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Sandia invites businesses to the Labs to talk contracting

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DOING BUSINESS — Sandia small-business advocate Eric Lochausen talks to a potential supplier at a recent open house. “People want to meet with us, and it can be difficult to schedule time,” he says. “We thought it would be better to set up specific hours where we can devote our attention to small, diverse suppliers.”   (Photo by Lonnie Anderson)

Companies that want to supply products and services to Sandia have a new way to learn the ropes. Sandia recently began offering open houses where small and diverse suppliers can talk to staff and contracting experts about doing business with the Labs.

“It’s been great to open our doors to the community, to give people the opportunity of face-to-face engagement,” says Del Salazar, manager of Sandia’s Small Business Program and Risk Management and Supplier Diversity Dept. 10222. “Being able to speak to someone instead of just sending off an email is important. We’ve had an exceptionally positive response.”

Eric Lochausen (10222) says the open houses are a response to the many phone calls and emails he and Sandia’s other supplier diversity advocates receive every day. “People want to meet with us, and it can be difficult to schedule time,” he says. “We thought it would be better to set up specific hours where we can devote our attention to small, diverse suppliers.”

The open houses are offered three times a month, the first Tuesday from 9-11 a.m., second Wednesday from 1-3 p.m., and third Thursday from 2-4 p.m., through March 2017. “People have options depending on their schedules,” Eric says. Times can be confirmed by email to A schedule beyond March is being determined.

Advice for those who aren’t ready

The team booked space in IPOC’s Supplier Diversity Lobby and sent invites to the Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC), government organizations that help small businesses with federal contracting; the Small Business Administration (SBA); the Veterans’ Business Outreach Center; the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership; and other business groups to share with their networks.

PTAP, PTAC, and the SBA took it a step further and agreed to attend the open houses to advise people who might not be ready to do business with Sandia. “Having them there has been critical,” Del says. “Sometimes companies come in and are not yet in a position to work with the Labs. We can say, ‘Here’s a resource that can help you get there.’ PTAP, PTAC, and the SBA can help them get SAMS [System for Award Management] registrations, D-U-N-S [Dun & Bradstreet] numbers, and help with proposals. They help them navigate the system and grow their businesses to the point that they can do government procurement.”

The first open house was Oct. 4, and more than 70 companies have attended in two months. Eric, Sandia’s small business advocate for veteran- and service-disabled-veteran-owned companies, is joined by Marie Myzkier, who advocates for 8(a)-, HUBZone-, Alaska Native- and American Indian-owned businesses; Patricia Brown, who advocates for women- and economically disadvantaged women-owned businesses; and Leo Valencia, the supplier point of contact for the group (all 10222).

This is what people have been waiting for, to sit down with someone from Sandia.

 Small business advocates work in the community and within Sandia to promote qualified suppliers from the various socioeconomic groups. At the open houses, they collect information from attendees such as their North American Industry Classification System codes, quality certifications, safety records, and clearances, and talk to them about how best to work with the Labs.

Qualified companies are added to Sandia’s Supplier Diversity database and can be introduced, at matchmaking events advertised in the Sandia Daily News, to Labs technical staff to make them aware of capable small businesses. Companies with missing qualifications are referred to PTAP, PTAC, and SBA. “When we send people to their table, they are all over it,” Eric says. “They are passionate about helping suppliers.”

A variety of procurement resources

 Companies of all sizes are welcome at the supplier open houses. “Our group targets small business but any supplier can come by,” Eric says. “We don’t turn anyone away.” Sandia buyers are included for networking and guidance.

Maria Guy of Armatus Consulting in Albuquerque, a small, woman-owned business that offers leadership development and training, says the open house she attended was valuable. “It was extremely informative and struck the right balance between formal and informal,” she says. “I sat down with people and asked questions and, as we got to know each other, they recommended follow-up contacts and resources and gave overall guidance in navigating doing business with Sandia. It’s a helpful service.”

Eric recommends that potential suppliers familiarize themselves with, under the “Working With Sandia” webpage, to understand what Sandia buys and how, and to determine if Sandia is the right market for them. He also urges companies to be aware of the following procurement resources:

“It takes a lot of preparation and time to do business with the government and its prime contractors,” Eric says. “You want to be as well prepared as possible and ready to sell your capabilities, experience, technical expertise, business acumen, and financial strength.”

If you’re ready to do government contracting, come talk to us.

Del says Sandia wants small businesses to be successful, and that meeting face-to-face starts a relationship on sound footing. “This is what people have been waiting for, to sit down with someone from Sandia,” she says. “They learn how to do business with us and we learn more about them so we can build our database of interested, capable, qualified suppliers. These are people we’ve met and know something about.”

Eric says he expects the open houses to increase the number of small businesses Sandia contracts with. “We have momentum and want to keep it,” he says. “If you’re ready to do government contracting, come talk to us.”