“I feel like I am finally on an even playing field for the first time in my life. The 8(a) program, coupled with the one-on-one support from the local SBA and Alabama SDBC offices have had a direct impact on my level of success over the past year.”

Sydney Cody says she has lived and operated in what many would call a “man’s world” since she chose to major in engineering at Tulane University. In 2001, Sydney was commissioned as a Naval Officer in the Civil Engineers Corps (CEC), which was 90-percent comprised of men. For nearly six years she served in the corps, working in the contracting office and serving as an officer in charge of Construction in the Navy.

After being honorably discharged she was hired as the engineering manager for two Fortune 500 firms and worked in that capacity for the next decade. Looking for an opportunity that allowed more control over her personal life and unlimited potential for growth, Sydney made the decision to go back to her roots in the federal contracting arena and work for herself. She purchased 51-percent ownership of Vanguard Pacific, LLC, from her sister in April of 2016. At that time, she moved the business from Hawaii to Alabama. Soon after the move, the company became a client of the Alabama Small Business Development Center Network at the University of South Alabama.

Initially, Sydney had a single employee, her mother, Sharon. Between the two of them, they attended several ASBDC-sponsored workshops on a variety of topics. They also met with procurement assistance advisor Gerald Dunlop for help with expanding their market. Gerald created a profile for the business in the ASBDCs free bid-match service, which searches for government contracting opportunities at several websites where opportunities are listed. He also assisted them with getting on the Emergency Response Contracting in Alabama vendor list. The ERCA is a list of businesses prepared to respond in the aftermath of a federally declared disaster.

For the first six months, Sydney and Sharon feverishly worked from Sydney’s home office in Foley, Alabama, on everything from the SBAs 8(a) Business Development Program application and Economically Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) certification, to city and state business licenses, to getting a BCU4 General Contractor’s License, to receiving her Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) certification. In between applying for licenses and programs, Sydney attended numerous networking events to maximize her exposure and get in front of key folks to explain her abilities, work ethic and integrity. Two of those events were procurement matchmakers held by SBDCs in Mobile and Huntsville. Matchmakers are organized as reverse trade fairs where representatives from government agencies and prime contractors meet one-on-one with small-business owners.

Being a former CEC Officer and having over 15 years of experience in construction and program management, Sydney focused on federal contract opportunities of similar nature. She quickly renewed her membership in SAME and worked to understand the needs of the local U.S. Army Corps of Engineers district. She worked with her contacts at the SBDC to understand who the local federal customers were and how to reach them.

Vanguard Pacific – Startup strategy to Contracting success February 7, 2018