Small Business Success Story: Mason Small Business Development Center and R2C

For the first time in its history, IT consulting firm, Buchanan and Edwards, acquired an outside company, the Reports and Requirement Company (R2C).

R2C is a female-owned intelligence consulting service, founded in 2008 by Katrina Barlow and Kathy Rondon.  R2C delivers data governance and curation, cyber intelligence, and collection management, which substantially expands Buchanan and Edwards’ portfolio of analytics services across agencies in defense, intelligence, homeland security, law enforcement, and the diplomatic corps.

In just nine years, Barlow and Rondon grew an idea into a highly profitable business.  By 2015, R2C supported 40 full-time employees (FTEs) with $6 million in annual sales.  Another 20 FTEs joined the following year, and the sales were even higher.  At that point, Barlow and Rondon began considering acquisition offers.

How did R2C progress from vision to long-term growth?  A combination of hard work and qualified advice.

The qualified advice came from Timm Johnson, a Mason SBDC business counselor with over 28 years of financial and operations experience for software and service growth companies.  Mason SBDC is a partnership between the SBA and George Mason University whose business counselors and trainers offer top-of-the-line business mentoring services to entrepreneurs, regardless of experience and industry at little or no cost.

R2C contacted them for expert advice on competitive pricing and profitability.  Johnson helped Barlow and Rondon set the foundation for R2C’s growth.  His advised them on setting up benefits, securing a business line of credit, creating a defendable pricing strategy, and more.  Johnson emphasizes that Barlow and Rondon succeeded because they had a clear company vision and only needed help refining their approach.  They excel at driving and sustaining business growth, and foster several admirable attributes, including:

  • Engendering a strong entrepreneurial spirit
  • Examining problems they could solve
  • Creating a vision of how to provide training that didn’t exist at the time
  • Researching the marketplace for feedback on their new business training
  • Recognizing that their greatest asset is their personnel

To boost their appeal with clients, Johnson recommended the virtual client program at the Mason Enterprise Center in Fairfax.  MEC-Fairfax gave R2C a professional venue to hold meetings at an easily found address, as well as mail and telephone services.  Mason SBDC also houses in the MEC-Fairfax.

When considered acquisition offers, Johnson advised Barlow and Rondon to look for a company with similar vision and goals, because strong partnerships require shared capability and outlook, not just a focus on growth.  They found such a company in Buchanan and Edwards.

Over his seven-year relationship with R2C, Johnson’s role as a business counselor did not drastically change.  He joined R2C’s Advisory Board and answered questions about pricing methodologies, fringe benefits, G&A rates, the complexities of the changing contracting landscape, competitive market rates, and more.

Building a business requires dedication, vision, and a strong work ethic.  Experience and connections within the chosen industry will vastly increase a business owner’s likelihood of success.  Mason SBDC provides educational and business services for small-business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.  In particular, Mason SBDC offers business counseling, which pairs business owners with a mentor experienced in their chosen industry.  This relationship allows entrepreneurs to talk through the intricacies of building, scaling, and sustaining a small business.  R2C represents one of many successful companies who sought business services at an SBDC office.