Veterans helping veterans
Vet-owned tech firm contracts for U.S. Veterans Affairs
September 2019 was a big month for B3 Group Inc.
The Herndon-based information technology services company was among the contract winners for a $686 million task order from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Digital Transformation Center.
The same month, it was selected for a 15-year, $59.9 million contract to provide the VA with a software-as-a-service enterprise telecommunications expense management integrated platform/solution, or eTEMS, which is changing the way the department uses its internal communication platforms.
“Whatever the veterans need, they’re going to get it faster because we’re putting it through this platform and we’re helping them put it on the platform,” says Stephanie Chase, B3 Group’s strategic communications and marketing director.
For the contract, B3 Group will assist the VA offices of Information and Technology and Information Technology Operations and Services with project management, implementation, testing, support and training of the eTEMS platform.
But how did B3 Group get there?
A Virginia Values Veterans-certified organization, B3 Group has received training and assistance from the state government in how to attract, hire and retain veterans as employees.
B3 Group Founder and Managing Principal Brad Palmer wasn’t a veteran, but knew he wanted to work with the VA. Three years after the company’s 2008 founding, Palmer approached Dwight Hunt, who had recently completed a 20-year career in the Army, to become B3 Group’s majority owner. That made the company a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs really cherishes and prioritizes veteran-owned businesses,” says Hunt, who is now B3 Group’s president and CEO. He cites the company’s status as a veteran-owned business as a major factor in B3’s success in landing larger federal contracts.
While serving in the Army, Hunt spent some of his time in combat. But from 2002 to 2011, he served as an acquisition officer, working for the Army’s research and development commands.
Hunt’s background, combined with Palmer’s knowledge and passion for the VA, informs who they hire and how they operate — and ultimately leads to the company’s rapid growth.
Approximately 20% of B3 Group’s 185 employees are veterans, which appeals to its main client, the VA.
“We’re partnered with a government agency that truly values its veterans’ businesses,” Hunt says. “They get good service from us. We grow — they’re part of our growth. We give back to veterans.”
He calls it an ecosystem of supporting veterans across the process. “We have a unique contract vehicle with a unique customer that helps our growth as well,” Hunt says.
Internal growth also is important for B3 Group. Employees are eligible for education stipends every year to pursue certifications in project management, human resources, technology — or wherever their interests may lie. This encourages employees to “build their brand,” as Hunt puts it, and grow their skills, which gives them an edge at the company.
Management provides each employee with a roadmap illustrating their growth trajectory at the company, which also prepares B3 Group to build its internal infrastructure, says Chase, who’s worked for comparable government contractors. This prepares the company to be staffed and ready for a flood of contracts rather than causing strain.
Company leaders have thought it through and hired the right people to make sure it happens, Chase says: “Their customers are aware that they have the people in place and they’ve got the knowledge, they’ve got the skill sets, they’ve got the training. There’s a very full circle range here that I haven’t seen in a lot of government contractors.”
In addition to its Fantastic 50 win, B3 Group was a winner of Virginia Business’ Best Places to Work award in 2019 and 2020 and has won veteran hiring awards including the Inc. Vet50 List, Excellence in Partnership Award, Virginia Values Veterans Award and the HIRE Vets Medallion Program.
“B3 Group is truly becoming a digital transformation services firm with the chops and the skills and the past performance,” Hunt says. “All those pieces create a story and a brand.”
Read more about this year’s Fantastic 50 winners:
- 2020 Virginia’s Fantastic 50 chart
- Charting growth — Fairfax County is home to state’s fastest-growing companies
- GCubed Inc. — Leveraging the past
- Alpha Omega Integration LLC — A catalyst for change