Vienna-based environmental and energy consulting contractor SC&A was a small business up until 2007. In 2012, it’s a small business once again, and that’s okay with SC&A.
The transformation is thanks to the Small Business Administration, which has been revamping the size standards companies must meet to receive work set aside for small business.
The SBA has been busy adjusting the standards for a whole range of industries, based on an analysis of the market for various goods and services.
The amount of the changes can vary. Within the “professional, scientific and technical services” category, for instance, the size standard related to engineering services surged from $4.5 million in annual revenue to $14 million, while being a small computer repair firm now means a company can generate $25.5 million instead of $25 million.
In the professional services category, the SBA estimated the changes could allow as many as 8,350 more companies to be eligible for SBA programs.
In 2007, SC&A, with $8 million in annual sales, had grown too large to qualify as a small business, forcing the firm to compete with much larger contractors.
Its regained status “really couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Gregory P. Beronja, the firm’s president and chief executive.
“Financially, this is going to probably be one of our worst years in a while,” he said, citing the government budget uncertainty that has plagued most contractors.
Now that the company can compete again for small-business awards: “I’m also probably the most optimistic that I’ve been too, just given all the opportunities that we have now.”
Certainly, the standards revision is not a win for all. In the environmental and energy consulting business in which SC&A specializes, the cap on small-business revenue has been lifted from $7 million in annual sales to $14 million, creating larger competitors for start-ups or less-established companies.
“Any time you change the size standards ... there are going to be people who are happy and people who are unhappy with it,” said Stan Soloway, president and chief executive at the Professional Services Council, an industry association.
Christopher Hertz, the founder and chief executive of District-based IT small business New Signature, said even relatively small changes can alter the contracting ecosystem and potentially make it more difficult to win work and make partnerships.
It’s too soon to say exactly how much more work SC&A will see with its new status — Beronja said the company hasn’t yet received new contracts as a small business — but the company anticipates finding more opportunities as well as more subcontracting relationships with large businesses.
He added that the move will help the company diversify further; for instance, SC&A hopes to win more prime contracts for air quality consulting services.
Before, there was “no way” that SC&A would go up against larger, established competitors in that area. But additional experience as a small business could help it do so in the future, Beronja said.