Small Business Initiatives Are a Big Priority
Raytheon (NYSE: RTN) is a big fish in a sea of large government contractors at APG.
What’s unique and different about Raytheon is not just the company’s front and center location at Aberdeen Proving Ground’s (APG) The Gate, although Raytheon boasts it was the first building onsite. It’s also Raytheon’s tireless efforts to craft small business partnerships that make the corporation so exceptional, and how Raytheon is reaching out to their customers in the form of lasting community partnerships.
As a leading provider of state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other sensing capabilities, as well as command, control, communications and intelligence systems that support broader missions, this $25 billion company employs 72,000 employees worldwide.
In the land of high-stakes government contracts and high-level security clearances, most of the work at Raytheon is under the radar and top-secret. It’s public knowledge that two groups are functioning at Raytheon APG: U.S. Business Development APG (USBD) and Advanced Communications and Countermeasures (ACC), a business unit under the Network Centric Systems. USBD is the business development gateway for the rest of Raytheon to APG while ACC innovates, designs and produces electronic warfare and avionics for the Department of Defense (DoD) and international customers.
The Move Closer to Customers
Since location is decidedly key to reaching customers, it’s no wonder that Raytheon forged a partnership with St. John Properties. Raytheon’s APG top executive, Glen Bassett, Retired, USMC, explains that the company searched for ways to reach out to customers … specifically, the Army and U.S. Government. Bassett took over in February 2011, coming from Dallas to direct the APG location.
“It seems with BRAC that it’s even more important to be closer to the customer,” Bassett elaborates. “It’s easier access for [Raytheon] to do business with the Army customer here at APG.”
By stepping on-board with St. John Properties as their first client, Raytheon’s deal took a little over three years to complete. The building was occupied in November 2010 with an official ribbon cutting in January. A highly effective business leader, who’s also skilled in his abilities to relate to the military heads, Bassett manages 200 employees at the new building, in support of the APG mission.
“We have the capacity to grow to 270 [employees},” Bassett says.
Bassett gives a firm explanation of one of the most understandable reasons for a site change: the lure of reducing operating costs. Moving the facility from Towson and Ft. Monmouth, N.J., to a LEED-certified building that’s low cost in operation seems like a plausible, cost-reducing strategy for the technology giant.
Meeting Customer’s Needs
Raytheon has lab facilities and offices available while people are doing business on APG. Bassett concludes that the most important need is “giving the customer easier access” followed by getting employees to “understand the customer much better.” Another important aspect to meeting customers’ needs is the ability to locate and secure new business, says Bassett.
Small Business Friendly
Raytheon prides itself in developing small businesses. With self-imposed yearly goals in place to monitor its progress, Raytheon is continuously looking for new businesses. Bassett determines, “There are lots of opportunities to do business here.” The company hopes to fill small business needs such as machining, connectors, microwave systems, passive systems, electronic systems and more. “Small biz tends to be very flexible, innovative and easy to work with,” Bassett says. “We like to think we are agile and flexible as well.”
Being flexible also means working with the Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program, which allows small businesses in urban and rural communities to gain preferential access to federal procurement prospects. Raytheon also regards working with veteran-owned, minority and women-owned businesses as highly important. “We want people working with us who share our values,” Basset acknowledges. “We have a small business advocate within our division as well.”
John Kleinfelder, Raytheon’s APG small business advocate and corporate business developer, spoke at this year’s APG Technology Showcase at Harford Community College (HCC). During the large business support panel, Kleinfelder explained the process used by Raytheon to vet businesses. He gave tips for small business to access the big business opportunities. “My advice is, [small businesses] need to come to local folks and network … get into the infrastructure of the large … businesses,” Kleinfelder mentioned.
In addition to the DoD and government clients, Bassett feels that small businesses tend to be very willing to work with Raytheon. “We wouldn’t be keeping our customer happy if we didn’t value small businesses as much as we do,” he says.
Mentoring Small Businesses
Raytheon promotes a Mentor Protégé program where small businesses receive dedicated time on contracts to develop specific capabilities. Recognized by the DoD several times for mentor capabilities, Raytheon’s APG site has 10 current Mentor Protégé partnerships that help businesses become better suppliers. Such agreements benefit both companies involved and ultimately the customer.
The company has a customer focus first, with Bassett explaining that “it all comes back to what does the customer need in terms of work, and we run supplier workshops to invite suppliers to come in.” Business is conducted on a regular basis and will benefit from one of Raytheon’s regional small business workshops. Outreach and networking is offered for supplier information conferences. Any company doing business with Raytheon has access to the supplier conferences for sharing of strategies and outlooks.
Keeping Customers Happy
This spring, Raytheon received an “outstanding” rating by the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA). It’s this type of rating that proves Raytheon’s customers remain satisfied. Bassett says Raytheon wants to be the company that “the customer wants to come back to.” He explains the environment as a measure of success as well as the supplier base of “people who want to work with [Raytheon].”
What the Company Values
When it comes to measuring core values, Raytheon wants to be viewed as a partner in the customer’s success. The company’s motto, “Customer Success is our Mission” is important to executives such as Bassett, and it’s clear that he loves this focus. “Most people are engineers. The technology and the people are the two things that define the values of Raytheon. We like to talk about integrity, trust and respect … we deliver on those values and you see that in the metrics used to measure our success,” Bassett discloses.
On the technology side, Raytheon is keen on technology assurance and delivering on their promises. Calling the benchmarks “Mission Assurance,” the company has trademarked this idea. Raytheon’s commitment doesn’t end with delivery. Completing the mission means “checks on logistics, reliability, usability and total ownership costs,” says Bassett.
Doing More With Less
Raytheon’s customers are repeatedly “asked to do a lot more with less,” according to Bassett. This means more opportunities for helping the customers determine the effective solutions for the battlefield problems that they encounter. The “less is more” approach works as Raytheon aims to bring strong capabilities to team C4SIR (Computers, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance). Providing core competencies that support high-tech Army operations, Bassett says the company will fulfill the ongoing needs of C4SIR.
How Raytheon Helps the Warfighter
The battlefield causes Raytheon to search for countermeasure systems to neutralize the capability to attack and threaten the U.S. warfighter. Raytheon pays close attention to the warfighter and the safety needs of crucial military missions. “We help the warfighter to stay alive … stay safe from the enemy and help them keep safe from each other. We help them find and avoid the enemy,” Bassett stresses.
To assist Raytheon in protecting the warfighter, the company needs experts in many fields, including electronic warfare, avionics and electrical engineers, software developers, mechanical engineers, systems engineers, and finance analyst backgrounds. This means harnessing new talent to fit with job requirements and developing current employees to meet the ongoing needs of the warfighter.
Raytheon offers cross-functional rotations within the company in the form of a leadership development program that moves employees around to several different business programs. Explaining “people are more satisfied in the career if they understand mobility,” Bassett says Raytheon offers training in hard skills about how to be a contributor as an employee.
The company also offers higher education sponsorships that include advanced and post-graduate degrees. Raytheon also has an aggressive outreach program to sponsor minorities and women to become part of the workforce.
Engineers in Classrooms
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is an important part of Raytheon’s future. Bassett sees the need to bring in highly successful people through the STEM outreach sponsorships. “Raytheon targets efforts mostly on the middle school age because that’s when we think we can engage students: show them what’s compelling about science and math and grow their skills,” he explains.
Raytheon engineers enter classrooms to engage students and sponsor competitions such as robotics and “MathMovesU.” Sessions are taught at HCC with computers set up for students to move through the website to win prizes and scholarship money. Over $1 million per year is donated on MathMovesU. Visit raytheon.com/responsibility/stem/mmu/ for more information.
Another Raytheon employee, Joe Loiodice, has been with the company for 25 years and holds the title of Ground Interrogator & Crypto Business Lead. Loiodice points out the void or gap in talent in the technical community as the reason for the STEM promotion. “It’s not all check writing,” Loiodice notes. “Obviously, the money is important, but we’re hoping to build our pool of people that are interested in being involved.”
Engineering employees are sponsoring Harford County Boys and Girls Club’s STEM program. Mentors teach classes to kids with Raytheon providing the materials needed to create a curriculum and be successful with kids in the environment. Raytheon does provide financial assistance to organizations interested in furthering the goals of STEM.
Dan Danner, software engineering manager, is a mentor and instructor for STEM at Boys & Girls Club Aberdeen. He works with various levels of robotics that target different age groups. Helping young people participate in mini-robotics and LEGO robotics sessions as well as science experiments and software programming brings a certain level of job satisfaction.
“I always enjoy helping someone learn about engineering,” Danner says. “This is an area that I’m experienced in being a software engineer.”
Fundamental engineering concepts are explored in the student exercises: problem solving, planning and trials and errors. Exercises such as rocket launching with three types of ingredients used to launch the rockets are investigated. Flexibility with his time is key to Danner’s success with the two-hour weekly commitment plus planning and preparation for the sessions.
“Working with children, you have to be willing to adapt your plan to reality. I’m learning the best ways to connect with the children. For every hour I spend, it’s about two hours to prepare,” Danner recognizes.
As new residents at the APG area, Raytheon is trying to be good neighbors through the community involvement. Building interest within the company for people to volunteer their time, Raytheon asks employees to tell students what it’s like to be an engineer. Questions arise about what courses kids can take to prepare for engineering and technology careers. Raytheon is also involved with the Army Chair’s STEM summit, a regional program that pulls the schools, the ARMY post at APG and local industry together along with other large government contractors. “We all have the same motivation: to keep the pipeline and the talent coming into our companies,” says Loiodice.
An Eye to the Future
Building a successful workforce requires Raytheon’s APG site to reach out to students in new and innovative ways. And, the company is clearly focused on satisfying the needs of the warfighter while helping small business gain access to the crucial government contracts. With an eye to the future, Raytheon scientists and engineers continue to search for solutions that meet new customer requirements now and the constantly changing global market.
For more information, visit raytheon.com. I95