Etegra, Inc. – Olivette
Update: June 9, 2017 (Where are they now?)
BDP client Etegra has secured a $10 million contract from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Fort Worth, Texas, for a range of architectural and engineering services. Read more about Etegra’s federal contract in the St. Louis Business Journal.
The contract is one of many Etegra has won in recent years with the help of the Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, which helps firms of any size identify, compete for and win government contracts.
Andrew Kishna, chairman and CEO of Etegra, Inc., a minority-owned, full service architectural and engineering firm, deals in large numbers.
$15 million. $20 million. $25 million.
These are some of the larger amounts in Etegra’s pool of contracts totaling $85 million with such federal entities as the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, General Services Administration (GSA) and others for architectural services, roofing inspections, engineering, construction management and environmental consulting. Etegra can do almost anything that needs to be done to buildings or grounds.
Some of these contracts are indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts, notably a $20 million contract with the Corps for border patrol stations and highway checkpoints; detention, administration and vehicle maintenance facilities; drug seizure vaults, communication towers, forward operating bases, roads and lighting; and a $25 million GSA contract to renovate government facilities in Missouri and Iowa.
IDIQ contracts are considered plum contracts. These agreements provide for an indefinite quantity of supplies or services over a fixed period of time. Etegra has also completed dozens of projects throughout Missouri such as helping with the Missouri Supreme Court Building facade renovation and design, upgrades and renovation for several St. Louis area libraries, St. Paul’s and New Beginnings Lutheran churches, Washington University School of Medicine and Exhilarama Entertainment Centers. Overall, Kishna estimates his firm has tackled projects in about 40 states and in Puerto Rico.
That’s the signature of a big firm.
Etegra’s revenue was about $500,000 in 2013. That figure leaped to nearly $2 million in 2015 and is on pace for $5 million in 2016. Kishna says the firm will also be opening a branch office in Dallas soon, perhaps a third in southeastern coastal U.S. Yet Etegra only has 30 employees.
How did such a relatively small firm get so big?
With the help of Millie Miller-Hoover, procurement specialist with St. Louis County Extension Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC); by thinking big, being diligent and dependable; with the help of a talented and trusted partner, Paul Ramsaroop, the firm’s president and COO; and by gaining the trust of business partners.
PTAC helps firms, including those owned by minorities, veterans, women and disadvantaged individuals, secure good federal, state and local government contracts.
Kishna and Ramsaroop also fueled this impressive growth by acquiring other firms. Etegra acquired Team Four architects in 2013, making Etegra an even more complete architectural firm; and an engineering and inspection firm in 2015 specializing in public facilities. Kishna and Ramsaroop also established a marketing department to pursue private and federal contracts and assure larger firms that Etegra has the personnel and expertise to handle truly big projects.
“Large business partners see we have a marketing group, see we can put it all together,” Kishna says. Failing to set up a true corporate structure, he says, is a mistake many small businesses make that limits their potential. “This way we can handle much larger firms. It gives them (larger firms) confidence. We have found that large firms tend to rely on us and use us as a resource.”
Another key, he says, has not been stinting on the often laborious research required to get the right government contracts.
“It’s a stringent process,” he says. “As much as you can, you have to identify the contracts you’re right for, then you can have specific conversations with large partners. That’s been key for us. Most small businesses take a shotgun approach, bidding on anything and everything. We do the opposite, targeting then partnering. They (larger firms) then know they have a proven partner.”
Hoover and PTAC also helped Etegra with initial training in navigating federal contract opportunities in FebBizOps, the federal government’s massive database of contracting opportunities. PTAC further helped perfect their bid matching profile by adding just the right service descriptors, among other actions.
“You can only do so much as a small firm, so we pick and choose,” Kishna says. “From a simplistic viewpoint, we will probably not move out of the small business arena. We’ll stay small, but win large contracts.”
And that’s how a small company can get big.
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