Shirley Young’s first visit to SCORE’s Boston office in 2003 couldn’t have come a moment too soon. The owner of Global Advanced Technology, Inc. (GATI), an information technology engineering and management services firm, Shirley had tried without success to secure contracts with the federal government and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She felt her business offered the necessary expertise, plus a stellar track record working with some of the nation’s leading telecommunications and networking companies. Unfortunately, much of that work had disappeared due to major shifts in the technology industry and Shirley urgently needed new business in order to keep GATI afloat.
“Fred Larson’s insights and ideas provided GATI with an immediate—and much-needed—boost in business.” says Shirley. “Within a year, we had six contracts with the state and had become a subcontractor on a project for the Department of Defense,” she says. “And where once our proposals would generate no response, we regularly receive positive comments about the quality of their organization and content.”
GATI’s success has also enabled Shirley to share her knowledge and experience with other minority women entrepreneurs. She is an active member of the Outreach Committee of Massachusetts Affirmative Marketing Program, which works to help other woman- and minority-owned businesses participate in the state contracting system. She has also participated in a variety of high-profile events with Massachusetts’s legislative and business leaders.
Fred shared his wealth of knowledge about public contracting with Shirley, including some critical steps that she had overlooked.
“Fred helped me prepare an application to be certified under the SBA’s 8(a) small business development program and began reviewing my proposals to make sure I could justify my prices,” Shirley says. “He’s very detail-oriented, often playing Devil’s Advocate to help make my proposals as strong as possible.”
Shirley adds that Fred has also become a trusted mentor. Their meetings usually follow an agenda that covers action items for current or pending proposals; marketing, personnel and financial matters; and personal issues. “As a single mother who is the sole owner of a company, that’s very important,” Shirley explains. “Whatever affects me personally directly affects my business.”
“We meet several times a month or even more often, depending what’s going on with GATI,” she says. “Fred is so accessible. He also passes along information that he feels will be helpful to me and my business. There’s no doubt that Fred has had a tremendous impact on GATI.”
Attending a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) workshop on federal contracting helped introduce Shirley to SCORE and volunteer mentor Fred Larson, who had spent many years with a leading defense contractor.