President and CEO
ETHICAL PERSONNEL SERVICES dba A PROFESSIONAL PERSONNEL SERVICE
Cracking the Contracting Code, By Andrea Lovas
How Rondia Moss, NaVOBA’s 2016 Woman Vetrepreneur® of the Year, positioned her business to land contracts with dozens of large corporations and government agencies.
Having spent over half
of her life serving in the Navy, Rondia Moss is indelibly connected to the U.S. military. It’s no surprise, then, that Moss now works closely with government agencies, Department of Defense prime contractors, and some of America’s largest corporations to provide them with full-service staffing support services through her company, A Professional Personnel Service (APPS). The organization also prides itself on hiring as many veterans as possible—and a whopping 85 to 90 percent of its current employees have served in the military.
Moss’ nearly lifelong military journey began when she was just a teenager.
“I had a full ride to college,” Moss recalled, “but I really wanted to get out of the Midwest and travel.”
She enlisted in the Navy when she was only 17 and spent the next 13 years on active duty, working in aviation maintenance control. Moss earned her master’s degree in human resources management and transitioned to the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1993. Soon after, she joined a high-tech staffing firm, where she helped place engineers with medical device companies. After several years, the company she was working for closed its doors. Luckily, Moss had built some strong connections and was able to quickly fill the void left by her former employer.
“My company shut down, and I was quickly contacted by another CEO who needed some engineers and asked if I could help,” Moss explained. “So I really had immediate work from existing connections.”
Thus began Moss’ business, which she formally launched in 2000. At first, APPS worked largely with commercial clients. But Moss soon began to pursue government contracts.
“I started learning more about government contracting and it seemed like a complement to what I was already building. The revenue is also much more consistent,” she said.
Patience and Persistence
Despite her interest and military affiliation (Moss remained a reservist until 2012), Moss spent years pursuing APPS’ first government contract, not winning the first one until 2008.
“I knocked on doors for eight years trying to be a subcontractor,” Moss said.
After researching the federal government contracting process, Moss eventually learned the importance of getting her business and its services listed on a schedule with the General Services Administration. The GSA supplies products and communications for U.S. government offices, provides transportation and office space to federal employees, and develops government-wide cost-minimizing policies, among other management tasks.
“If you want to fast-track as a government contractor, you have to get the GSA schedule. I wish someone had told me that back when I first started. That’s what finally put me on the right track in 2008. The GSA schedule is so important – it gives you the right to start bidding. It made me a prime contractor and proved my past performance with the government, giving them the confidence to contract with my company.”
Learning the Ropes
Having a GSA schedule contract simplifies the sales process and gives companies a competitive advantage in the federal marketplace. But getting on the GSA schedule is a lengthy and complicated process, and Moss said she couldn’t have done it without outside help.
“We worked with FedMarket.com. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have gotten my schedule, Moss said. “It’s incredibly difficult to try to complete that proposal on your own, and they were so helpful and knowledgeable.”
While getting on the GSA schedule was the most important step in earning the opportunity to sell to the U.S. government, it wasn’t the only one. There was also a big learning curve that required plenty of education.
“When you are in the military, you don’t necessarily learn how the government purchases,” shares Moss. “I went to conferences and other events to learn what I needed to know and achieved business certifications that gave us an advantage.”
The company’s certifications include 8(a) and Small Disadvantaged Business, Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB), Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB), Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB/DVBE), and Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB).
Words to Live By
When it comes to federal government contracts, Moss said she abides by the acronym “FOCUS” that was first coined by personal finance guru Robert Kiyosaki: Follow One Course Until Successful.
“You have to follow that one course, just follow that GSA, and keep putting in proposals, keep going until you achieve it. Stay in your lane and see it to completion.
Moss’ efforts have paid off, and today the majority of her business comes from government clients. Though working with the government creates a relatively reliable income stream, Moss has learned that diversification within that client portfolio is important.
“I like to have about 10 different contracts going at any given time, because you just don’t know if they are going to renew at the end of the three- to five-year contract.”
APPS was launched with just one $42K contract for a single hire, and today its largest contract to date is for more than $22 million.
“That’s not something we could have achieved overnight,” Moss said. “We needed gradual, contained growth to achieve that and make sure we were prepared for that.”
APPS currently has 227 employees and boasts an innovative database system that enables the company to track unemployed veterans and ensure every effort is made to prioritize them, matching U.S. vets with civilian employment opportunities first.
In addition to supporting her military brothers and sisters as much as possible, Moss said her company subcontracts with other small businesses to help them build their past-performance ratings and achieve their own growth and traction with the government.
Did you Know?
A Professional Personnel Service’s customers include some of America’s most vetrepreneur-friendly corporations, including Johnson & Johnson and Cummins, which were both named to NaVOBA’s 2015 Military Friendly® Supplier Diversity Programs list.
The 2016 WVOY award is sponsored by: