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Close-up: Vanguard Global Solutions

Vanguard aims to improve homeland security, emergency preparedness

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Michael Sabellico

Encinitas-based Vanguard Global Solutions is that rare defense industry hybrid that offers both services and products, with an emphasis on homeland security and emergency preparedness. Its services include marketing, training, management of projects, programs and administrative tasks, risk analysis, Web design and, perhaps most rewarding for Vanguard's President and Chief Executive Michael Sabellico, consulting work.

"I do a lot of consulting to small business," said Sabellico, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard who launched Vanguard with his wife, Kathryn Sabellico, in February 2010. "I help them get their certifications, which is a significant process, and form business plans."

Vanguard itself is certified as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business. The certification process is heavy on time and paperwork, Sabellico said, and often requires multiple revisions. The results are well worth the work, as a certification means a "significant competitive advantage" when vying for government contracts, according to Sabellico.

Meanwhile, Vanguard also offers a range of products, as an authorized distributor for Audubon Machinery Corp. out of North Tonawanda, N.Y. Audubon's various divisions manufacture oxygen-generating systems used in industrial and medical applications, rack-washing equipment used in life science research, and renewable energy products including solar panels and wind turbines. Audubon is also a Veteran-Owned Small Business, whose president Joe McMahon was a U.S. Coast Guard Academy classmate of Sabellico's.

Sabellico said Vanguard Global Solutions is sometimes confused with the Vanguard investment management firm; there is no affiliation, he said.

"What I'm trying to do is help local and state and federal governments be prepared," Sabellico said of his company's focus on homeland security and emergency preparedness. "What's going to happen if we have another 9/11, or another Hurricane Katrina? We're still kind of lagging behind on being prepared for that sort of thing."

Sabellico is handling publicity for the 23rd annual Navy Gold Coast Small Business Opportunity Conference to be held Aug. 22-24 at the San Diego Convention Center. The theme of this year's Gold Coast conference is "Small Business: Innovation, Agility, and Commitment: The Warfighter's Advantage."

"We wanted this to have a small business flavor," Sabellico said. "The whole idea is to level the playing field, to in some way let the small businesses know that there are contracts to be had."

The conference is geared toward businesses interested in working with government agencies such as the Department of Defense. SPAWAR and the National Defense Industrial Association have brought together an array of speakers and more than 250 industry and government exhibitors.

Sabellico said the goal of the Gold Coast conference is to facilitate relationships at a time when government contracts are often awarded with greater consideration for price.

"Right now, any business environment is very competitive," Sabellico said.

McEntee is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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