‘We try to be awesome’

Generous benefits enable company to attract employees it needs

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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Paul Buede (left) and Guido Ellsworth started the company in 2011.
Photo by Stephen Gosling

Highest revenue growth
B.E.S. Technology Inc.

B.E.S. Technology Inc. specializes in information technology contracting, but it doesn’t want to be known just for that. The Ashburn-based company’s scope is much broader, says President Paul Buede.

“We have a three-pronged vision of being a technical company,” says Buede, who founded B.E.S. in 2011 with Guido Ellsworth. “We do contracting, consulting and product development. We have a full stock of IT services.”

From 2013 to 2016 the company’s revenue grew 2,709.2 percent, making it the fastest-growing company in the Fantastic 50 for 2018. 

Buede and Ellsworth started the company after working on federal government IT projects that require high-level security clearances. “That’s a small world,” Buede says of IT workers with these clearances. “Everybody knows one another.”

The founders’ goal was to build a company focused on employees. “We tend to grow fast because everyone wants to work for a small company with great benefits,” Buede says. “We try to be awesome.”

For example, B.E.S. pays the equivalent of 15 percent of employees’ salaries into their 401(k) accounts even if workers don’t make their own retirement contributions.   Employees also get 37 days off a year, including 25 leave days, 10 federal holidays and two personal days. “We put all the days in one bucket so they can use it whenever they need to use it,” Buede says.

The company also pays full insurance premiums for employees with either health reimbursement arrangements (HRA) or health savings accounts (HSA) and provides a $5,000-a-year training budget for each worker. “We want to help people increase their skills,” Buede says.

Offering generous benefits allows the company to attract people from a small pool of workers who already have high-level security clearances.

If an employee is interested in a new benefit and the numbers allow it, the company will add it, Buede says. For example, the company added a flexible-spending account option in response to a suggestion. “It’s really an employee market. We give people the best deal to get the best people to come be part of our team.”

In addition to its benefits, Buede credits B.E.S.’ rapid growth to its small business-focused, family-oriented culture.

Families are invited to participate in company events, such as a night out at a Washington Nationals baseball game and the annual Christmas party. “We do other events as well,” Buede says. “We realize people work all day with their co-workers. When they are going to do something after hours, they like to spend time with their families.”

To help create a pipeline of new talent, the company last year started a summer intern program for college juniors, giving them the chance to work on real-life technical projects.

“It’s a way we can evaluate them to see if we want to make them employees in the future,” Buede says. “If we do, we will get them into the security-clearance process through some of the prime companies we deal with. We are trying to find great people and train them.”

The security-clearance process can take more than a year to complete. “We tend to keep college folks as part-timers until graduation and then put them in internal projects before they get security clearance,” Buede says.

Since 2011 the company has grown from the two founders to more than 50 employees. “Most are billable employees that work on customer locations,” primarily in Northern Virginia, he says.

During its first years in business, B.E.S. struggled to get major companies to take it on as a subcontractor. It landed its first large contract in March 2014. “We added our first three employees then,” Buede says.

The company’s capabilities have grown as its staff increased. “At first we just offered infrastructure services, but as we’ve added people we’ve added services,” he says.

During the next two years, Buede would like to diversify the company’s customer base. “We want to do work that does not require a high-level security clearance as well as lower-level-clearance security jobs,” he says. “We also want to work with other agencies at the state level.”

Additionally, the company plans to create and sell two software products — a business management platform and a consumer-focused mobile app.

“People used to tell me starting and running a company was hard, and it is. The challenges and difficulties change as we go through different phases of corporate growth,” he says. “But it’s all been worth it.” 

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