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Small business finds success providing defense, homeland security services

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For many business leaders, 2009 is a year better seen through the rearview mirror. Important lessons were learned, and, now, most look to make 2010 a much better year. However, TechFlow Inc., a San Diego-based government contractor, experienced its most successful, most explosive year on record, bucking both local and national trends in an otherwise troubling year for small business.

Since 1995, TechFlow has provided IT services to the government in business and process analysis, program management, software development, systems O&M and technology support services. From its Sorrento Mesa headquarters, the company now supports both government and commercial customers across the nation.

What's the recipe? Surround a magnetic, successful CEO with a bright management team, mix with a proven business model and technologies and services that are mission critical to the government customer, and add a business philosophy that does not tolerate stagnant growth.

"One plus one cannot equal two for me. It has to equal five," said TechFlow's Chief Executive Officer Larry Trammell. "I surround myself with entrepreneurs who understand the power of the individual and the power of small groups to set and reach goals designed to build a strong and healthy business."

The undercurrent of Trammell's words might echo familiar to many of those large and small businesses in the government contracting industry. These tenants were espoused often by his mentor and former leader, Dr. Robert Beyster, founder of Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC). Beyster formalized these business theories into a book called "The SAIC Solution -- How We Built an $8 Billion Employee-owned Technology Company."

Before coming aboard as TechFlow's president and CEO, the Texas-born Trammell headed SAIC's Technology Services Co. Starting as the division's first employee in 1987, by 2006 it was 22,000 strong, responsible for generating more than $4 billion in annual revenue.

Trammell is putting the methods he perfected at SAIC to work at TechFlow, and the results speak volumes.

The company has more than doubled in size over the past year, and it continues to add contracts as well as staff to support their government customers. Much of the growth was organic from its GSA-centric customers, but also came from adding several new business areas including meteorology and oceanography; command and control (C2/C4); logistics; financial and administrative support services; and professional development and training.

TechFlow hosted an open house in November, highlighting its new University of Homeland Security -- a training business focused on first preventer/responder professionals (police/fire/EMS/public works/military). Further, the company's acquisition of Syncrotech, a long-time San Diego-based small business, was just completed last month, allowing TechFlow to broaden its support within the Navy at SPAWAR.

"I have a strong affinity for supporting the mission of SPAWAR and look forward to broadening our capability and service offerings with several codes supported by our Syncrotech Division," Trammell said.

The University of Homeland Security is positioned to develop America's most comprehensive model for a First Preventer - First Responder Training Center serving both unit and joint force needs for law enforcement, fire and rescue, public works, National Guard and special military units, combining classroom-based education and exercise oriented, reality-based scenario hard-site training.

"The most important component to an acquisition's success is the merging of cultures," Trammell said. "We have to talk to management and employees to ensure that our core values are equal and our goals aligned. This is also critical to optimizing our resources."

It's this entrepreneurial culture, in Trammell's mind, that attracts talented employees to the company. These like-minded, hard-working individuals have an unquestioned belief in their abilities and a need to exceed customer expectations.

"Some companies talk about pleasing the customer, but our motto is to 'delight' the customer," Trammell said. "We are in partnership with our customers to help them accomplish their mission and solve important problems."

After all, Trammell said, the company focuses on services and solutions that protect the country, our citizens and our children. Thus, a passion for delivering such service comes across in dealings with customers, teaming partners and employees.

As an example of its capabilities, TechFlow has been awarded a SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific (SSC-PAC) contract for command and control (C2) technologies, capabilities and C2-related capabilities in the areas of research, systems engineering, architecture, design, development, integration, test, experimentation and implementation. TechFlow will support C2 Net-Centric Operations, information management and decision support operations dealing with Joint, Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force efforts and their interfacing with civil and non-government components and capabilities supporting SSC-PAC Code 536.

Striding into 2010 with their best year behind them, Trammell and the management staff of TechFlow are excited about the future. They continue to capitalize on new opportunities, other acquisitions are on the horizon and they continue to expand the number of entrepreneurs working for the organization.

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