5 Tips for Success Find a mentor. I had a great mentor in my company, and I reached for opportunity when it was in front of me. Always move forward. The SBA has educational resources to improve your business know-how. To learn more about government contracting and SBA certification programs, call your local SBA district office or procurement center representative. Compete smart. See if your company can use the SBA Subcontracting Network database, https://eweb1.sba.gov/ subnet/client/dsp_Landing.cfm . SubNet connects businesses with subcontractors & small businesses with contract opportunities.
J ennifer Rahn was first to the top in a sector dominated by men, Rahn’s career sounds a lot like the classic American success story. She got there with the help of a mentor and business growth earned as a federal government subcontractor. For 16 years, Rahn worked side-by- side with then-owner David Schlosser, who became her mentor. Rahn says she learned “everything it takes to run a machine shop. I naturally just picked it up and wanted it.” hired as an office assistant at Phoenix, Arizona-based Admiral Engineering and Manufacturing Co. Rising The learning curve was steep— Admiral specializes in complex machined parts for industries including aerospace and communications—and Schlosser expected as much as he gave. “When I did something wrong, he told me, and I didn’t do that again”, Rahn
Know your industry. I see everything; I have my hands in everything. I don’t want to expand to where I can’t do that anymore.
said, laughing. One of their largest clients, aero- space and defense company L3 Technologies, nominated Admiral for the SBA Subcontractor of the Year award. As a subcontractor for L3 Technologies, Rahn said she gets great satisfaction from knowing soldiers are able to communicate with their leaders because of parts her company has made. When Schlosser decided to retire, he asked Rahn to purchase Admiral. “He did not want to sell to a corpo- ration that would bring in their own people or end up foreclosing”, Rahn says. “Then all your hard work is gone. I agreed because it was everything I had spent my life working on, too.” In September 2017, she took over as owner and president. Ownership tran- sition poses a unique set of challenges. Rahn wanted to maintain relationships with her existing clients, which include
Build a team. Everybody feels like this is our work family. My employees are as big a part of my company as I am, so I make sure they know that. major government contractors. She’s grateful prime contractors have incen- tive to subcontract with small business, and that helps businesses like Admiral. Rahn has plans to grow, but not in the typical ways. She’s investing in replacing equipment, enhancing effi- ciency and productivity while leading Admiral into new arenas like 3D print- ing. Because of the stability provided by being a government subcontractor, she’s able to do all of this.
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