News

Blake Willson Group Proud to Announce President & CEO, RJ Blake, as 40 under 40 Honoree

Arlington, Virginia – Blake Willson Group is proud to announce that RJ Blake is a recipient of the 2017 40 Under 40 award, presented by Leadership Center for Excellence. RJ Blake and other honorees, will be recognized for the positive leadership impact they make personally and/or professionally at a luncheon on Friday, November 30, 2017 from 11:30am until 1:30pm at Army Navy Country Club.

The 40 Under 40 event honors forty trailblazers who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in the personal or professional spheres and who are devoted to making positive change within our community. This event was an opportunity to support and recognize these leaders, and the Leadership Center for Excellence hopes that they will further create valuable social capital for this region. Click here to view the list of honorees.

RJ Blake was chosen because of his personal and professional success story; rising from a disadvantaged childhood to becoming the first in his family to graduate college, serve in leadership capacities in the U.S. Army, including deployment to Afghanistan, and start and run a successful CPA firm in the Washington DC area. Mr. Blake serves as a volunteer with American Corporate Partnership (ACP) to mentor transitioning veterans in their pursuit of education, employment, and entrepreneurship. In addition, Mr. Blake and leadership at Blake Willson Group, heavily support the American Heart Association in their efforts to fight heart disease and stroke.

“We are so proud of RJ Blake on this wonderful honor,” said Drew Griffin, Vice President of Blake Willson Group. “His tireless work ethic and servant-leader qualities better our company, the employees, and the community.”

Drew Griffin, Vice President of BWG Shared His Personal Story at the 2017 East Carolina University Business Leadership Conference

April 11, 2017 – Hendrix Theatre (Greenville, NC)

East Carolina University (ECU) hosted their annual Business Leadership Conference on Tuesday, April 11th, 2017 where over thirty (30) business leaders from across the United States [some ECU graduates] volunteered to help students understand the realities of the business world in a professional conference environment.

Dr. Stan Eakins, Dean of the ECU College of Business, said, “The conference is a tremendous event that inspires and informs our students, and the presenters touch lives in ways they can’t imagine. ECU is known as the Leadership University, and this event shows how the College of Business is determined to lead in the development of tomorrow’s business leaders.”

 Drew Griffin, Vice President of BWG asked students to think back to middle school geography class and visualize where Washington, DC is located on the U.S. map. He stated, “just like there are countless paths to Washington, DC via car, plane, train, bus or even boat; there are equally that many paths to personal success. So, do not let someone else’s version of success or their risk factors solely determine your path in life. Consider other’s advice but remember, regret feels way worse than failure.”

Mr. Griffin then shifted to describing the two most formative moments in his adult life; inflection points as he described them: 1) his father passing away and 2) being dismissed from ECU’s Graduate School for poor grades, on top of losing his job. Like most people who undergo traumatic situations, those days were stressful and especially difficult to handle. Mr. Griffin explained these events forced him to decide between using those unfortunate events as a crutch for not reaching his full potential or motivators to drive him. He chose the latter and encouraged attendees to do the same for any traumatic situations in their own lives.

Drew emphasized worrying only about our own effort and spending dedicated time reflecting on our actions for improvement. Nothing else matters. He encouraged attendees to act now, be patient and stay optimistic. Success will come! Mr. Griffin closed with the following:

  1. Maintain a High, Consistent Failure Rate. If you are not failing on a consistent basis, be it personally or professionally, you are not putting yourself out there enough to experience the unique success you desire. Persistence is the key!
  2. Commit to Uncommon Actions. Look for ways to stand out above the crowd – show people they are worth your inconvenience. Look for opportunities to go the extra mile, it will serve you well because the extra mile is not well traveled.
  3. Listen to Understand, Not Just to Respond. When people talk, actively listen for cues to show you are listening; rephrase their statements to show you understand their point and do not interrupt. Do not participate in verbal boxing where each person essentially bobs and weaves during the conversation to get a word in.
  4. Be a Servant-Leader. Take ECU’s motto “servire” seriously. Help others before yourself. Identify and meet the needs of colleagues, customers, and communities.

For more information on the ECU Business Leadership Conference, please contact: Steve Myzsak at myszaks@ecu.edu.

BWG Media Contact:

RJ Blake || rblake@blakewillsongroup.com || 443.235.7882 (c)

RJ Blake, President & CEO of BWG Shared His Personal Story as a Panel Speaker at the 2017 Veterans in Business Conference

March 23, 2017 – Army/Navy Country Club (Arlington, VA)

Did you know veterans represent only 6% of the total U.S. population but account for 13.5% (or 3.7 million) of all small businesses in the United States? These businesses employ 5.8 million Americans; pay more than $210 billion in wages; and contribute $1.7 trillion to the U.S. GDP. Veteran-owned businesses truly are fueling the economy. Recognizing the trend and success rate of veterans in business; civic and business leaders alike in Virginia created the Annual Veterans-In-Business (VIB) Conference to help connect those who served our country and continue with that kindred spirit into the private sector through education, networking and business opportunities.

On Thursday, March 23rd, 2017, RJ Blake, President & CEO of BWG and other successful veteran business leaders shared their personal stories, highlighting the journey from boots to business. Mr. Blake began the discussion with his early years on Maryland’s eastern shore, where he developed an entrepreneurial spirit; selling bushels of crabs he caught along the canals, flipping baseball cards for a profit, or even selling golf balls he recovered from the ponds at local golf courses. Mr. Blake leadership endeavors began in the US Army where he served as a scout team leader, conducting counterinsurgency during combat deployments to Afghanistan. Mr. Blake was quoted with saying “Transitioning from the Army to civilian life was difficult, but those values and experiences in the hard times provided me with the grit to perservere…it gave me the confidence to know I could do it, just one foot in front of the other.” Mr. Blake underwent years of physical therapy while concurrently attending the University of Maryland’s R.H. Smith School of Business, obtaining his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license and gaining experience in Big 4 public accounting.

By 2014, Mr. Blake founded Blake Willson Group (BWG), a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) and licensed CPA firm, based in the Washington DC metropolitan area. In short time, the company has recognized success in federal government contracting arena, with triple digit growth year over year.

Having recognized success in his transition from boots to business, Mr. Blake shared the following tips with others thinking of venturing out on their own:

  • Show up. 85% of life is showing up, especially when you’re having a bad day. Show up to the client site, but also be sure to get out to those networking events. You never know who you will meet or where the windy road in life will take you.
  • Be true to yourself. Be pure of heart, with good intentions, and surround yourself with those that have similar values in life. Define your core values. Pass on the quick wins that compromise your core values – they are not worth jeopardizing your future or business.
  • Be Resourceful. Resources are available and abundant, often at no cost to you as a veteran. There are numerous jointly funded programs (federal, state, nonprofit) that provide free assistance to small businesses (business plans, contracting, legal), especially to veterans. Contact your local SBA office and resource partners before spending money on business consultants. If you’re a entreprenuer in Northern Virginia, Highly recommend you reach out Charles McCaffrey, Director of the Veterans Business Outreach Center in Springfield, VA.
  • Never stop learning. If you are a veteran-owned business, sign up for one of the Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) programs. VIP provides all the tricks of the trade in federal contracting world – from starting a business, growing a business and now the international program

Mr. Blake encouraged conference attendees to think about the long game more than the short. Say yes to the client more than you say no. Starting out, YOU are the company. Your reputation is everything. Provide quality work, exceed expectations and do not nickel and dime the client. Sometimes pro bono work comes back in your favor ten-fold.

For more information on the VIB Conference, please contact: Charles McCaffrey at charles@cbponline.org

BWG Media Contact:

Andrew Griffin || agriffin@blakewillsongroup.com || 919.796.1170 (c)

MorganFranklin Consulting, Blake Willson Group to Collaborate Under U.S. Small Business Administration All Small Mentor-Protégé Program

D.C.-based consulting firm and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business CPA firm announce collaboration under new program designed to develop strong protégé firms through mentor-provided business development assistance and to help protégés successfully compete for government contracts.

McLean, Virginia PRWEB – Full Article

mfc_bwg_logoMorganFranklin Consulting, a strategy and execution-focused business consulting firm and professional advisor, and Blake Willson Group (BWG), a certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) CPA firm, announced the firms’ acceptance into the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) All Small Mentor-Protégé Program. As part of the program, MorganFranklin will serve as mentor for BWG to develop the protégé firm through mentor-provided business development assistance and to help the protégé successfully compete for government contracts.

“MorganFranklin is thrilled to collaborate with Blake Willson Group in this capacity, and we are eager to work hand in hand with BWG while strengthening our commitment to the development of small businesses and supporting the missions of the departments and agencies they serve,” said Frank Landefeld, Managing Director & Public Sector Market Leader at MorganFranklin. “Because we remember what it is like to be a small business, it is important to us to share our experience by providing guidance and opportunities for small businesses. This initiative gives us that chance while also enhancing the services both firms deliver to the U.S. government.”

The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 provided authority for the SBA to establish mentor-protégé programs for all small businesses. Rather than creating separate programs for each constituency—SDVOSB, Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB), and Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone)—the SBA chose to create a single, all-inclusive mentor-protégé program modeled on the successful mentor-protégé program available to participants in its 8(a) program. Under the new program, mentor-provided assistance can be sought for activities including management, technical, financial, contracting, trade education, business development, and general or administrative assistance.

“Small businesses provide vital services to our government and play an integral role in the success of the American economy,” said RJ Blake, President & CEO of Blake Willson Group, who was first introduced to MorganFranklin through the firms’ shared commitment to supporting the American Heart Association. “We are excited to collaborate with MorganFranklin under this new initiative, and we believe the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program will be incredibly beneficial for both firms and serve as a model for increasing small-business participation in the government.”

For more information about the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program, visit http://www.sba.gov/navigation-structure/all-small-mentor-protege-program.

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Blake Willson Group
Blake Willson Group is a licensed CPA firm with a skilled team of dynamic individuals dedicated to providing timely, cost-effective, and forward-thinking solutions to customers. Based in the Washington, D.C. metro area, the practice holds Department of VA-certified (CVE) Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) status. http://www.blakewillsongroup.com

About MorganFranklin Consulting
MorganFranklin is a strategy and execution-focused business consulting firm and professional advisor. The company provides strategic thinking and hands-on support to help public companies, fast-growing private companies, and government clients manage growth and maximize performance. The firm delivers strategy, accounting and transaction services, risk and compliance, and information management and technology solutions. MorganFranklin is headquartered in the Washington, D.C., area and has supported clients in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. http://www.morganfranklin.com

MorganFranklin Consulting is the brand name referring to the global organization of MorganFranklin, Inc. and its subsidiary MorganFranklin Consulting, LLC.

Media Contacts:

Melinda Holler
PR(at)morganfranklin(dot)com
MorganFranklin Consulting
703.564.7525

Andrew Griffin
admin(at)blakewillsongroup(dot)com
Blake Willson Group
919.796.1170

BWG Reaches Small Business Milestone With VIP Grow

vipgrow

 

Helping Veteran-Owned Small Business Navigate Government Contracting at No Cost

BLAKE WILLSON GROUP (BWG), a certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) CPA firm recently completed the Veteran Institute Procurement (VIP) GROW Program, a comprehensive training and certification program that helps veteran-owned businesses strengthen their ability to win government contracts and do business with both military and civilian agencies they once served in uniform.

 

On June 23, 2016, BWG alongside 47 other businesses from 14 states and the District of Columbia graduated from the VIP GROW Program. Upon graduation, RJ Blake, BWG President and CEO was presented a congressional citation by Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia’s 8th District on behalf of the company signifying a momentous day for the company.

After receiving the citation, Mr. Blake, stated, “We are honored to receive the VIP GROW certification and congressional citation. After all the networking and opportunities for guidance offered by the VIP program, I am confident BWG is now armed with the requisite knowledge and acumen to achieve our long-term goals in the government contracting industry. I highly recommend the VIP GROW program to all veteran-owned business looking for a leg up on the competition. I am extremely thankful for the selfless and dedicated men and women that deliver the program to benefit veterans like myself.”

The first program of its kind in the nation, VIP GROW is conducted by professional subject-matter specialists in the essentials necessary to win government contracts: law, accounting, insurance, human resources, marketing and proposals. It also provides participants with access to Federal and prime contracting executives along with a national network of veteran owned small businesses that they can team with on opportunities.

Since its launch in 2009, VIP GROW has helped 638 service-disabled and veteran-owned small businesses grow.  A survey of 255 of the program’s graduates determined that 2915 new jobs were created and the size of their businesses increased by an average of 51% within a year of graduating from the Institute. More than 81% of surveyed graduates credited VIP GROW for equipping them to make recent business decisions and avoid unseen pitfalls. Additionally, veteran-owned businesses are more likely to hire, mentor and train other war veterans as they transition to private life, which is a national priority.

In regards to the goals of VIP GROW, Barbara Ashe, President of Montgomery County Chamber Community Foundation stated, “we are honored to give back to the men and women who served our country by providing them with the tools necessary to succeed as government contractors. We hope this training fosters their success as businesses and employers.”

 

VIP GROW is a three-day, 27-hour comprehensive certification program. Participants must be a C-level leader in a Veteran-owned small business operating for at least two years with a minimum of 3 full time employees, and experience working on government contracts as a prime and/or sub-contractor to a prime. With volunteer instructors and at no cost to participants, VIP GROW is fully funded by the Montgomery County Chamber Community Foundation, partners, and VIP sponsors.

For information on Blake Willson Group: Andrew Griffin, 919-796-1170; agriffin@blakewillsongroup.com

For information on VIP: Barbara Ashe, 301-738-0015 x215; bashe@mcccmd.com

For additional information, please visit www.NationalVip.org or the Montgomery County Chamber Community Foundation.