Red Hawk IT – SDVOB


“SDVOB’s Struggling to Gain Traction”


by Ken Smith


I recently interviewed Jim Hawkins, Army Veteran and owner of RedHawkIT located in Woodbridge, Virginia.   This “SDVOB” or Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business” is an example that other Service Disabled Veteran Business Owners nationwide should follow.  What makes this SDVOB so interesting is that sales (total sales) have increased quarter after quarter, year after year, due mostly to the fact that Jim Hawkins is a man on a mission.

SDVOB’s are struggling to gain traction with Procurement officers is one of the most common statements that owners of SDVOB’s share with me.  GSA and their staff are the good guys say SDVOB’s and non GSA Procurement officers are mostly taking the path of least resistance and sticking to the vendors that they have used for years.  Let me explain.

When you sell your  products or services to the government (City, State or Federal Agencies), you have to convince the procurement officer of that agency that your company has the skill sets and experience to deliver the products on time and on budget.  Procurement officers are located all over the country and there are some very good ones and some very poor ones.  The very good ones, ones who buy products or services from SDVOB’s  are usually Veterans themselves and know that to support a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Company is the right thing to do.

What makes it so difficult for SDVOB’s to penetrate into goverement contract work is paperwork.  I hear the owners of Veteran businesses tell me stories of staying up till after midnight to fill out reams of paperwork that is required just to get the chance to bid on the job.  Not to get the job, to get the chance to “Bid” on the job.  Something is not right with a system that makes it extreamly difficult to gain traction.

Congrress has ordered that SDVOB’s should rightfully have a “set-aside” when it comes to goverment contracts. Sounds good on paper. The reality is very much different.That is what makes RedHawkIT such a success story. Here is a little about this company:

“RedHawk IT is a Certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned and SBA Certified 8(a) Small Disadvantaged Business. They maintain a unique position in today’s technology marketplace, with powerful consulting, implementation, procurement and maintenance capabilities in enterprise and small-business systems. Our proficiencies encompass a wide variety of technologies such as Enterprise Management, Storage, Networking, Server, Desktop, Mobile Systems, and other technology business productivity solutions. RedHawk IT professionals make the distinct requirements and the bottom line goals of each of our clients our highest priority. Their unsurpassed and proven commitment to quality and client satisfaction has earned them one of the highest rates of repeat business in the industry. Selecting RedHawk IT as your trusted technology business solutions advisor guarantees that you will receive quality service and achieve profitable and sustainable long-term results.

RedHawkIT has the following Certifications:

  • CVE Certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB)
  • SBA Certified 8(a) Small Disadvantaged Business
  • Cisco Registered Partner
  • Citrix Solution Advisor
  • HP / Microsoft Frontline Partner
  • Microsoft Silver Partner
  • Symantec Certified Partner

You would think with all that IT horsepower the goverment would be knocking down the doors to give RedHawkIT contracts.  The opposite  is what happens.  Not just to RedHawkIT, but to other SDVOB’s.  That brings me to the agencies that are tasked with helping the “Jim Hawkins” type companies out there today.  Where is the help from SBA-Vets?  I know they have a program that will loan an SDVOB $35,000, but what I am being told is that most banks don’t honor that loan guarentee and its the old adage, “You can get the loan, only when you don’t need it”.

I know an associate Adminstrator of SBA-VETS, Bill Elmore, and I will conduct an interview with some hard ball questions submitted by readers in the near future.  I will ask how many employees are part of this SBA initiative, how large is his budget, how many veteran owned businesses he helps, and most importantly, how does he get his word out to the SDVOB’s who are struggling?.
With so much Veteran unemployment, you would think that someone in the federal goverment would wake up and smell the coffee?  We could help ourselves by helping SDVOB’s like RedHawkIT.
Congrats to Jim Hawkins and the staff at RedHawkIT,  you are proving that with hard work and a vision, successes can be found.


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For more than twenty-five years Ken Smith has been a leading advocate for veterans. A combat Vietnam veteran, Ken served during 1971-72 as a paramedic and an infantry squad leader with Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, in the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. After his discharge, Ken continued his work as a paramedic in New England. On the streets of Boston he encountered growing numbers of homeless Vietnam veterans, and he became determined to both assist them and draw attention to their plight. In 1989, Ken founded the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, located in a former VA hospital at 17 Court Street in downtown Boston. One of the first facilities designed for homeless veterans and now a national model, the shelter has served over 35,000 of America’s veterans who, for whatever reason, find themselves living on the streets. In 1992 Ken was awarded Point of Light #142 by President George H. W. Bush, and later that same year received the AMVETS Silver Helmet Award, considered the “Oscar” for American veterans. As one of America’s foremost veterans service organizations, AMVETS (or American Veterans) has a proud history of assisting veterans and sponsoring numerous programs that serve our country and its citizens. Ken was awarded this honor along with Peter Coors, with whom he still maintains a personal friendship. Over the years Ken has appeared on many national media programs including Good Morning America, Prime Time Live, ABC News, CBS News, Larry King Live, CNN, 60 Minutes, and The Geraldo Show. He has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, and numerous international newspapers, magazines, and websites. In 1992, Ken had the distinction of addressing both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions as a keynote speaker on the subject of veterans. Ken recently left his last assignment with the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, where he was the chief technology architect of the Veteran’s Vocational Technical Institute, Purple Heart Car Donation program, Purple Heart Call Center, Purple Heart Radio, Purple Heart Tech Support, Purple Heart Services, and over thirty new Purple Heart websites. Ken Smith provided the vision and has overseen the implementation of innovative, virtual, work-at-home training programs for veterans with combat disabilities. Ken has designed, upgraded, and supervised the integration and installation of Purple Heart Service Foundations computer and telephony systems, upgrading features from legacy POTS phones to SIP-trunked communications systems including establishing new VPN networks for teams of remote virtual employees. An adventure sports enthusiast, Ken enjoys extreme skiing, competitive sailing, flying, and travel. He has traveled extensively worldwide, delivering his positive message to the veterans of other countries that a paraplegic veteran of the United States suffers the same as a paraplegic veteran of India; that an amputee veteran of Nepal suffers as much as an amputee veteran of France. Ken’s mentor was Harold Russell, the two-time Academy Award winner who starred in the 1946 film Best Years of Our Lives. A World War II veteran, on D-Day, June 6th, 1944, Harold lost both of his hands. This ghastly misfortune did not stop him, and he went on to become the chairman of the President’s Committee for People with Disabilities. For over fifty years he served US presidents from Truman to Clinton. Ken was humbled and grateful when Harold agreed to serve as the best man at Ken’s wedding. Ken has been instrumental in the planning stages for the Veterans Workshop, a new nationwide veterans’ advocacy group building a new “Veterans Hotline, and the development of special programs for those who have lost their sight or their hearing, or who have suffered spinal cord injury, as a result of their military experience. The Veterans Workshop provides a forum where new technology and advancements in the fields of prosthetic and orthotic solutions, many designed by Ken, are shared along with virtual training and employment programs. A 1970 graduate of De La Salle Academy in Newport, Rhode Island, for the past twenty-five years Ken has continued his education with extensive college courses in computer technology and related social service fields. He resides in his native state of Rhode Island with his wife and children.