Success Story…Consulting Services Inc.
Ken Novotny and David Mitchell met at a gym one day and became fast friends. They soon discovered they share more than just a desire to keep physically fit. They both shared a dream of building a successful business.
Novotny worked as a defense contractor at Tinker Air Force Base while Mitchell worked for a large contracting company as a buyer. Novotny had vast experience in computer systems. Mitchell knew the process of doing business with the federal government.
“I saw immediately that Ken had great business sense. He was very personable, which seemed unusual for a typical computer geek,” Mitchell said laughing.
In the spring of 2004 the team began building their dream by working with Mike Cure, Business Advisor at the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center at Rose State College in Midwest City. Cure helped the pair build a business plan and locate space for their new enterprise as well as understand the various certifications available to Native American-owned businesses. “Mike gave us outstanding advice and became our mentor,” said Novotny.
In 2004, Novotny formed KNWEBS Inc. dba CSI, a defense contracting business. CSI offers information technology and engineering services including information assurance, cyber security, software development, data center consolidation, network security, and system security. CSI has grown from two employees and $64,000 in revenues to almost 120 employees and more than $8 million in sales in 2008.
“We have grown beyond our expectations,” said Novotny, “In the first two years we exceeded our five-year projections.” He credits much of their success to the OKSBDC. “Without the help of the great people of the OKSBDC, owning this business might still be a dream.”
Cure helped the partners with the paperwork to qualify for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB), 8(a) and Historically Underutilized Business (HUBZone) programs. CSI has been able to prove past performance from subcontract work to becoming a viable Federal contracting company with the ability to have sole source set aside contracts.
“Although we are just beginning to get into the prime contract market, we have been providing IT and engineering services to large companies like Northrop Grumman, which awarded CSI the small business excellence award in 2007,” said Novotny. “In the services business, your company is ONLY as good as the people that represent it. Our customers will only stay with us if we take good care of them.”
In 2007, Novotny established a recruiting division within CSI to ensure the company only hires the highest qualified employees to meet the customer’s expectations. This new division has caught the eyes of many Department of Defense contracting firms which use the recruiters to fulfill their requirements. “The recruiting division has tripled in growth since being stood up just a year ago,” Novotny said.
This new service has opened the doors to many of the largest Department of Defense contracting companies CSI is looking to team with on new requirements.
“Don’t wait for the ‘right time’ to begin your business,” Novotny advises others who are thinking about going into business. “Go to your local SBA representative and understand the avenues to accomplish your business plan, and then go do it! Patience is another key piece of advice. It’s going to take long hours and a lot of work but it will pay off, just give it time.”