The firm: Based in Ft. Worth, Texas, Burgoon Co., a supplier of medical, safety and laboratory supplies (such as beakers, flasks and chemicals), was launched in 1988 by Nita Burgoon. She won her first subcontracting award from Bethesda, Maryland, aerospace manufacturer Lockheed Martin in 1992 and today continues to supply Lockheed's quality control, industrial hygiene and materials process control production facilities.
The slice: With her Lockheed contract, Burgoon expects to bring in about $500,000 this year. Her overall sales projections for 1998 are $4 million.
The criteria: In addition to offering quality products, consistent deliveries and competitive prices, Burgoon strives to provide her customers with the little extras--such as creativity, patience and persistence.
The hook: "I think part of being a successful entrepreneur is finding a niche market and then filling that niche," says Burgoon, 47. That's exactly what she did when Lockheed was dangerously close to shutting down its quality control assembly line. Burgoon was able to provide a solution that helped Lockheed avoid an assembly line closure--and in the end, she scored a contract that hadn't previously existed.
The spin: Strong subcontracting relationships will not only expand your business with a corporation but will also lead to new opportunities with other businesses. And when they're long-lasting, you'll surely benefit. "More often [than not], smart buyers understand that the value added by a company such as mine is worth the loyalty they give us," Burgoon says.
The connection: Many large corporations have a small-business center or someone you can talk to about contracts. Burgoon urges entrepreneurs to "meet them, work with them, get to know them, and let them know you're really interested. Nothing but good will come from it."