, focusing on strategic primes, being on couple of teams for big companies, and that’s what we can recommend also as a starting point for other WOSB.