Spalding Consulting refuses to retreat

Firm expands amid talk about budget cuts to contractors

November 12, 2010, Lexington Park, MD — Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense.

Spalding Consulting, an information technology, program management and data management contractor, recently opened a new office in Lexington Park in addition to its Great Mills office. The company also expanded its marketing arm, adding a media representative and planning an open house for early next year.

With this expansion of non-billable, overhead activity, you would think that no one told this company of 100 employees about Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ plans to reduce outsourcing in what some local leaders have bitterly dubbed the “global war on contractors.”

But owner and founder Barry Spalding said he is well aware that trying times are ahead for the Southern Maryland contracting community. And he and his staff have no intention of taking it lying down. “We’ve decided to counter that by spending money, rather than hiding and hoping for the best,” Spalding said at the company’s new Lexington Park offices, jokingly called “Spalding North” by employees.

The office smells like optimism — fresh paint, clean carpet and new furniture. The only things hanging on the wall are two pieces of artwork in the conference room. You would never guess this company is nearly 10 years old.

“We’re fortunate to be a small business in the government arena,” Spalding said. “It’s been a good year.”

According to the company, revenue has increased by 250 percent in the last three years, nearly topping $20 million. Lisa Clark, vice president of business intelligence, credits this surge to a solid foundation of “slow, steady, sustainable growth” built in the previous seven years.

According to Bob Schaller, director of economic development for St. Mary’s, Spalding’s quiet, steady rise is reflected in other local contracting firms that have carved a unique service niche.

“There are a lot of pockets of rapid growth,” Schaller said. “They tend to stay below the radar. … They’re not beholden to one customer, and that’s why they’re able to grow.” Schaller noted that small, niche firms face less risk than more generalized support service firms, saying, “If you’re kind of a general, more homogenized service, you’re going to be affected by [government] insourcing.”

One of Spalding’s niches is searching and organizing data from NAVAIR’s massive DECKPLATE maintenance database into actionable intelligence. The system tracks part replacement on Navy aircraft, and Spalding uses these records to determine which parts are wearing down too quickly and how they are affected by environmental conditions.

Spalding said his company surgically chooses which contracts to pursue, applying for only those it can do well.

“We’re going to focus on our strengths,” Spalding said of obtaining future contracts. “We’re very competitive.”

This article originally published in The Enterprise; view it online at http://www.somdnews.com/stories/11122010/entemil162641_32310.shtml