SAME’s Communities of Interest provide opportunities for members to become involved nationally with other professionals focused on a particular technical field or demographic within the A/E/C industry. The Small Business COI serves as the premier platform where SAME’s small business members can collaborate and build teaming relationships, stay up-to-date on developments in the industry space, and promote the role and relevance of small business in the Society.

Bricks & Clicks recently chatted with Mario Burgos, President & CEO, Burgos Group, and Chair of the Small Business COI, on how the COI is fulfilling the five goals of the 2025 SAME Strategic Plan, how engagement with SAME has returned value for his own small business, and what he’s looking forward to most at the upcoming 2021 Small Business Conference in Atlanta.

Bricks & Clicks: How would you describe the goals and objectives of the Small Business COI and the value it provides to its members and businesses?

Burgos: Small business firms contribute approximately 80 percent of our nation’s job growth, and a similar percentage of SAME’s Sustaining Member firms are small businesses. We are the entrepreneurial companies driving innovation, pushing boundaries, and challenging the status quo. Often considered “renegades,” we are an invaluable asset to our nation’s economy and a critical resource in the development of multidisciplined solutions to our nation’s security infrastructure challenges. The COI’s primary goals are to support the 2025 SAME Strategic Plan and ensure that the diverse voices of our small business firms and the communities of stakeholders we represent are heard at every level of our Society as that plan is executed. Our primary objectives include:

  • Informing SAME of technical programs of interest to small business members
  • Providing opportunities to meet with key government decision-makers
  • Representing small business interests on select SAME national committees
  • Keeping members informed on small business regulations and legislation
  • Providing opportunities to highlight small business success stories and lessons learned

To facilitate meeting these goals and objectives, our COI has a steering committee of Vice-Chairs that each lead diverse teams of dedicated Society small business members.

Bricks & Clicks: 2020 was an especially challenging year for small businesses. Where do you see the industry headed as we begin to emerge from the pandemic?

Burgos: The pandemic was and continues to be a social and economic disruption unlike any we have ever seen in our lifetimes. With an event of this magnitude, there are invariably tremendous opportunities as well as threats.

On the opportunity front for our industry is the $1 trillion infrastructure bill to rebuild the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges and fund new climate resilience and broadband initiatives. Coupled with the administration’s intention to double the share of contracts going to small, disadvantaged businesses, this sets the stage for significant growth in our sector. However, as every small business owner knows, executing on the opportunity is where the risk lies. These risks include:

  • Potential impact of Delta and other variants of COVID
  • Difficulty in finding qualified trade labor in an ever-tightening labor market
  • Supply chain disruptions
  • Inflationary costs in a firm-fixed-price environment
  • Access to capital needed to cash flow operational growth
  • Cybersecurity threats
  • Rapidly shifting regulatory requirements

None of these risks are insurmountable, but they do mean that “business as usual” is not an option for our industry, especially for the small businesses within our industry. To date, the construction industry has lagged others in the adoption of innovative technologies to improve safety, quality, and productivity, but that is starting to change. It is reasonable to expect that risks and opportunities outlined will accelerate the rate of adoption of technological solutions across all aspects of the industry.

Bricks & Clicks: What would you say you’re most excited about at the upcoming Small Business Conference?

Burgos: Reconnecting face-to-face with SAME colleagues is what has me most excited. While the virtual conferences and meetings of the past year and a half have kept us connected and informed, I miss seeing the people who have become true friends over my years of SAME involvement. I have returned from every SAME Small Business Conference energized and refocused by the mission commitment of everyone involved in our Society, and I expect the same to be true in Atlanta.

Bricks & Clicks: How is the Small Business COI contributing to the goals laid out in the 2025 SAME Strategic Plan?

Burgos: Everything we do in the Small Business COI is closely aligned with all five major goals of the 2025 SAME Strategic Plan. Of particular note, SBC is second to none when it comes to promoting multidisciplined industry-government engagement. The connections that start at SBC evolve into the teaming relationships between industry and government as well as large and small businesses that are essential elements to building and sustaining resilient communities. The education and dynamic general sessions all contribute to developing leaders for our profession while at the same time allowing for fully integrating military and government members into the A/E/C industry.

I have returned from every SAME Small Business Conference energized and refocused by the mission commitment of everyone involved in our Society, and I expect the same to be true in Atlanta.

Bricks & Clicks: How has your company, the Burgos Group, benefited from engagement with SAME?

Burgos: In 2011, when we had a very limited budget to attend conferences, we chose to invest it in attending the national SAME Small Business Conference in Kansas City, Mo.

At that one event, there were military leaders, important agency points of contact, and some of the most successful prime contractors in the business. Plus, a ton of knowledge to be acquired from the education sessions and from visiting with key service providers (such as surety agents, attorneys, and capital sources). As I delivered my “elevator pitch” while walking up and down the exhibitor aisles and during the networking events, I was wondering if this was truly a good investment of our company’s very limited resources.

In hindsight, I can tell you unequivocally that it is the relationships that I developed by attending SAME local, regional, and national conferences year after year that have been key to our company’s continued success in the federal space. In 2009, we had never won a single federal contract. Today, we have been awarded over $12 billion in IDIQ capacity contracts (yes, with a “B”) from 13 different agencies. SAME engagement is the single most important investment my company has ever made.

Bricks & Clicks: What’s your favorite part of being Chair of the Small Business COI?

Burgos: Working together with a diverse, dedicated, and passionate team of volunteers to open the doors for other small businesses while contributing to the national infrastructure security of our nation.

With a return to an in-person event with an option for virtual participation, SAME’s 2021 Small Business Conference is sure to offer unparalleled value and deliver unmatched return on investment.

The conference will once again bring together federal agencies and businesses operating in the federal marketplace to deliver the most comprehensive and useful market research experience possible; share upcoming contracting opportunities for small businesses; support the nation’s contracting goals; and allow attendees to connect with teaming partners and engage in above-board networking between private companies and federal program managers and procurement/contracting officers. Watch a personal message from Small Business COI Chair Mario Burgos below on the value of SBC and register today!