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Earlbeck Gases & Technologies has done business with local Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force facilities for many years through small business set-aside contracts. The government reserves these contracts for small firms in recognition of the fact that small businesses create jobs and drive the economy. However, as Earlbeck Gases & Technologies President Jim Earlbeck discovered, some large businesses are taking part in these small business set-asides. His article, “Under the Veil of Small Business,” appears the On The Edge feature at Welding & Gases Today Online, the leading magazine for the gases and welding equipment industry.

“When we lose a contract or a sale at Earlbeck Gases & Technologies, we always perform what we call a ‘post-mortem,’” says Earlbeck, “where we work diligently to find out why we were not able to win the customer’s business. I always learn more from the sales we don’t make than those we do.” In performing a recent post-mortem, Earlbeck found out that the small business-set aside contract was being subcontracted to a large business for fulfillment. “A contractor may gain preferential access to set-asides for being a disadvantaged business, woman-owned or located in a HUBZone, but when you add the resources of a large business into the mix, it is difficult for other small businesses to remain competitive,” he says.

Because the government relies largely on self-enforcement of the procurement regulations, it is up to companies bidding on contracts to know the regulations and point out any possible violations. Earlbeck honed in on the federal acquisition regulations that apply to subcontracting and discovered differing standards for gas manufacturers, such as his company, and non-manufacturers, like the contracting agency that was awarded these contracts. “We are currently investigating the legalities of this business arrangement,” says Earlbeck.

To find out why some large businesses are fulfilling small business contracts, read “Under the Veil of Small Business” (http://www.weldingandgasestoday.org/index.php/2011/06/under-the-veil-of-small-business/) at Welding & Gases Today online. For more information, contact Devin O’Toole, content editor at Welding & Gases Today at devin@weldingandgasestoday.org or 315-445-2347.

Founded in 1945, the Gases and Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA) is the premier source for manufacturing knowledge, education and networking. Through its member journals (http://www.weldingandgasestoday.org), e-magazines, newsletters and industry wiki (http://www.gawdawiki.org), GAWDA connects suppliers of gases and manufacturers of related equipment as well as manufacturers of welding equipment and distribution leaders, for the purpose of safely delivering optimal solutions to the users of those products. GAWDA publications are the industry’s voice for all matters related to the latest technology and the most up-to-date processes spanning welding equipment and products and services related to industrial, medical, specialty and cryogenic gases. A 501(c)3 organization, GAWDA members are located throughout North America.


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